Older writer? Smile, your time may yet come

 

When I read those author interviews, you know the ones,

the ones where the successful writer claims they ‘always knew they were going to write’, that they wrote their first word before they were out of nappies, their first short story before their first spoken word, their first novel before leaving junior school – those interviews – I read them with a mixture of resentment and admiration.

Admiration because anyone who is together enough to have a life plan at a young age is truly blessed and resentment because I … didn’t.

I drifted through school, got kicked out of college, fell into retail (hairdressing, measuring old ladies for corsets, selling extra strong cider in an off licence, waiting tables in a cafe that closed a week after I started) … I was hopeless.

When asked what I wanted to do when I grew up I shrugged. Drift, drift, drift …

Floristry came along and was a reliable way to earn a little money, but it was only after I put myself through a degree and the studying was over that a hole opened in my life that needed to be filled.

And I filled it with an old love – writing. And I realised – I had found it. I’d found my one, true love. 

Nine years and a LOT of writing later, I’m starting to feel vaguely competent. I’m not sure if I’ve completed Malcolm Gladwell’s fabled 10,000 hours yet, but I don’t think I’m that far off and there are days when I feel I’m at a publishable standard.

But at 48, have I left it too late for a career in writing?

If you’re an older writer like me take heart from this article in Author’s Publish Magazine.

There maybe some hope for us yet.

 

 

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42 thoughts on “Older writer? Smile, your time may yet come

  1. Nice blog post – and link too – I think older writers can be better than younger – I was always told you should write about what you know – if you’ve been around a while, you know a lot!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for reading and I think you’re right, we older writers know a bit more than younger ones. Not even sure how I could have written well when I was younger. Onwards and upwards 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the pep talk Lynn, and the link to other older writers, that’s very inspirational! And boy, I can really use some inspiration, coming toward the end of NaNoWriMo and realizing what a big project I’ve taken on, now that my “book idea” turned out to be a “trilogy idea” — eep!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hehe! A book that turned into a trilogy? You’ll need another NaNo to keep the momentum up then! Do they run NaNo in December, January, February … Thanks Joy. A pep talk for myself as much as for everyone else – sometimes I feel as if EVERYONE is younger than me 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel the same way sometimes — everyone is younger, and more successful, and beautiful, and fit, and… Yeah, not helping to think like that. We’re all just going at our own pace.

        And yes, speaking of pace, how on earth am I going to keep up the pace to get the first draft of all three of these books done? Sounds like I’ll definitely have a project for Camp NaNo in April, and maybe in July too!

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      2. Ha! You sound like the voice in the back of my head! But you’re right, pointless to think that way – I’m grateful, after all my years of drifting I found something I love, even if it never pays me a living wage.
        You’ll do it, Joy, no worries. Baby steps, that’s the thing – not to be overwhelmed by the thought of the whole project, just focus on one book, one chapter, one scene, one sentence at a time, nibblng away at the whole, Sounds as if you’ve made a tremendous start too 🙂

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      3. You’re such a spritely, lively personality, Penny – and youre writing is the same, too, filled with such wit and empathy. Inspiration for us all here. Who says the world belongs to the under 30s? We’ll just snatch it back 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      4. One piece at a time gets it done, yes. Although with this project I’m taking a very different approach so far, trying to do a LOT more big-picture thinking before nailing down those scenes and sentences and details. I really got trapped last time into chapters that I’d revised multiple times until they felt perfect — even though I still hadn’t worked out the problems with the overall arc/structure yet. This time around I’m trying really hard not to get too attached to any particular scenes or sentences until I have a much clearer idea of theme, character arcs, where the plot points are, etc. Could be a while…

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      5. It’s not a bad approach though, making sure you have the arcs and struture before polishing. Myself, I’m rubbish at the bigger picture! I fling down a story and hope it roughly works. I’m better at plotting than I used to be, but only to the extent I try to have a bit of one before I begin. Whether it hits those beats and the seven plot points we’re all supposed to aim for … I looked at my current WIP and I think it does, but then does that matter anyway? Who knows. Just as long as it’s readable and engaging, surely?
        Anyway, enough blather – enjoy your current ride 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I’m rubbish at the big picture too, which is why I’m working so hard at it this time around. I learned the hard way last time — if the underlying structure isn’t working, all the pretty sentences in the world won’t add up to a novel that makes sense and flows well.

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      7. I read recently that most writers really aren’t plotters, that it’s a skill that has to be learned. So maybe we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves for finding it tough 🙂

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      8. Ha! That’s great, to have someone like that to read through your work. I have a couple of writer friends who will feedback on anything I write and one in particular who is wonderful at spotting unnecessary verbiage and helping my writing to be leaner. What would we do without our writing chums?

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    1. Thank you Pamela! And you’re absolutely right. Even if I never get that Holy Grail of writing – a publishing deal – at least I’ve found something I love, that feels me with excitement every time I approach my laptop. For that I’m very, very lucky. Thanks so much for the encouraging comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have quote from Ann Lamott I go to often.“. . . publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is. . . . That thing you had to force yourself to do—the actual act of writing—turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. What a great quote! Very true – it’s the act of writing I love. Of course I’d like to earn a living from it, but then there would be expectations and pressures and other people telling me what I should write. I’ll just enjoy beavering away and see what happens. Thanks for sharing 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I read recently that the 10,000 hours theory has recently been debunked to an extent anyway and of course, although part of me is attracted to the theory, I know it’s only partially true – if I trained 10,000 hours to be an Olympic standard gymnast at the end I
      would not be because of other factors, not least my age, my inclination towards chocolate and the fact that I have knock knees and absolutely no co ordination! But thank you Walt – that’s a truly lovely comment. By the way, how’s that novel of your going?
      The governor decapitated any more citizens?

      http://uk.businessinsider.com/expert-rule-10000-hours-not-true-2017-8

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  3. Hi Lynn,
    The great thing about writing is age doesn’t matter.
    I’m sixty-three and enjoying my new career. I feel blessed to have the time to write every day. I figure nothing is guaranteed, so I treasure each poem or short story. As for you, I’m in awe of your productivity and the brilliance of your writing. Have been since we met at the OU.
    It is nice to read that all these writers published later in life. Always good to have encouragement. Thanks for sharing.
    Maureenxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And you’ve been so sucessful at it too Maureen! Hardly a week seems to go by without news of another short or long listing or inclusion in an anthology and all so well deserved.
      Thank you for your lovely comment – your support and encouragement have been invaluable to me personally and to my writing. XXX

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    1. Ah, Penny – that’s such a wonderful comment. You’ve made me smile and well up at the same time. To be fair, I don’t really have a good enough ‘product’ to offer anyone. There’s something missing from my YA novel I think (hence no publisher or agent taking it up) two ther novels I’ve written are only at first draft stage and my WIP is just that – a WIP. I’ll keep plugging away, keep polishing. Thank you for your lovely scomment and your kind support. Many best wishes x

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  4. What a lovely, inspiring article. But I have to strongly disagree with the ‘vaguely competent’ statement. Your writing is beautiful, original, and powerful. Hope your writing finds it way to millions more!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, thank you so much Karen! I do find it hard to judge my own work, I’m sure many writers do. You write something that feels good, then come to it a while later, see the grammar mistakes, the plot holes, the lazy underdeveloped description – the overwriting! But keeping on trying to improve, that’s the main thing. Thank you for your kind comment – it means a lot coming from someone whose own writing I admire 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, exactly, Bill. I’m constantly grateful I returned to writing at all, having put it away in my early twenties, thinking it was something ‘other people’ did, not people who worked in shops and sold cheap cider to winos! Always grateful 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, maybe. I just didn’t have the staying power back then, was too esily disheartened with my paltry efforts. Now I realise you have to persevere through the paltry stage before you can improve. I have learned patience, a work ethic. I don’t expect everything to come now

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