Thursday, September 3, 2009


    This blog is dedicated to my senior writing students and mentoring clients, those of us who are 55 and older. You know who you are. You are the breadwinners, the nurturers of grown or nearly grown children and of parents, the neighborhood volunteers, church members, responsible laborers who have spent your lives doing what had to be done to support yourself, by whatever means necessary and practical, while nurturing a secret dream. You dreamt of writing the story of your life, penning a novel in which others would lose themselves, or creating a book that would teach others a little of what you've learned in life. You wished you could leave behind the job that no longer seemed as satisfying as it once was and live the life of a writer, spending your days weaving tales, reading, researching, thinking great thoughts. But you put off that time because you couldn't see a way to survive on words. You put off that time until now when you are staring retirement in the face, or you found yourself out of work or well into retirement. You realize that it's time to follow your dream—it's your now-or-never time. Your chance to write and become a published author.

    I am proud of you! Every one of you. It takes courage to face a dream then do something active, even aggressive, toward achieving your goal. I am in awe of your ability to learn by dint of hard work—practicing your craft, learning new skills, writing your heart out. On seeing first attempts by some of my students I've felt heart sore at the mistakes—little or huge—that have obviously stood in the way of publication. But then a little miracle happens. With a little instruction, a few sessions of editing and review, perseverance on the writer's part…I witness lovely changes. Stiff sentences begin to flow. Troublesome repetition disappears. Characters spring to life. The writer's world becomes something I can almost walk into.

    What I need to say to you, my senior writers (and, really, to all mature writers who have been struggling with their own dreams of publication, even if I haven't had the honor of working with you) is that you haven't waited too long to write! Whether you are 56 years old, 76, or 96…you are at the right age to write your story. You have a wealth of experience behind you that will enrich your writing. You have the capacity and will to learn much faster than when you were a teenager, because you know how to focus your energies. You have learned to draw from the experiences of others, and so you open your mind to fresh techniques, forgotten skills and even the new electronic technologies available to writers today.

    No matter your age, there's a place for your writing. This is a marvelous art form that doesn't discriminate due to race, education, social position, sex, or age. Success in writing—whether for magazines, newsletters, church bulletins, or books—is based on ideas and words. That's all. So if your heart is set on finishing that short story you started months or years ago and set aside, then pick it up again and finish it. If you sometimes feel discouraged about submitting or selling the novel you've written, keep it circulating to agents or publishers…and meanwhile, follow your muse and plunge into work on your next work-in-progress. Come back to me often, and I'll try to pass along all the tips I can to help you. There Is no better time than now, in these fully ripe years of your life, to write…write…write. – Kathryn –

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