Have I Come To Writing Too Late?
On the weekend, I visited Nutcote, the museum home of Australian children's writing legend May Gibbs, who died in 1969. Her most famous novel for children is Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (the little guys pictured here), published in 1918. Coincidentally, this was the same year that Norman Lindsay published his Aussie classic, The Magic Pudding. There must have been something in the Billabong waters that year.
But I digress...
Why had I waited until my late 30s to visit Gibbs' home, a place I had wanted to see for years? Maybe it was the same reason I have only turned my attentions to a love of writing in my third decade. I'm a literary 'late bloomer'.
I showed early promise at writing in primary school and high school, scoring good grades in English and Creative Writing. Nothing too stellar but a glimmer of talent waiting to be developed. I studied English Literature to the highest level I could bear, opting to start working in the 'real world', rather than pursue a PhD in Eng. Lit.
The moment that stopped me in my tracks, however, was being rejected entry into a third-year Creative Writing course during my BA Hons degree. I was devastated. I had submitted a short story but in hindsight I think they were looking for a portfolio and my writing, though lightly satirical, was innocent and probably not tortured or mature enough for a university writing course. Whatever the reason, I lost confidence in my writing and decided to focus on a career using my research and organisational talents, taking me into TV, then higher education and magazines and events management for the banking industry. Over sixteen years in the workforce, I'd done well but was forever looking for a true path I could follow through.
Something clicked in my brain when I was spending time with my toddler in between work contracts, and I was inspired to sit down and write, for the first time in years. Not just one manuscript but three and like Daddy and the World's Longest Poo, all the stories are picture books and written in a humorous, irreverent style about the curious ways that little people think.
So, nearing my 40th birthday, I've decided to resist the urge to rush back to the security of another office job and pursue this thing they call 'writing for a living'. The 'living' part hasn't quite come yet but the writing part is flowing and for the first time in a very long time, I feel I am doing what I am meant to be doing. From marketing my book, reviewing books, polishing manuscript sfor submission, or blogging for 'Mummy' and lifestyle websites, I'm loving it all.
But have I left it too late? The financial pressure is certainly on. Maybe I can't afford to indulge my writing at this point in my life, or maybe I can't afford not to.
I opened this blog with Nutcote for a reason - May Gibbs. She died at the ripe old age of 92 and her career spanned eight decades, with her first artistic works achieving recognition when she was only a teenager. At my age, May still had over half of her writing career to go.
They say if you find something you really love doing, you are in no rush to retire, so theoretically, I have the rest of my life (however long that may be) to pursue my writing and make it work. I can only dream of the kind of success May Gibbs achieved but she has certainly inspired me. She never had children of her own but she knew what they loved to read.
That's why I'm starting with poo. Kids can't help but love toilet humour and while mass market success might still be a long way off, I'm finally in there with a chance. I'm not going to cave to rejection. I can write and I #amwriting.