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English and Writing Have Little to Do with Each Other
Writer at Work


    Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money.
    — Louis Untermeyer

Author Writing


When I was enrolled in the Engineering program at the University of Alberta, I failed English three years in a row. In fact, I received the lowest mark possible on a grading curve of "1" to "9."

 The reason that I received a "1" three years in a row was that the University didn't offer anything lower. When people asked me how I did in English, I would respond, "I aced it again with a "1."

It came to a point where the Dean of Engineering wouldn't let me enter fourth year of Engineering unless I passed the English course. I finally passed the course with an impressive grade of "5" in summer school.

Ironically, I have ended up being a writer for a good part of my adult life. I often say that by the time I realized how bad of a writer I was, I was too successful at it to quit.

Fact is, having failed English for writers is not as uncommon as you may think. Here are four authors much more successful than me who also failed English:

  • Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent and The Burden of Proof, failed English in his freshman year at New Trier High School. Nevertheless, he eventually attended Amherst College, earned a law degree at Harvard and became a bestselling author.
  • Although not an author in the strictest sense of the word, "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schultz, not only failed English at Central High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, he failed algebra, Latin, and physics. Schultz's cartoons were turned down by the school's yearbook staff. Moreover, after taking a cartoon drawing course by correspondence, Schultz's job application for a cartoonist's position at Walt Disney studios was rejected.
  • Brilliant British playwright Noel Coward, creator of worldly comedies such as Hay Fever, Private Lives, and Blithe Spirit, never graduated from grammar school.
  • American writer Leon Uris, bestselling author of historical novels including Exodus, Battle Cry, and Trinity, failed English three times at Philadelphia's John Bartram High School.

So what does this mean? Leon Uris summed it up quite adequately when he declared, "English and writing have little to do with each other." In the same vein, and contrary to popular believe, the level of education, natural talent, and available opportunity have little to do with the amount of success any individual can attain in this world.

Success Quotes — Success as a Writer

    There is probably no hell for authors in the next world — they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this.
    — C. N. Bovee

    The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any.
    — Russell Baker

    Why do writers write? Because it isn't there.
    — Thomas Berger

About the Author:

Vipbooks Author Ernie Zelinski is a leading authority on early retirement and solo-entrepreneurship. Ernie is the author of the recently released Real Success Without a Real Job: The Career Book for People Too Smart to Work in Corporations, the bestseller How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor (over 95,000 copies sold and published in 7 foreign languages), and the international bestseller The Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, Unemployed, and Overworked (over 225,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages). His latest work is 101 Really Important Things You Already Know, But Keep Forgetting.

Ernie's books have sold over 550,000 copies worldwide.

Ernie Zelinski's Top-10 Specialties

    1. International Best-Selling Author — His books Have Sold Over 550,000 Copies
    2. Early Retirement — He Semi-Retired When He Was 30 Years Old and Broke!
    3. Solo-Entrepreneurship — "Secure Career" Is Not Part of His Vocabulary!
    4. Self-Publishing — All of His Best-Sellers Had to Be Self-Published.
    5. Book Promotion — Specializes in Using Free Creative E-books for Viral Marketing.
    6. Foreign Book Rights Sales — He Has Negotiated 95 Book Deals in 25 Different Countries
     7. Public Speaking — Only When He Feels Like It, Gets Paid to Fly Business Class, and Gets to Stay at the Ritz-Carlton!
    8. Living the 80/20 Way — Working 3 or 4 Hours a Day and Still Earning a Great Living.
    9. Outwitting Corporate Life and Wearing a "Corporate Employment Is So Last Year" T-shirt with Pride.
    10. World Class Leisureologist — Leave the Relaxing to Him!

Check out: and Ernie's

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I like this blog entry, especially the quotes.  How interesting that you don't need to be an English expert to be successful at writing.  The notion blows my mind!

There is one trait that I do think is necessary.  Finishing what you start.  Why do you think college degrees are so important in resumes?  What grade you received in English doesn't mean a whole lot; whether you have that piece of sheepskin does.  Similarly, writers write.  If they don't, then they're engineers or accountants or [fill in the blank].