In my last post, Writing After Age 50–It’s Never Too Late, I shared the advantages of being an older writer. Today, I want to add several quotes from the late author, Ursula K. Le Guin. (You might remember being a child and reading her wonderful “Catwings” book series. Ms. Le Guin is also well-known for her speculative fiction, 21 novels, 11 volumes of short stories, essays, and poetry.) She said:
“If you want to strike out in any new direction—you go alone. With a machete in your hand and the fear of God in your heart.”
As an older writer venturing into the world of publishing for the first time, you might be afraid to take that first step into the unfamiliar. But, think about it—how many times in your life have you taken that first step? Beginning with the first day of school when you were a child you’ve stepped into the unknown again and again, and it’s turned out all right. This is nothing new. You’ve been here before. You’ve been given all the life-tools you need. You have faith. God is on your side. Just take that first step and start walking.
“The whole process of getting old — it could have been better arranged. But you do learn some things just by doing them over and over and by getting old doing them. And one of them is, you really need less. And I’m not talking minimalism, which is a highly self-conscious mannerist style I can’t write and don’t want to. I’m perfectly ready to describe a lot and be flowery and emotive, but you can do that briefly and it works better. My model for this is late Beethoven. He moves so strangely and quite suddenly sometimes from place to place in his music, in the late quartets. He knows where he’s going and he just doesn’t want to waste all that time getting there. But if you listen, if you’re with it, he takes you with him. I think sometimes about old painters — they get so simple in their means. Just so plain and simple. Because they know they haven’t got time. One is aware of this as one gets older. You can’t waste time.”
You can’t waste time. If you want to write, this is your moment. Think about times in your past when you’ve stumbled. How did those times change you? What did you learn? Chances are you’ve picked up solid life lessons along the way. You’ve learned to toss out what’s unimportant and make what’s important even better. Think about this—what simple life lessons have you learned that you can apply to this new writing adventure?
“Go on and do your work. Do it well. It is all you can do.”
What are you waiting for? What’s holding you back? If you are serious about being a writer, it’s not too late. But you have to get going! Start working. Write as well as you are able; it’s all you can do. As you write, the more you write, you will find yourself learning and improving. Who knows what you might accomplish in these next decades of your life?
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