London's early life in the Oakland, California area was unstable, as were his early forays into the job market. He worked hard labor, pirated for oysters on San Francisco Bay, served on a fish patrol to capture poachers, sailed the Pacific on a sealing ship, tramped around the country as a hobo, and made his well-documented though ill-fated trip to the gold promised-land of the Yukon.
On returning to California in 1898, London began working deliberately to get published, a struggle described in his novel, Martin Eden. His first published story was "To the Man On Trail", which has frequently been collected in anthologies. When The Overland Monthly offered him only five dollars for it—and was slow paying—London came close to abandoning his writing career. In his words, "literally and literarily I was saved" when The Black Cat accepted his story "A Thousand Deaths," and paid him $40—the "first money I ever received for a story."¹ read more
"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
"And how have I lived? Frankly and openly, though crudely. I have not been afraid of life. I have not shrunk from it. I have taken it for what it was at its own valuation. And I have not been ashamed of it. Just as it was, it was mine."
"But this is not a world of free freights. One pays according to an iron schedule--for every strength the balanced weakness; for every high a corresponding low; for every fictitious god-like moment an equivalent time in reptilian slime. For every feat of telescoping long days and weeks of life into mad magnificent instants, one must pay with shortened life, and, oft-times, with savage usury added."
Jack London Sites
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