Sorry to say, folks, but my guest blogger for today did not send me her post, so I’m left either skipping it, like I did when this happened last week, or being my OWN “guest.” I chose Plan B. Here is an updated blog post I wrote last year for “A Woman’s Wisdom.” (I would link to it for you, but I can’t get in to that blog anymore.) So, I’m just going to run it anew here, and hope you’ll enjoy my ramblings. This is exactly how it happened for me, and something I believe in with all my heart. Enjoy!
It’s Never Too Late
We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s never too late.” But how many of us really believe it? I suspect most of us are convinced that the dreams we once had are things of the past, and the path we ended up taking in life has led us too far in a different direction to make any of them come true now? A show of hands, please. Thought so.
Well, I’m here to tell you it just ain’t so. It’s never too late to change course, to follow that long-deferred dream, to live the life you really want to live. (Oh, and you can put your hands down, now, thanks.) But listen closely, because what I’m going to tell you is the Truth. With a capital T. You can take it to the bank.
My name is Marcia Meara, and I write books. Now, I didn’t always write them, though I always wanted to. By the age of five, I had decided I would be an author. All the way through twelve years of grade school, junior high (as it was called in my day), and high school, it was all settled in my mind. I’d live on the beach surrounded by cats, and write books. And then one day, right before the start of my senior year of high school, my parents told me I was being unrealistic, and that there was no way I could make a living writing books. Back in the Dark Ages of my youth, most of us did what our parents asked. Therefore, I got my business diploma, took an office job, got married, had kids, and found other ways to express my creativity, usually involving things made out of yarn or covered in barbecue sauce.
A little over two years ago, things changed. A very wise person told me that if I had been wanting to write my entire life, I should stop whining, go home, and just do it. That afternoon, I started my first novel, and nine months later (August, 2013), thinking I was just doing it for my own gratification, I published it. To my surprise, and unsurpassed delight, it started to sell! Amazing. I had done it. I had, against all odds, become a writer. At long, long last!
I was 69 years old when I published that book. If you’ve been reading closely, and done your math, you’ll know I’m now 71, and I’m in the process of writing my fifth novel, to be released in May, if all goes well.
Was it easy? No. Was it fast? Yes and no. Nine months is a fairly short amount of time in which to draft, edit, and publish a book, but writing anywhere from eight to twelve hours a day is hard work, and can seem like things are moving at a snail’s pace.
Was it worth it? Oh, yes. For more reasons than I can name, the first and foremost one being an immense sense of pride in accomplishing that long-cherished dream. And there is nothing in the world like hearing from people who have read and enjoyed what I’ve written.
Now, my expectations aren’t huge. Being pretty realistic about at least a few things, I’m not thinking in terms of the New York Times Best Seller list, or the next Great American Novel. I just want to write entertaining stories ordinary folks will enjoy reading. I want my books to be the best that I can make them, so I can be proud of what I’ve done, and so that readers feel their money was well spent. I work hard to turn out a well-written, well-edited product, and I learn something new about the process every day.
I taught myself to format my books for Kindle, and then for print, and I’m self-published every step of the way. Why? Well, for one thing, as I said, I’m 71 years old. I don’t have decades to wade around through seas of rejection letters, until someone, somewhere decides to take a chance on my book.
For another thing, I like being in control of the content and appearance of my books. I want to succeed or fail on my own merit, and not on what someone else thinks I should do. I’ve even chosen an editor who lets me have the final word, though I exercise the option to overrule her at my own peril, since she’s right 99% of the time. But all in all, I’m in control of my creative process, and I like it that way.
Is self-publishing right for everyone? Possibly not. But it’s right for me, and I do think every author should seriously consider the pros and cons of it before making a decision. Especially given the current state of the traditional publishing industry, and the amount of work an author still has to put forth, even if they go that route. I just don’t see much advantage to it.
But I digress. (I’m a writer now. We do that. A lot.) The point of all this is that if there is something you’ve wanted to do all your life, but never have, for one reason or another, what are you waiting for? The timing to be perfect? It never will be. There will always be a reason not to do something, but so what? Doesn’t mean it’s a good reason—just that it’s there in your mind, creating a stumbling block. Get rid of it. Step over it. Blast it with a flamethrower. All the while, repeating to yourself, “No stumbling blocks allowed. No reasons why not.”
Make up your mind and do it!
This concept doesn’t apply only to those who’ve always wanted to write a book. This is for those of you who’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano, or hike the Appalachian Trail. Whether it’s scuba diving off a tropical reef, or becoming a Cordon Bleu chef, a dream deferred is a part of you that’s slowly drying up and withering away. Now I don’t know about you, but at my age, terms that include words like “drying” and “withering” are not welcome. Nor are negative phrases, like “I can’t,” or “I shouldn’t,” or “I don’t have time,” or the sneakiest one of all, “Maybe someday.”
Folks, hate to break it to you, but we are all here on loan. And we never know when we’re going to be called home. So listen closely. Can you hear it? “Tick-tock. Tick-tock.” That’s TIME. Don’t waste a minute more of it ignoring what your heart really wants.
If you don’t know where to get started, go online and search for groups of folks doing the same things you want to do, especially those who have succeeded at it. Nothing is more inspirational than seeing how someone else made their own dream come true. Read. Take notes. Do your research. Read. Take a class at your local community college. READ. You can learn almost anything from books, remember. Ask others for help. Be open to ideas and suggestions. Hunt for ways to make it happen. They’re out there, I promise.
Whatever it takes, just do it.
I can’t repeat this enough: it’s never too late to follow your dream…unless your dream was to be a famous child actor. The ship might have sailed on that one. But mostly…it’s never too late. Write that on Post-It Notes. Put it on a screensaver. Create a meme. Tattoo it on your arm. Just don’t forget it. Don’t be talked out of it. Don’t put it off.
Make up your mind, take that first step, and never look back. I made my dream come true after 65 years. If I can do it, you can, too.
Be ready to work hard, because there usually aren’t any shortcuts. Be ready to learn something new every day. (It will keep you young!) Be ready to meet new people, make new friends, and have the experience of a lifetime.
Have faith in yourself. Believe in your dream, and your ability to reach your goals. Be realistic, but at the same time, reach for the stars. Some of them are attainable.
And keep on reminding yourself over and over: It’s never too late.