Monday, September 02, 2013

As 50 Looms

I am 47 years old.  My 50th birthday will mark ten years of working seriously on my writing the way a professional should.  I have come a long way since my late 30s.  But as 50 looms, it seems to demand a big, landmark-type oath of some sort.

I am always leery of goals I cannot control.  I cannot force an agent to sign me or a publisher to buy my book.  However, if I am honest with myself, I know that's what I want.  I don't want to reach my 50th birthday still struggling and querying and hoping and clinging to the barest scraps of encouragement.  Not after ten years.  Not as I round the half-century mark of my life.  I want to stand before the world and say, "My goal is to have an agent or a book deal or both by the time I'm 50."  Such a statement terrifies me, fraught as it is with the potential for failure, riddled as it is with elements beyond my control.

I'm doing what I'm supposed to do to get there. Writing regularly.  Participating in a  critique group.  Attending conferences.  Building my digital platform.  Submitting my work.  But as 50 looms, I feel I should redouble my efforts somehow.

I have one finished novel and a bunch of short stories.  I've even sold some of those shorts.  I have a second novel that is finished but needing revision, which I'm working on diligently.  I have a third novel that has resisted the completion of a decent draft but keeps pulling at me.  And the rest of my life, my teaching job, my family, my other interests, they pull at me, too.

I really only have two and half years to go until I turn 50.  30 months.  30 months to, as my critique group puts it, "query the hell out of" my first novel, and finish revising the second one, and finish the third one.  But mostly, query the hell out of the first one, because without the queries and the pitches, that elusive agent/book deal will never, ever, ever happen.  Which would leave me with self-publishing, a possibility I have considered and rejected more times than I can count, and know I will revisit again before I hit that half-century milestone.

And then what?  If I haven't reached those goals by the time I reach the big 5-0, what then?  I don't imagine I will quit writing.  I can't help myself.  But I can't imagine just plodding on and on the same way, Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill over and over again indefinitely.

Ah, soul-searching.  The older you get, the more loaded it gets.


  1. I thought I'd be on the cover of Time Magazine by 30 - yeah, a little hubris goes a long way - and then had to content myself with other/different recognitions. I thought I'd retire with a big party after a long tenure having moved up the organizational ladder. Instead, at 60, I am opening my own little business.

    It's good to have goals, but also good to be flexible and to welcome the opportunities that come around dressed differently than you thought they would.

    Writing every day, as you do, is a wonderful accomplishment. Selling and having your short(s) awarded prize(s) is the dream of many writers who never even get the words committed to blank page.

    You are a wonderful writer! You are a wonderful teacher! You are a wonderful wife! You are a wonderful stepmother! You are a wonderful daughter! You are a wonderful friend!

    If you never get an agent nor ever publish a book, you will still be all these things. And while your efforts and results and talent certainly DESERVE an agent and a publishing deal, simply walking the journey with its unexpected detours and shaded rest stops may be the greatest gift.

    Someone said we live our life forward but only understand it as we look backwards.

  2. My writing adventure started a little bit later than yours. I was an oil painting teenager back in the 80s. I even painted a portrait of a little girl when I was 14 years old. :) I know, I know. I was very talented.

    But, as I grew into adulthood, something was missing. I had a story to tell, I just didn't know what it was. Still don't. This compels me to write, and so whatever else happens with my stories, even this novel I've yet to finish, I'll have done what I need to do in order to feed this hunger to get my story out. Whatever it may be. I'll discover it one day!

    Keep writing. My goal is to never stop.


Popular Posts