Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Never Too Late

My posts are often targeted at young writers—the ones that contact me most often with questions. But today I’m talking to writers of a certain age. Yes, you. You may not even be that old—but you’re old enough to ask yourself whether it’s too late to become a writer.
If this doesn’t apply to you—well, then, go write something!
All of my life I have been transforming myself, and each time I did, I asked myself, 'Am I too old to be doing this?'
Even when I was only 27, and thinking about going back to school to become a dietitian. I wondered--should I spend three years in school at MY age? And I thought to myself, in three years, you'll be thirty, whether you do this or not. And so I did it.
I began writing in third grade, and continued through high school. But I got away from the writing habit in college, when I was buried under school work and a nearly full time job. I wrote term papers and case studies and eventually papers for professional journals. But I left poetry and fiction behind.
I got back into writing as a working mother of young children. I was still busy, but I had something to say. I found out that I still had a lot to learn. So I made time to write and learn my craft.
Eventually, I became a fairly successful freelance writer. But I knew that freelance writing would always be a part-time gig, and I longed to go back to fiction. So about ten or twelve years ago, I made a conscious decision to focus on novels. Given that I also had a day job, it meant giving up some freelance work. And I asked myself, "Am I too old to be doing this?" But I did.
I published my first novel four years ago, and I’ve released a book a year since then. I have been a full time writer for two years now.
In my opinion, it’s never too late to transform yourself, if you focus on process instead of outcome. Writing isn’t like ballet--it’s never too late to begin. I intend to keep at it until they pry my cold, dead hands from the keyboard.
What you shouldn't do is wait until the perfect time to do it. There are easier seasons in your life to launch into a new endeavor, but there will never be a perfect time. So don't wait until you finish school, until you retire, until the children are all grown, until your life magically untangles itself. It takes time to become the best writer you can be. Start now.
On the one hand, I know I will never live long enough to write all my stories down. I regret that. On the other hand, maybe that’s how long it took to gain the skill and life experience I needed to be the writer I am.


kathrynjankowski said...

Working full-time in a stressful job sapped all my energy, so I took early retirement and haven't looked back.

Yes, there are stories I'll never write, but I believe my life's work informs my writing and it's better late than never.

Thanks for the post, Cinda. I'm inspired by your success.

Sunny Haralson said...

That's inspiring. I'm 35, I didn't write anything until three years ago-now it's all I do. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Unknown said...

As a mother of 2 (and pregnant) with a husband in gradschool, reading has quickly become my relaxation time. I found warrior heir at a book sale an got hooked. Then we had to go find the other two to finish the series (didn't bother with the library, we had to own these!) At the end of the trilogy it mentioned Deamon King, so I purchased it...couldn't put it down. I love authors such as yourself that seem to have good practical knowledge of the world that truely enhances their writting. Its been a pleasure to read your books, you need to write MUCH faster, since I am dying to read more! Your books will be kept in the family library and I can't wait till my kids are a little older, (3, 5) to read them themselves. (Ps. My dear hubby is hooked as well )

Thank you!
An Indiana Mommy

CindaChima said...

Ann, thank you! I told my agent I wish I could write faster because I have so many ideas! The breaking news is I just made a deal for three more books with Hyperion: a fourth Seven Realms and two more Heir books. So I mean to stay busy! CWC