Whenever I see an article in the paper about some young person who has won an important first novel award, or got a massive advance on their first book, I have a mini meltdown. Its not that I would take their achievement away from them. Its just that I am now 46, and still struggling to finish a book that I am happy enough with to publish.
But how old is too old?
I could probably quote a dozen examples of authors who didn’t publish their first book until they were in their 60s or 70s. There are always the exceptions. I keep telling myself that its never too late to fulfil the dream of that first novel I wrote at the age of 16. But you have to really understand the fact in your heart, as well as in head.
Let me tell you a little story about fulfilling your dreams at any age.
The other day I went to my first Masked Ball. I’m not a dancer by any stretch of the imagination, but we had been invited to go by friends who are. It was an event run by the dancing school our friends attend, and as part of the entertainment, several of the school’s students danced exhibition dances. To uproarious applause, there were paso dobles and waltzes and tangos. (And there were lots of sparkles too, and I just love sparkles!)
And then a tiny little old lady in a lacy top and a bow in her hair got up, and danced the foxtrot with her lady teacher. And it was lovely. She got the biggest round of applause of the night.
Then the evening’s compere told us about her. How she had fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition recently by dancing in the British Ballroom Championships at the legendary Tower Ballroom in Blackpool.
Turns out, this lady, who reminded me a great deal of Mrs Pepperpot (if you remember her), was 86.
Eighty-six years old and still ballroom dancing. Competitively. Eighty-six years old and still pursuing her creativity. Eight-six years old and still fulfilling her dreams.
How old is too old?
Ask me when I get to 87.