The soul doesn’t know about deadlines

Further to my last post and, while constantly contemplating career changes, motivation comes from reading about others who have been successful later in life, especially authors who have bloomed after the age of 50.

Take Laura Ingalls Wilder for example. Little House in the Prairie features in my childhood memories. I didn’t realise it wasn’t until she was 63 years old that she completed her first book and it took another two years before she became a published author.

In the visual arts, Anna Mary Roberson, also known as “Grandma Moses”, was 78 before her paintings were discovered by an art collector and 79 when some of her works were exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Frank McCourt, whose first book Angela’s Ashes won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, only began writing after retirement. Angela’s Ashes, his first book, was published when he was 66 years old. Apparently, he owes his success to his wife encouraging him to write down his stories.

Australian writer Elizabeth Jolly wrote for years before her first book of short stories was published when she was 53. The author of Watership Down, Richard Adams, was 52 when it was published. It was his first book. Raymond Chandler, despite writing unsuccessfully for years, was 51 when The Big Sleep, the first of the Philip Marlowe detective series was published.

I’m sure there are many more people who have successfully changed their career path in later life.

So, there are always choices and options. Options and hard work. And more hard work. Especially if you aspire to one day becoming a published writer. In the words of William Zinsser, who wrote several books about writing, “Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things that people do.”

But I find more hope in these words of Jeff Brown, “So called ‘late-bloomers’ get a bad rap. Sometimes the people with the greatest potential often take the longest to find their path because their sensitivity is a double-edged sword – it lives at the heart of their brilliance, but it also makes them more susceptible to life’s pains. Good thing we aren’t being penalised for handing in our purpose late. The soul doesn’t know a thing about deadlines.”

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