Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Late Bloomers

I’m a proud late bloomer.

I say this because I published my first book at the age of fifty-eight. I realize I’m in good company: Richard Adams, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Raymond Chandler all published their first novels when they were in their fifties. And I like to think my writing has, like a fine well-aged wine, benefited from the wisdom and maturity of my years (although my wife would probably say you’d have to look pretty darned hard to find much in the way of either wisdom or maturity where I’m concerned).

But in conversation with an acquaintance recently (a fellow younger than I) he told me he’d “always wished he had been able to pursue his passions of music and stand-up comedy”. It was just never the right time. He said it like it was a given that he’d never reach this goal, and with an air of despair that was almost heartbreaking. And totally unnecessary.

I subscribe to the school of thought that It’s Never Too Late. That you can learn and grow no matter what your age. That you can take lessons or find a mentor. That you can connect with a community that will offer support and encouragement in whatever crazy endeavor you may decide to plunge into. 

When I started writing seriously, I never thought “Oh, I’m too old to be doing this.” Instead, I thought “Wow, this is AWESOME!” And I found so many wonderful people along the way (my darling wife being chief among them) who cheered for me and nurtured me and helped to get me to where I wanted to be.

Point of clarification: the fact that I didn’t start writing until after I was fifty had nothing to do with ‘waiting for the right time’. It was just the point at which inspiration struck and the voices in my head started talking loudly enough for me to hear them. And I looked around and realized “Yeah, I can do this. I’m going to carve out time for me to pursue that dream, and see what happens.”

Fast-forward to seven years later. My debut fantasy novel, TRAITOR KNIGHT, was released by Champagne Books and I’m hard at work on book 2 in the Knights of Kilbourne series.

My point being that I stopped that acquaintance to let him know that if music and comedy are really his passions, he should stop bemoaning all the lost time and get on with it. If you wait for ‘the right time’ you’ll never do anything. Yes, I’m certain there were plenty of missed opportunities to have learned his craft and honed his skills. And sure, he might fail. But he’ll never know until he tries. He’s not dead yet, and so he’s got the opportunity to go for it, win or lose. I don’t know if he’ll take that advice. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.  Hopefully he’ll join the club and start wearing those ‘late bloomers’.



Malcolm Campbell said...

I'm always seeing lists of people who did what they became famous for when they were middle aged or older. Like your post, that ought to remind people that one doesn't have to do it all when they're in their 20s and 30s. Best of luck on the sequel.


Veronica Helen Hart said...

Congratulations, Keith. While I didn't wait until my 50's to start writing, I didn't have a book published until I was in my 60's. I now have seven published books and am working on two more. You're so right about it never being too late.