I can't help but feel somehow it's too late to get it right. I wonder if I should have started chasing this dream earlier or even if that would have made a difference. I was a very different person at 20 than I was at 36. While I feel guilty every time I get that twinge of resentment, I have to admit that watching 20-somethings break into the business with a bang sort of stabs me in the gut. Wunderkinds abound and here I sit feeling sorry for my 48-year-old self who has yet to get that big book contract.
Don't get me wrong. I have no intention of giving up (not today, anyway), but I sometimes wonder whether 48 is too old to ever conceive of a writing career. Is there an expiration date on a writing career?
According to one blog, the average age of a first time published author is equal to the meaning of life: 42. Apparently I've reached beyond such metaphysical enlightenment and am on my way to oblivion.
After a little more checking, however, I found a few encouraging nuggets of information.
- Raymond Chandler launched his career at 51 with The Big Sleep.
- Sue Monk Kidd set things abuzz (sorry, I couldn't resist) at 54 with The Secret Life of Bees.
- Alex Haley hit it big with Roots at the age of 55.
- The beloved Laura Ingalls Wilder was in her 60s when she found her place in the annals of literature.
I'm not looking for awards or wide acclaim (though I would take them if they were thrust upon me), but I am hoping to write for an audience who will actually read my books and want to read more. I want to say something worth hearing, share something intimate that might inspire someone or jar a reader's creativity. I want to know that what I write is actually worth something more than 255k on my laptop. Is it too late?
I'm going to say NO and keep working on my craft.
And I must give Ghost Hunk big snaps for sensing my doubts and encouraging me last night...as if he could read my mind. With a word from me, he just gets it.
In her acceptance speech, Jody Foster alluded to the fact that she is beginning something new now. That 50 isn't the end and that she is eager to break new ground. I'll bet dollars to donuts that come this time next year, there will be a shiny new kids' book on the shelves with her name on it.