I got a great comment from a gentleman on one of my older posts about starting late in life.
Basically, what he said was that he felt behind starting at forty-five. His comment brought clearly back to mind how I felt for years about how I felt that I was starting very late at the age of thirty-two. (I had wasted seven years ahead of that writing almost nothing and rewriting everything to death. I hated that I had done that.)
And I know that all of us, at one point or another have these sorts of thoughts.
When indie publishing came in and Kris and I focused on it, I was already mostly done with traditional publishing and was going to head back to playing professional poker. Then here comes indie publishing and we fired up and I did the covers and publishing and we started with some of our backlist short fiction and then did Kris’s novels.
I loved doing the covers and the interiors and the loading. Great fun for a while. (Most of my covers sucked, but that is another topic, I got the stories up and they were selling.)
Two-hundred-and-twenty titles later, we were making enough to hire good help and Allyson joined us and took over the WMG Publishing corporation and has run it ever since. Four years now.
And for a time I could help, but then one day about three years ago now, I sort of woke up and realized I had nothing to contribute to WMG besides a few short stories. I had been a media writer, a ghost writer, and had written books under pen names I couldn’t use.
Three years ago, at the age of 62, I had exactly one novel to indie publish and yet another ghost novel through traditional publishing I had to do.
In other words, at the age of 62, I was looking at starting fresh in a brand new publishing world. And I had the exact same feelings the gentleman that wrote me talked about.
I felt I was too late.
I was too old.
All my lawyer friends were retiring. But I didn’t feel like retiring or going and playing poker just yet. I was liking the freedom of the new publishing world.
So for that spring and early summer, I battled those feelings until I finally just decided that if I didn’t do it, I would always regret it, and that has been a major rule in my life, never leave anything to regret later.
Also I had just had a great friend die suddenly at 63 and I was really, really feeling that time was short.
So in July of 2013, at the age of 62, I announced the challenge and the creation of Smith’s Monthly. All I had was the knowledge I could write and some short stories.
So off I went, writing and posting about the writing since that August 1st. And the first issue of Smith’s Monthly came out in October of 2013 and issue #28 will be going into WMG this next week while #26 and #27 are in the production process.
A new novel every month now in the issues.
And now in my 65th year I’m trying something I never thought I would get a chance to try, and that’s a year of short fiction. We’ll see how things go in the next few months on that, but the age isn’t slowing me down.
In fact, the feeling of starting late has spurred me even more.
And spurred me to make decisions, lots and lots of them, about only doing what I enjoy.
For example, I love playing in collectables like comics and marbles, so we bought back my old store and are starting a second store.
I love teaching and studying writing at deep levels, so we are still running workshops.
I love short fiction, so playing with that this year to an intense level.
I love having my own magazine every month, so going to keep that up.
And so on.
What being 65 years old and starting at 62 has taught me is that if you feel time is short, use that feeling to your advantage.
No matter your age, if you feel you are starting late, don’t just think there is no point. Do the exact opposite: Work harder, learn more, push faster.
Use the fear of starting late as a fuel. That’s what I did when I was 32 and starting off and that’s what I did when I started fresh into this new world at 62.
And what I find interesting is that now, at 65, because I pushed so hard, I am making more money on my writing than I ever did working in traditional.
And I am having more fun.
It is never too late. Go have fun with your writing.