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Edgar Rice Burroughs Talks about Writing Tarzan and John Carter

The article below, first published in the Washington Post 1929, and then reprinted in DC Comics Tarzan #230 in 1975, was written by Edgar Rice Burroughs himself describing what got him into writing. Interesting to me was that he he was up front and honest about the fact he wrote because he needed a way to make money to support his family and not for a great love of writing. Also interesting about this success story was that he admitted to not really succeeding at much of anything till he started writing.  It goes to show you never stop trying. Eventually, you'll find what you are good at, or get good at what you are trying.






From Wiki on Edgar Rice Burroughs

Biography

Burroughs was born on September 1, 1875, in Chicago, Illinois (he later lived for many years in the suburb of Oak Park), the fourth son of businessman and Civil War veteran Major George Tyler Burroughs (1833–1913) and his wife Mary Evaline (Zieger) Burroughs (1840–1920).

Burroughs was educated at a number of local schools, and during the Chicago influenza epidemic in 1891, he spent a half year at his brother's ranch on the Raft River in Idaho. He then attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and then the Michigan Military Academy. Graduating in 1895, and failing the entrance exam for the United States Military Academy (West Point), he ended up as an enlisted soldier with the 7th U.S. Cavalry in Fort Grant, Arizona Territory. After being diagnosed with a heart problem and thus found ineligible to serve, he was discharged in 1897.

Some seemingly unrelated short jobs followed. Some drifting and ranch work followed in Idaho. Then, Burroughs found work at his father's firm in 1899. He married childhood sweetheart Emma Hulbert in January 1900. In 1904 he left his job and found less regular work; some in Idaho, later in Chicago.

By 1911, after seven years of low wages, he was working as a pencil sharpener wholesaler and began to write fiction. By this time Burroughs and Emma had two children, Joan (1908–1972), who would later marry Tarzan film actor James Pierce, and Hulbert (1909–1991). During this period, he had copious spare time and he began reading many pulp fiction magazines. In 1929 he recalled thinking that

"...if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines."


Aiming his work at these pulp fiction magazines, Burroughs had his first story, "Under the Moons of Mars", serialized in All-Story Magazine in 1912

Burroughs soon took up writing full-time and by the time the run of Under the Moons of Mars had finished he had completed two novels, including Tarzan of the Apes, which was published from October 1912 and went on to become one of his most successful series. In 1913, Burroughs and Emma had their third and last child, John Coleman Burroughs (1913–1979).
Burroughs also wrote popular science fiction and fantasy stories involving Earthly adventurers transported to various planets (notably Barsoom, Burroughs' fictional name for Mars, and Amtor, his fictional name for Venus), lost islands, and into the interior of the hollow earth in his Pellucidar stories, as well as westerns and historical romances. Along with All-Story, many of his stories were published in The Argosy.


Tarzan was a cultural sensation when introduced. Burroughs was determined to capitalize on Tarzan's popularity in every way possible. He planned to exploit Tarzan through several different media including a syndicated Tarzan comic strip, movies and merchandise. Experts in the field advised against this course of action, stating that the different media would just end up competing against each other. Burroughs went ahead, however, and proved the experts wrong—the public wanted Tarzan in whatever fashion he was offered. Tarzan remains one of the most successful fictional characters to this day and is a cultural icon.
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