Today I turn 59 years old. It’s hard to believe that only four years have passed since I began to seriously proceed on my writing journey. I’ve always written stories as soon as I knew how to read and write. When I was young, I dressed up in some type of costume or outfit living out the fantasies in my head as a part of my play.
As my younger sisters grew, I included them in my make-believe worlds assigning them roles. Our little trio did pre-school improvisation presenting our playacting fun to our family. I wrote songs (bad songs), and to this day my sister and I remember one of them and can sing it. No one, trust me, no one wants to hear it.
In high school, an English teacher thought enough of my stories to submit one to a national competition. It didn’t win any prizes but knowing that he’d thought enough of my work to submit it made me so proud. Why didn’t I end up writing my first book until I was fifty-five years old? Life — it’s that simple and that complex.
I hear writers lament about not starting sooner or worrying that the fact they began writing, later in life diminishes their creativity in some way. As if being an empty-nester or a retiree, somehow lessens the validity of what they are doing. The words and phrases like “hobby”, “time on my hands”, and “writing for the enjoyment” reduce the level of professionalism and creativity because the author is older.
When I was thirteen years old, I visited my uncle and aunt in Newtown, Connecticut for a summer. My aunt’s grandmother had painted several canvases I’d admired. One was a masted ship sailing on an ocean, another illustrated a lush Japanese garden, and the third painting depicted a scene showing my young cousin playing at the beach. I remember these works vividly, and also that my aunt’s grandmother was in her nineties when she began painting.
Toni Morrison published her first novel at age 40. Dorothy Allison, the author of Bastard Out of Carolina was 42 years old when it hit the scene. George Saunders was an environmental engineer before becoming a best-selling author at age 37. George Eliot published for the first time when she was 40. The author of White Oleander, Janet Fitch, knew she wanted to write at age 21, but didn’t publish her first book for another 18 years. Even Mark Twain didn’t write Huckleberry Finn until he was 49! Other authors who had their first breakthroughs after their mid-thirties include: Cheryl Strayed, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Maya Angelou.
Being older doesn’t negate the creative voice, but it can accentuate the depth of life experiences we bring on our writing journey. I’ve had over forty years of heartbreak, love, sadness, triumphs, failures, and joy that my young teenaged self hadn’t experienced yet. I worked as a nurse for over thirty years, served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, became a wife, a mother, and a bed & breakfast owner during those years. I lived in Texas, Florida, and Italy. I traveled to multiple countries and across the USA. Every single memory good and bad influence the words I place on the page.
It’s never too late to tell your stories. Don’t ever let your age whether young or more mature (like me) stop you from pursuing your creative dream. It is valid at any age.
OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.
Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers and in the One Million Project Fiction Anthology. Her Clare Thibodeaux Series which includes the suspense books — EXODUS, WINTER’S ICY CARESS, and NEVER SHOW YOUR HAND — is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Kate’s stories can also be found in the magazine — Mom’s Favorite Reads available on Amazon and Smashwords.
Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.
If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.
Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.