It’s never too late!

Halfdan_Egedius_-_The_Dreamer__Portrait_of_the_Painter_Torleiv_Stadskleiv__-_Google_Art_ProjectIt is never too late to follow your literary dream – and as dreams go, that’s one thing I have always loved about it.

If you have lived through your twenties then you can pretty much give up on your dreams of playing professional football or winning an Olympic Gold. You are also unlikely to set the pop charts alight or fill Shea Stadium with rock fans waving their mobile phones at you. If your heart fluttered at the thought of being a fashion model then you can wave that goodbye as the years pass too.

But if you dream of literary stardom then yours is a dream with some degree of longevity.

There was once a guy who held down a dull job as an oil company marketing executive – he stuck it out well into his forties though he can’t have found it much fun as eventually he got canned for persistent drunkenness.

9780140108927So he took to writing detective fiction and selling his stories to magazines. He found it suited him but he was fifty years old by the time he managed to get his first full length book published. It was called The Big Sleep and after that everyone had heard of Raymond Chandler.

Annie Proulx, there’s another one. The famed author of The Shipping News had a productive career as a journalist and had a track record as a short-story writer but she was 57 before her first novel was published. There are many more examples.

491px-John_Keats_by_William_HiltonNow, of course, there are always some precocious young tykes around the literary landscape. John Keats had scribbled his last stanza and kicked the Grecian Urn before he was 25. But, on the whole, a few extra miles on the clock can benefit a writer. More years can equal more material, they can also equal more life experience – not only more to write about but more ways to write about it.

It’s true that publishers and agents may not see you as having rock star appeal if your hair is turning grey – they would much rather have someone young and pretty, with more productive years left in them.

But, in the end, what matters is what is on the page rather than how many candles there are on your birthday cake. And, I don’t know about you, but I rather like that.

It gives those of us who are nearer in age to Chandler than Keats a chance to bloom late but gloriously like Pulitzer Prize winning Annie. And for younger writers, it simply means they have time on their side.

Song of the Sea God visualDon’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.


16 thoughts on “It’s never too late!”

  1. What a lovely, inspiring post, Chris. I didn’t know Raymond Chandler was a late starter, but it’s good to know I, for one, am not alone. You, of course, are just a spring chick! 🙂

    1. Ah that’s nice to hear Val – and not something said often these days. Every now and then at work one or other of my young female colleagues will mention her dad and, in the course of the conversation, it will emerge that I am older than the dad.

  2. Enjoyed your post, thanks. I’ve been grey for quite a bit now but still pushing on at less than youthful pace with a second novel. Thank goodness for Mary Wesley! Good luck with Song of the Sea God

    1. Thanks Barry – yep, going a bit grey myself too I’m afraid. But thankfully, in this sphere it really doesn’t matter – the very best of luck with your work too!

  3. I agree, it was pleasing to know that Mary Wesley was older when her first novel was published. My own father gives me hope, he was 58 for his first novel which won literary prizes, although published as a poet before that. However he is 88 now and about to send a new manuscript off to a publisher. Unfortunately I was too impatient and published myself as I didn’t want to wait 3 months each time a publisher had my manuscript.

  4. I will definitely be more patient next time, in waiting for a publisher, but nevertheless have enjoyed the thrill of producing the whole book myself. The paperback has proved more popular than the ebook, so it has been a learning process. My father urged me to take the conventional route and I am humbled by the fact that he will still do this at the age of 88 proving, as you rightly say, ‘it’s never too late’.

    1. Yes, the world’s certainly changing when it comes to self-publishing and I’m sure that change is only just starting – I think people will need a whole new set of skills on top of those they have as writers, who knows what the future may hold.

  5. That’s such a humbling way of looking at life – just one of the many reasons why I’m striving to be published! I’d like to be published traditionally by the time I hit thirty (nine years to go) but all the same, it’s nice taking the time, experiencing life, and writing all sorts before “settling down” to the right novel. I hope I’m still writing into my 80s. Thanks for this post! 🙂

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