Austin Writers: Louis Sachar and his sideways stories
In the 1970’s normal became a bit trickier to define but would you say it was normal for a part-time warehouse worker to rush home from work and spend his nights writing a children’s book? It’s perfectly normal if you had known the worker, a UC Berkeley graduate, was Louis Sachar. Who would have thought the potentially psychotic tendencies of, well, everyone in Sideways Stories of Waysides School could actually secure publication approval after a tedious, eagle-eyed editor’s examination. Today, this former warehouse worker and elementary schoolyard teacher has created a nation wide name for himself as an author.
Sachar was born in New York where he lived until he was 9 years old. He spent his remaining school years in California, with a small stint in Ohio at Antioch College, and eventually graduated from UC Berkeley in 1976 with a (in retrospect) strange degree in economics. Sachar began part-time work at a warehouse, when he started writing the Wayside Stories. He was accepted to law school after being fired from the warehouse (one could assume Sachar was fatigued from nightly writing and daily warehouse weightlifting) and he graduated from the UC Hastings College of the Law in 1980, which was around the same time the first Wayside book was published. Still, Sachar worked diligently at a law firm until 1989 when his books sold widely enough to support a full time writing career.
If you went to an elementary or middle school in Central Texas during the 90’s, you were practically mandated by law to read Louis Sachar’s award-winning books. Sachar is mostly known for the popular kids book series Holes (1998), which was made into a Movie (2003). He also wrote the Marvin Redspot series.
Sachar took the right steps by going to college and working hard to achieve his goals. He like, Ann Bustard, made a name for himself in Austin, though neither are Austin natives. He serves as an inspiration to all writers. He is a living example of how persistence, passion, and patience will always escort you towards your goals. Stop the excuses about how a day job is too draining to allow for nighttime writing. Remember, you probably write hundreds of words a day on Facebook or Twitter. Smartly, Sachar and many other writers figured out a way to make money off of their words. If that doesn’t encourage you to keep writing, I don’t know what can.
So what does a Hollywood big shot like Sachar do these days? Pleasingly, you won’t find him in a sports car, sporting Versace sunglasses, and shunning away us “normal” folk. Instead, Sachar states on his website that, “you can often find [him] at the Austin Bridge Club or at a bridge tournament somewhere around the country.” Maybe we should all take a trip to the club and, if we find him, ask for his autograph on our DVD copies of Holes, right across Shia Labeouf’s face.