I feel I have to differ.
While I have any amount of respect for the US military (except when it’s urinating on corpses, raping their comrades, massacring villagers and blowing up sections of the British army that is) I doubt that service is a necessary adjunct to the literary life. After all, Claire Tomalin’s recent Dickens biography makes no mention of his stint in
It’s a sign of changing times. When I was of an age to serve we were told to join the army and see the world. I suppose I should be pleased that it’s now join the
And while I wish Mr Cole every success in his writing career, I do think he overstates the importance of marching on a writer’s development. I also think he massively overestimates the importance of being unhappy. He reminds me of the story about the fin de siècle author George Gissing who did not have the best of luck in his career. On one occasion HG Wells (I think it was) was extolling the virtues of a young writer he had discovered when Gissing growled ‘Has he starved?’ as if this was a necessary, if regrettable, prerequisite to being an author.
Well call me a cynic, I think they’re both wrong. I don’t know an easy way to become a writer save actually writing things and getting them published, but what do I know? I never served.