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On Writing Late in Life

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On Writing
Late in Life

Do late bloomers have a chance of success in the extremely competitive world of writing and publishing?

More and more writers these days are sprouting everywhere, dishing out their books to the world. Some are represented by agents of traditional publishers, some are self-published via digital distribution platforms. It seems the average age of these writers is in the 20s-30s range. Pretty young, compared to writers who are aged 50 and up.

I’m not ashamed to admit I’m in the “aged 50 and up.” Although I started writing in my youth, and I was already planning to write a book (I already thought of the title, “The Two Matriarchs”  because it’s loosely based after my two grandmothers)—life, work and family put my writing in the backseat. Now that I’m a happily (at times) stay-at-home mom, my passion for writing fiction was rekindled twice over.

Photo of Stoker by unidentified photographer - www:nytimes.comhttps://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/13/travel/bram-stoker-dracula-yorkshire.html, Public Domain || Abstract background photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

I self-published my first book–a romantic comedy crime novella–when I was 50. Was it a success? Hardly. It was more like a shocking learning experience, but I’m okay with that. It was something I couldn’t do back in the good ol’ days, and for that I’m thankful. That first book gave me the courage to continue writing. 

Since then, I’ve written and published ten books, two of them anthologies,  won first prize in a Short Story Writing Contest, emerged as one of top ten in another Writing Contest, joined writing workshops and communities, written short fiction and got published online. Right now, I’m in the process of getting my two new novels ready for publication this year. 

I also find myself being more creative and studious than ever. The interest in learning more of and getting better at the craft of creative writing increases in me every day, as well as studying new-to-me knowledge on social networking, blogging, techie tools and the business of publishing. My other creative talents have also resurfaced, namely painting, which I became disillusioned with as a teenager. I’ve always dabbled on graphics and digital art, which now became more handy in creating my own book covers, promotional materials, and even in designing my own website.

Compared to theirs, some young, more highly-talented people may scoff at these seemingly insignificant “achievements” I’ve listed above.

But insignificant these may be to others, these are the things I never thought I could do years back. These are the things I never thought I would ever have the courage, the patience, and the ability to accomplish. Imagine that.

If you ask me if it’s easy starting a writing career in my advanced age, I’ll honestly tell you it isn’t. It’s like running in a race where my competitors have a ten-mile lead against me. I have to catch up on everything: the evolving styles, the ever changing readers’ preferences, and other factors that have since become different from what I’ve known way back then. Add to these pressing concerns like health issues, insecurities and fears, and adulting priorities.

But think about this: with age comes edge.

Advance in years equips us with a treasure chest of life experiences from which we can draw our own unique words and harness our literary voice to its full potential. Age gives us a deeper, wider, wiser world view. Over the years, we’ve learned the pains of growing up, of loss and failures, grief and disillusionment. Our hearts were broken, our spirits shattered, our minds confused. But from the rubbles of it all, we rose up, we learned, we seized the chance to make a better version of ourselves.

That translates to a nine-mile sprint, just enough to reduce the gap and catch up with ’em young ones, don’t you think?

Old and young alike, I think there are these challenges one must take up in writing and publishing, and generally, in life, on whatever endeavour we choose to undertake:

It’s the challenge of being teachable, not just being an overnight success. 

It’s the challenge of learning, not just earning.

It’s the challenge to practice tenacity, not just patience.

It’s the challenge of being thankful for any good thing, big or small, and be inspired by it.

It may not be my name beside the title, “best selling author.” But it’s never too late to dream and work hard for that dream to come true. If I so choose to give myself a pat on the back for anything that sparks joy in me, that’s just me being thankful and choosing to be inspired by it. 

Writing late in life is not a stumbling block to success and the fulfillment of dreams. I look at it as an adventure, a journey worth taking before the time comes to kick the bucket.

Photo from Wikipedia

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Steve Jobs

(1955-2011)

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