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Late blooming writers

This post is for everyone over 50 who thinks it’s too late to take up writing. I didn’t take it seriously until I saw my 60th  looming on the horizon and I knew if I was going to do anything interesting with this part of my life, I’d better get busy. Fast.

I jumped in with both feet and never looked back. After I got a few chapters into a children’s story I realized I had no idea where I was going and how to get there. So I spent the next year researching, trying to understand the structure of a plot and how to create characters. I studied archetypes and astrological signs; what makes a good protagonist and worthy antagonist.

Since my book, Guardian Cats, is seen through the eyes of cats, I did extensive research into cat behavior, including cat body language, cat whisperers and a whole host of YouTube cat videos. My collage of delicious bookmarks ranges from such diverse studies as The World Egg Throwing Federation, pirates and bullies, raccoons, talking parrots and pet psychics.

My computer, driven to its limits, crashed and burned. I lost all my research, photos and and half my files. I slogged on, determined that I wouldn’t drop the ball. There was no turning back, especially after a year of sleep deprivation that it took to study this fascinating craft.

The more I studied, the more I was hooked. Whenever thoughts crept into my mind like– ‘You’re too late! Too old. You should have kept up your writing when you started years ago. Then you’d be somewhere now…’–I slammed the door in their faces. Threw rotten tomatoes, eggs, anything handy, at those whiny, demonic little beings.

The thing is, my previous attempts at writing were childish and immature…when I was a mere 20, 30, 40 years old.  I like to think that all my living counts for something and that being over the hill a late bloomer might actually help.

Here are a few tips for other late blooming writers.

  • Read like crazy. Haunt libraries, bookstores, Amazon and GoodReads.
  • Study the craft of writing like you are attending a university.  Take it seriously, but keep it fun, if that makes any sense.
  • Throw rotten eggs at your demons.
  • Patience and determination will be your best companions.
  • Write without expectations. Write because you love it.  Like my mentor, Ray Bradbury, says:
“Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.”

Don’t listen to the news!

I have quit listening to the news and watching TV (almost) because it is bad for my mental health. Much of what we are fed daily keeps us stressed about money and financial security, while at the same time it encourages us to keeping buying and going deeper into debt. Vicious, vicious circle.

It’s time for a revolution! Time to break out of our small Walmart ideas of the perfect life and start living. Time to stop cruising around the shore going in circles and think of life as a voyage. It is truly an adventure and it’s all around us. The cup is half full overflowing!

This quote, by Sterling Hayden stopped me in my tracks because it is such a powerful expression of what I’d like to say. And besides, he actually followed through on this. He would have loved Matt Harding of the famed “Where the hell is Matt?’ experience.  (video embedded below)

“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… cruising, it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in.

If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about. “I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security. And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it.

But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?”  from The Wanderer, by Sterling Hayden, actor and author

Thanks to Sid at Right Brain Therapy for introducing me to Matt. Watch a truly joyous contemporarywanderer.



Waking up without coffee

hubble_34sfwMusic takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The right word


“A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words… the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt.”

Mark Twain

Genuine humor


“Laughter without a tinge of philosophy is but a sneeze of humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom.” Mark Twain






Conversation with my muse: follow up




Marco is the protagonist in my (yet to be published) children’s book, The Dead Cats’ Society.  He’s also a real cat. See photo at left. 

Marco has another role in my life, being that of my muse. It’s a complex relationship, but it works. He’s the one I talk to when I need a sounding board for something I’m writing. See A Conversation with my Muse. and “How to explain cyberspace to your cat.”

So, knowing he’s the hero of my story,  my hidden partner has suddenly decided he wants some of the limelight. Being a subtle cat, he didn’t make a lot of noise about this desire of his. Instead, he left me the following note in my ‘Suggestion Box’.

“I’d like people to know I’m more than just a furry paperweight. Have you told them I am a Reader cat? You could share something about my favorite books with your readers? They might find this interesting.   Marco”

Furry paperweight
Furry paperweight

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I hadn’t got around to writing a post specifically about him. Up ’til now he’s only appeared in the form of my muse. But Marco definitely deserves a blog post of his own. Not only does he fulfill that warm, fuzzy pet need and the higher calling of a muse, but Marco is also one of the endangered species of cats who can read.

You read that right and there’s others out there. Your cat might be a reader too, but you might not be aware of it. Cats will wait until everyone is asleep before cracking a book, since they hate it when everyone makes a big deal out of it. They embarrass easily, so if you do catch them, just pretend like you don’t notice or that it is normal. If you’ve encountered books scattered out on the floor when you get up in the morning, now you know how it happened. Whatever you do, don’t try to make your cat put the books back on the shelves. They will absolutely balk at this and probably never pick up a book again.

I like to keep my cat happy, so I will post things that he leaves in the Suggestion Box from time to time.  A recent read on Marco’s bookshelf is  The Palace of Laughter, by John Berkeley. I picked this one out myself, but he finished it before me. (He has loads more reading time.) Marco liked this book, but not quite as well as I did. I found Palace of Laughter well written with a great cast of characters and just the right touch of the wicked evil. 

The story begins when the Circus Oscuro comes to town in the dead of night. Miles, an orphan boy who lives in a barrel, is the only one who sees their mysterious arrival. When Little, a tiny circus performer who is actually a 400 year old winged girl, escapes from the sinister circus, the duo sets off to rescue two friends from an even more sinister sideshow called ‘The Palace of Laughter’.

With characters named Lady Partridge, the Great Cortado, The Null and Baltinglass of Araby what’s not to love? Marcos’ favorite characters were Lady Partridge and Miles. We agreed on that much. We tried to work out a compatible book rating system, but they don’t quite mesh. (Marco’s ratings are from one to four paws. Mine is on a scale of 1-5 stars.)

Marco rated The Palace of Laughter is:  three paws.  He would have given it four, except he said there were no cats in the story. I mentioned the tiger, but he said it wasn’t the same. I didn’t argue with him, but I gave the book a big 5 star rating. I would highly recommend for any younger reader.

Thankfully, Mr. Berkeley kept on writing. Palace of Laughter is part of the “Wednesday triology”. The next one is titled The Tiger’s Egg which we will review soon.

Do you suspect your cat reads? Please share your story.