From time to time, I come across stories about people who have become successful in their writing endeavours that little bit later in life.
Sometimes these good people explain how they left it horribly late in their existence to get to where they are now. They use this lateness, quite correctly, as an example of how doggedness and tenacity can eventually pay off, even if it does take a very, very long time.
In my experience, these people, well, they’re generally about twenty seven years old.
I wonder sometimes. I just wonder, if they hadn’t cracked it at ‘generally about twenty seven’, would they have still been just as dogged and tenacious at fifty one?
Which is where I am now.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of little successes and loads of fun along the road to here. I’ve had plays, audiences, stories and readers aplenty. More than many others have had. I’ve been lucky and, yes, even successful in my own way. But, in my head, I haven’t ever cracked it. Not really.
So, what do I mean by ‘cracking it’?
Firstly, there’s lots of things I don’t mean. You don’t get to the age of fifty one without gaining some appreciation of what may be possible and what, patently, is not. That old song from ‘High Society’, ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ could perhaps be adapted to tell the tale.
Who wants a shelf of top ten hits?
Who wants to be the biggest shit?
Who wants to be a J K Rowling Success?
A ‘Rowling Success? ‘Could not want it less.
About that last one… oh, you get the gist.
If I’m honest, really honest, here’s what would constitute ‘cracking it’ for me.
To write something that would allow me the economic time and the space to be able to write the next thing. And, in turn, for that next thing to enable me to write the next. And so on.
I know it’s a very common refrain. “I would love to write but I haven’t got the time.” I know that song but it’s not mine. I don’t have enough time but still I make time. I carve it out of someplace whenever I can. But I crave more time. And, truth be told, I’m a bit haunted by what I could do with that ‘more time’, if I had it.
Time and space to write how I want to write and an audience of some sort to partake in it. That would do very nicely, thanks. That would be ‘cracking it’.
I’m fifty one and, no, I’m not particularly dogged or tenacious. But I haven’t given up either. You do come to a gentle realisation, at this stage, that you’ll probably never truly crack it. But, still, I work on as best I can. Writing, and dreaming-up and re-writing and re-dreaming-up. I have to, really. It’s in my blood. There’s simply no choice in the matter.
These days, I reckon that I can write better than I could ever write before. Plus I’ve got a shed-load of life experience. There’s still time and energy and there’s still the will, too.
To do what, though?
To write something really good. That’s what. Not to get rich or famous. Not to be envied, feared or respected.
Just to… get it written.