In Honor of Jules Verne’s 183rd Birthday.
Jules Verne is one of the top five most translated authors in the world. Yes, Yes, Everyone knows he was a brilliant writer, educated in law and the sciences, a visionary.
But Wikipedia makes this speculative, almost rude, comment about him: “His interest in writing often cost him progress in other subjects.”
Hhmm, that’s an interesting comment. Annoying comment.
As a writer, that darned comment sticks in my craw, grinds my gizzard, and altogether snarls my tail feathers. Possibly because of the truth in it.
Jules Verne paid a price to be a writer. What might he have accomplished had he turned his inventive genius to science instead of writing?
I’ll bet he would’ve been just as great. We’ll never know.
We do know this — he inspired young people to become scientists, explorers, inventors and engineers. He dreamed possibilities, wrote them into fascinating stories, and others turned his visions into realities. Still, Jules Verne paid a price – the same price all great writers must pay. He gave his time and his heart to it.
Devoted to his writing.
The Literary News, March, 1890, quotes Jules Verne:
“I am now at my seventy-fourth novel, and I hope to write as many more before I lay down my pen for the last time. I write two novels every year, and have done so regularly for the last thirty-seven years. I do so much every morning, never missing a day, and get through my yearly task with the greatest ease.”
He also wrote many short stories, poems, plays, and even opera lyrics. He did finish another fourteen novels after that 1890 quote.We are all familiar with 2000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of The Earth, but he wrote at least 88 novels. Fifty-four of which are still in print. Check out Jules Verne’s author page at Amazon.
“I must tell you that I am very severe on myself,” Verne said. “And that I correct and correct. The function of whetstone was never more rigorously performed by any author on his works than by me on mine. I will show you one of my manuscripts and you will see that in every line there are numerous erasures. Then I copy and correct again, and then I recopy. I often copy six or seven times before sending my copy to the printer, and then when my proofs come in I always find a quantity more corrections to be made.” [ibid, emphasis is mine.]
And a bit of a perfectionist, or so we can gather from that last comment. I’ve read that he liked to travel to countries he was writing about so he could make certain his novels had an authentic feel. It was amidst one of his Paris excursions that Jules Verne was shot.
Shot, crippled, but not out of the game.
Jules Verne’s nephew, was mentally ill. In modern terms, Gaston was paranoid. Despite that, Jules Verne treated him in a kind fatherly manner. In 1886, while Verne was traveling in Paris, Gaston burst in on his uncle in a state of high agitation, shouting that someone was following him. Verne tried to assure him this was not the case, but his hysterical nephew picked up a revolver and shot him. He missed with the first shot, but hit Verne in the foot with the second bullet. Gaston was subsequently placed in an asylum and spent the remainder of his life in and out of mental institutions.
Jules Verne was unable to travel after the shooting incident, but he continued to write two novels a year. He continued to inspire scientists, explorers, and engineers.
In the next life, I hope to sit down with Jules over a nice cup of tea and tell him what a magnificent inspiration he is to me. I admire his professionalism. I want to emulate his dedication to craft. Most of all, I love his unerring devotion to just doing it. He embodies my axiom: that which we persist in doing, we tend to do more of, and get better at doing. [See: Where Do Ideas Come From]
Happy Birthday Jules Verne!
Love you Jules! Pencil me in for tea on the first Thursday after I crossover. Thank you for blazing the trail for Sci-Fi writers and setting a sterling example for all of us on what it means to be a professional.