Computer Programmer turned Writer

Walter Mosley didn’t start writing until he was in his thirties. He worked as a computer programmer, but found the work had “no meaning to it.” One day in the office Mosley wrote the following sentence, “On hot sticky days in southern Louisiana, the first ants swarmed.” Mosley had never been to Louisiana and he had never seen a fire ant. He thought that sounded like the first sentence of a novel. Soon enough the sentence turned into his first book, although he could find nobody to publish it or represent it. Mosley took some classes and kept writing because he enjoyed it.

Four year later he wrote Devil in a Blue Dress and gave it to a writer friend of his and eventually that friend gave it to an agent that wanted to represent the book. Mosley recalls the most exciting moment of his career as getting his first books published. He called his dad and said,  “I sold a book. They paid me the same amount of money that I make in a year.” Soon Mosley was sending his agent more books that she could keep up with. If she couldn’t publish them he would find somebody who could. Mosley reminds himself throughout his publishing experience that he is a “writer not a seller.” Mosley writes all different kinds of books, series, TV shows, and more. Publishers often have problems with writers as diverse as Mosley. They want Mosley to pick the niche that he sells the most books in and stay there. Mosley refuses to cornered by the capitalist publishing companies.

Mosley has the following advice for writers.

“Don’t expect to write a first draft like a book you read and loved. What you don’t see when you read a published book is the twenty or thirty drafts that happened before it got published.”

Maran, Meredith. Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do. New York: Plume, 2013. Print


One thought on “Computer Programmer turned Writer

  1. stephaniebaur March 16, 2015 / 12:46 am

    This blog post made me smile because I enjoyed the fact that Walter Mosley never set out to be a writer, and yet a sticky not launched him into a whirlwind of writing and writing success. Also, considering that my research has been based around appealing to a very narrow age market (middle grade), it was refreshing to see an example of a writer who refuses to be boxed in. Individuals can be diverse, and so their writing should be allowed to be.


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