Monday, April 8, 2013

Great Americans A to Z: Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen (1939-still living!) is an award winning American author. Many of his books feature young characters learning how to survive in harsh conditions.

Growing up in a military family, Gary had a rough, unstable childhood. His family moved around a lot, and he found it hard to do well in school. His parents were alcoholics and his father was seldom in his life. He claims that his mother was promiscuous and had many lovers. Gary also claims that the household maid sexually abused him.  As a teen, Gary found solace in reading books from neighborhood libraries.

When Gary reached adulthood, he held many job titles before becoming a writer: he was an actor, engineer, professional archer, rancher, sailor, singer, soldier, teacher, and truck driver.

Gary wanted to become a writer because he felt that he had many stories to share from his personal experiences. But he was not a good writer at first.

Gary’s skills developed slowly. He  surrounded himself with other writers who would help him and critique his work. He was persistent and eventually developed his own voice and style. Gary never gave up writing, even when he was not good at it. The result of his persistence is that he is the author of over 200 books, and he's won such awards as the Newberry Medal and the American Library Association’s Margaret Edwards Award. His popular children’s novel Hatchet was adapted for film and titled A Cry in the Wild.

Do you believe that writers are born or made? Can anyone become a good writer?  


  1. Steven King said something about that once and I'm going to quote it badly: With work you can make a mediocre writer good, but you'll never make a good writer great.

  2. Tough question but I think there has to be something within a person that makes it possible to create. And I think those are the ones that will become seriously good. I think when it comes to something artistic the good ones must have to be born with something special.

  3. I don't know if anybody can just become a writer with hard work? I do believe in talent and hard work,something tells me the above gentleman had both. I am pretty sure the writers worked with him because they saw something in his writing. Lucy from Lucy's Reality


Chontali Kirk