I subscribe to Writer’s Digest Magazine and read articles every now and again. I should make better use of my subscription and read it more often, but that’s another story. What I don’t often do is read the letter from the editor. But in the latest November/December 2015 issue, I really liked the letter from the editor, Jessica Strawser:
Never Say Never
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The idea of feeling like it might be “too late” to do something doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with age.
I remember vividly the first time I was overcome with the unsettling sensation that certain ships had sailed. I was a new college graduate folding myself into the “real world”—and the realization that my unstructured, unspoken for days for the year ahead could suddenly be counted on my fingers
(weekends notwithstanding) made my blood still. I peered out at the sea of cubicles around me, anchored in a bigger sea of landlocked Midwestern states, and took a big, swift kick at myself. Why had I not studied abroad in college? Why had I not taken more than a week after graduation—the summer off, perhaps—before punching my first time card? There was no going back now. This was it. This was how it would be until … retirement? What had I done?
Of course, especially now that I’m raising a family of my own, that temporary sense of despair sometimes seems almost laughable now. I didn’t have anyone but me to take care of. It wasn’t really too late to travel, or to take more time to find myself, or to change my mind—about anything. The opportunities to take those paths just weren’t going to be as readily available. Pursuing them would require more strategizing. More careful planning. More guts.
I think that is what we really mean when we lament that it might be “too late” to do something with our writing—to publish our first book, or to leave our day job and try writing full time, or to break out of a genre we’ve somehow gotten pigeonholed into, or even just to boldly say the words “I’m a writer!” out loud. Whether we’re 25 or 75, when the voices in our heads whisper that it’s too late, or when we mumble those loaded words to a well-meaning friend who asks, “Whatever happened to your idea to …”, what we’re really saying is that we wish we’d done it already. Th at we wish it were easier to do it now. That we don’t really know how to get started, or what to do next. That we’re afraid of what people will think, or afraid to have regrets later, afraid to make mistakes, afraid to fail.
When you think of it that way, it’s clear that it’s never really “too late.” We just need to believe that we can do it, to be willing to take action, and to form a plan. This issue is loaded with road maps to help you pursue the detours you’ve been dreaming of. Learn from other writers who’ve taken the long way around. Get inspired to map out your own trip. Fill your tank, pack your bags and embrace the journey as part of the destination. When you get there, as editor and author Stephanie Stokes Oliver so wisely says in her essay on Page 29, you won’t be late. You’ll be right on time.
I’m in my mid-40’s and though I haven’t done as much writing as I could have or should have since I started this journey 20 years ago. . .it’s still not too late for me. It’s not too late for you either.
Whether you are starting for the first time or re-starting your writing journey. . .at least start!
Then keep on writing!!