Monday, February 7, 2011

Late Bloomers

It is never too late to be what you might have been.- George Eliot

Though I've enjoyed writing from my early school days, I started my authoring career rather late in life. Because of my great procrastination skills, I was able to come up with excuses until…well, I simply ran out of reasons not to write.

Going through the writing and publication process with my first novel, I feel older and wiser. I learned there is no such word as fast in the publishing world. It took a long time before I held a copy of The Ride in my hands. The process is no speedier with book number two, Reigning Cats and Dogs.

There are days I chastise myself for not diving into the writing world at a much younger age. However, after reading "Grandma next door" poet a Japan bestseller at 99” on, I’m feeling so much younger and more inspired. According to the article:

“Shibata began her literary journey at 92 when she could no longer continue with her decades-long hobby of classical Japanese dance due to back pain. Her son Kenichi, currently in his mid-60s, recommended she try poetry writing.”

At the age of 99, Toyo Shibata’s self-published poetry book is a bestseller. The collection of 42 poems is titled, Don’t be Too Frustrated.

Here are a few other snippets, but you can read the entire article here.

“Last week, helped by a late boost of publicity from a television documentary in December, the book hit 1.5 million copies in print, said publisher Asukashinsha. Printing 10,000 copies is often seen as a success for poetry books in Japan."

“…Written in what reviewers have termed a down-to-earth style with "sprightly" words, her poems have proven encouraging to thousands of readers.”

"Although 98, I still fall in love. I do have dreams; one like riding on a cloud," Shibata confesses in one poem with the title of "Secret."

"A flower bloomed from a century-old tree, and it's all because of your support," said Shibata, who is writing poems for a new collection to be published ahead of her 100th birthday."

Of course, she is not the only successful writer who started late in life. Harriet Doerr was 73 when her first novel, Stones for Ibarra, was released. The book won a National Book award. Mary Wesley, bestselling author of The Camomile Lawn and Jumping the Queue, began her writing career at age 71. Frank McCourt was 66 when Angel’s Ashes was published.

Did you follow your dreams and passions from an early age or are you a late bloomer, too?

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope to see you again next week.

Tags: George Eliot, Toyo Shibata, late bloomers, Harriett Doerr, Mary Wesley, Frank McCourt,The Ride,Reigning Cats and Dogs,


Jim Murdoch said...

I started writing poetry when I was about thirteen. When I was in my mid-thirties, much to my great surprise, I wrote two novels but it wasn’t until I was stuck on my third novel about ten years later that I tackled the short story for the first time since having to write them at school – I spent two years writing them and haven’t written one since but I have finished two more novels and I’m still writing poetry. In my heart-of-hearts that’s what I am, a poet, and all the other stuff are just things I do to keep myself occupied when I’m not working on poems. As a kid though I harboured no dreams of being a writer. I can’t even say I was much of a reader if truth be told. That I’ve ended up one is as much a surprise to me as it is to everyone who knew me back then.

KarenG said...

I am definitely a late bloomer! So I really enjoyed this post! Like you, I got at it when I ran out of excuses. Sigh. Yes, I wish I had started sooner. I admire the writers I've gotten to know through blogging who are young, have jobs, families and still set aside time to work on the novel.

Elisabeth said...

What's late? I went back to writing in my late thirties, but only more seriously in the last fifteen years. I wrote poetry as a child and then slipped off in another direction until fortune and circumstance turned me back.

None of us should ever let age be an impediment to our dreams.

I have a friend who took up mountain climbing in her fifties. to me that's more unmanageable, but she'd tried Everest twice and is soon onto her third attempt.

As you imply Jane, when it comes to writing, any time's possible. Thanks, Jane.

Joanne said...

What an inspiring post! I'm not sure if I'm a late bloomer, or a slow bloomer. I started writing years ago, penning freelance articles for local publications, newspaper commentary, that sort of thing. But it took several years for that to grow into writing and marketing complete manuscripts. I took one slow step at a time!

Carol Kilgore said...

I've always been an avid novel reader, and my jobs have all involved writing - but things like proposals, marketing material, ads. Slowly I learned not everyone carried around stories and characters in their heads, and I figured out I was supposed to write them down.

Old Kitty said...

Awwwww how inspirational! I love stories like these! I'll say I always had the passion to write and tell stories. I guess I'm a late bloomer though as it's only now I'm a little more confident in sending my work out!!

I remember reading an article in the paper here about Carmen Herrera - an artist who found fame at the lovely age of 94! I was so inspired!!

Take care

The Old Silly said...

Love this topic and how you handled it. I followed my youngster-aged dream of being a musician, all the way into my early thirties, but ... had to get a 'real job' when I didn't make the Big Time and had a family started that needed to be supported. My writing career was a surprise - never planned on it as a young man - but a pleasant way to keep busy and derive some artistic satisfaction in my 'Golden Years'.

Marvin D Wilson

Karen Walker said...

Oh, I am definitely a late bloomer. I began writing my memoir at 50 and it was 10 years later that it was published. I also always wanted to sing. At 50, hubs got me a guitar. Now, I sing with a trio at retirement communities. I'm all for late blooming. Better late than never, I say.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Jim, I guess we don’t always know what our passion is until we stumble upon it.

Karen, well…at least we can apply that “better late than never” adage.

Elisabeth, that’s a good question. I guess for writers who start in their teens, 30 might be old, but I’d call it young.

Joanne, I’d say you took a practical approach that developed into something more.

Carol, thanks for the laugh. I’m glad you figured out how to get that stuff out of your head.

Old Kitty, looks like that’s proof that creativity knows no age limits.

Marvin, I’ve met several other musicians turned writer. I think lyrics are a form of poetry and/or storytelling, so it make sense.

Karen, I say go for it and enjoy the fact that you’re doing it now!

Linda Leszczuk said...

Another late bloomer here. I've been writing off and on forever and made a real push to get published once or twice (got as far as a contract with an agent once) but always got discouraged and put it aside. The biggest difference this time around is this - linking with other writers on line. Before, I was always working in a vacuum. I think this will make all the difference.

Helen Ginger said...

I started writing young, but abandoned it for years when the kids were little. Don't know what the term for me would be!

Arlee Bird said...

Gosh, I feel like a youngster now after reading about some of those folks. I never totally abandoned writing, but I have become more serious in the past few years about it. Of course, unemployment can make one want to write more.

Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

Hart Johnson said...

YAY! I've seen a list of best-selling authors who started late and it definitely helps keep me going. I'm not THAT late... I guess I started getting serious at about 40 and will have my first published novel at 45. I just think some people's lives can't really fit it in until later. I've always had to work full time and I have a family, so until my kids were older and a little more independent, there just really WASN'T time.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Age brings wisdom and experience! I'd always wanted to be an author but waited until my late 30s to pursue it. But I would've been awful had I started when I was in my 20s!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think most of the writers I know started a lot later in life. I was 30 at the time, but even 10 years later I feel like the baby in most groups of published writers. In some ways, I think it helps to have some age and experience when writing a story.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Best seller at 99? That gives me hope!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Linda, making a connection with local and online writing groups helped me bring my writing out in the open. Contact with others going through the same experience is very beneficial. I think it will make a difference for you, too.

Helen, I’d call you a preempted early bloomer.

Arlee, it made me feel younger, too.

Hart, I’d count you as an early bloomer and from I read on your blog, you’re making up for lost time anyway with all your projects.

Diane, you still started quite young.

Elizabeth, you would be a baby in the groups I belong to, also. That’s good, though, because we learn different things from each other.

Me, too, Alex!

Ciara said...

I wrote poetry in high school and short stories in college, but abandoned the art of writing for years. Fast forward to SAHM of three boys and now I write. Of course, because I had to wait until spare time would be in abundance and there would be no distractions. :)

Rayna M. Iyer said...

If I ever bloom as a writer, it would definitely be late. Have been making up stories since I was a kid, but started writing short stories only in my mid- thirties. In the last four years, I have not written at all- except one novel I finished and never edited- not enough time is the excuse.
Maybe someday, I will find the inspiration to write.

Susanne Drazic said...

As some people say, it's never too late to get started!

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in 5th or 6th grade, but always put my writing on the back burner whenever life got in the way. I'm trying to finally realize that dream of being a writer, now that I am older and hopefully wiser.

DazyDayWriter said...

Late bloomers are fabulous -- the soul becomes more beautiful with age. Great post, Jane.

Jayne said...

Oh Jane, this gives me hope. I've been a late bloomer in just about every arena my whole life. Although, when I was school aged I wrote like a fiend, and wrote for my H.S. newspaper. But for various reasons, I failed to pursue my dream until... well now, I guess.
So glad you took the time to write about this.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Ciara, I don’t see how you do it! The chaos must feed your creative side.

Rayna, I think completing a novel, whether it’s edited or not, is quite an accomplishment. I have a feeling you’ll dig it out again when the time is right

Susanne,in my opinion, if you’re writing, your’re a writer.

Daisy, I love that sentiment!

Jayne, I think Toyo is a wonderful example of how dreams can be pursued at any age.

MAryse said...

Hi Jane,
I haven't visited in a while. Nice to read you again. I do believe that we get to do everything at the right time. Every experience in life is an ingredient to the marvelous soup of our creativity. No regrets. You are where you're supposed to be.
Much love

Jen Chandler said...

I've always been a writer. I started seriously pursuing it when I was 18. It's been an on again off again love affair since then but for the past 5 years, it's been a priority.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I was 65 when The Prairie Grass Murders was published. I've been feeling a little down about the publishing timeline which doesn't favor older writers like me, but your post inspires me (and I love that this woman self-published -- smart lady).

Christina Rodriguez said...

One of the great things about creating art (whether visual or literary), is that there is no age requirement. You can start at any age, and there are no limits to the success that can be attained.

When I first graduated from art school, I was a bit freaked out, thinking I had to GET PUBLISHED RIGHT NOW or risk being a failure. Now that I'm a bit older and more mature, I can see the journey more clearly, and that each stage has its merits. I really do believe that you need to "pay your dues" in this business.

Zev said...

This is very inspiring. Thanks for sharing. I'm 27 and I am trying to follow my true dreams, but sometimes I feel like it will take me many more years to completely understand what they are.

The Words Crafter said...

I have something for you on my blog today!

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

Late bloomer here! I'm 42 and just now getting serious (sort of) about my writing. I too am a star procrastinator! Thanks so much for sharing...we all need encouraging words like this from time to time.

Love the title of your second book!

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world