It's Not Where You Start

Few great authors spring up overnight. Most work odd jobs while they struggle to create. The Literacy Site shares these stories of the famous before they became famous:

J.D. Salinger. Before breaking onto the literary scene, the author of The Catcher in the Rye and other classics, worked as an entertainment director on a Swedish cruise ship.

Langston Hughes. The would-be poet worked as a busboy at a prestigious Washington, D.C. hotel. One day the well-known poet Vachel Lindsay came to lunch, and Hughes worked up enough courage to show her some of his poems. Lindsay was impressed by his talent and resolved to help get his name out, which led to him being discovered and going on to lead the Harlem Renaissance.

Kurt Vonnegut. The future author of Slaughterhouse-Five and other classics, owned the first Saab dealership in the U.S. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II, which had a major impact on his subsequent writing.


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