I’m a late bloomer. Well, not in all respects. I spoke in complete sentences before I could walk, according to Mom. She likes to add that I haven’t shut up since. But as an adult, I “became myself” a little late. Perhaps the fact that I never had children has allowed me to experiment more than other women my age. It’s been a sadness and a luxury, no doubt.
I started martial arts when I was 39, obtained my second degree black belt at 48. Around the same time I started writing, on a whim. I was never, ever a person who said “I’ve always wanted to write.” I was in publishing for many years, and I saw what a tough business it is. I always wanted my own publishing company, but thank God I had the sense to know what a smart business person one needs to be to do so (or I’d probably be in court with a bankrupt epublishing business right about now).
No, it was a whim. I’d spent a lifetime reading fantasy, suspense, the classics, and romance—actually devoting myself to different genres for years at a time. I’d lived on the road for many years as an archaeologist, in Greece, Turkey, and England. You might think that archaeology is a romantic business. It’s hard work, much of it very mundane, but I believe one needs to be a romantic in the broadest sense of the word to enter that field.
My writing was born of a romantic crush on Legolas. There, I said it. I wrote when the Lord of the Rings epic films were all consuming. I had a dream of a man sweeping a woman onto his horse (the logistics of that is pretty silly, really), and decided to write about it. That ended up as the first chapter of The Princes of Anfall, my first published book (now re-released through Samhain). The words kept coming, the stories kept flowing, and before I knew it, I was sitting at the Mall, signing two books and wondering how I got there. I didn’t really want to write, did I? I was just penning my quirky dreams.
I hear that agents and big publishing houses want young writers, those with long careers ahead of them. I’m only fifty, and while that may seem ancient to some of you, it’s not. Sure, I have more medical specialists and prescriptions than the average 30 year old, but I also have something else going on. I’ve seen a lot. Good relationships and bad, with enough distance from them to know the true difference. Romance, love, and lust, not in equal measure. Perspective on family dynamics that comes not only from having a psych degree as well as an archaeology degree (ugh, that sounds like bragging, but it’s not my point), but from having had to work through some painful times on the home front. I think I have 30 good years of writing ahead of me, and I’m not about to stop now. I’m just learning, just growing, just figuring out who I am.
Don’t let anyone tell you that there’s a bad time to start writing. The act of writing is a form of self-discovery in itself. I learn every time I fall in love with my hero, or overcome some insecurity as my heroine. I heal my familial relationships every time my characters talk about their own families. I reaffirm my faith through quirky tales of angels and demons, as in Key West Magic, reaffirm my intellectual interests when I write of archaeology or history, as in my Mayan Nights series.
I’ve learned through a lot of trials and tribulations. When I get a bad review or a rejection (not often—that is bragging, I admit), even after just a few years at it, I’m better able to shrug it off. It’s a good lesson, trust me. No one ever got locked up (to my knowledge) for getting a bad review. Nor for letting the house stay a mess, or burning the dinner. It’s never too late to learn how to toughen up, how to celebrate success, how to write for the simple joy of it. That’s it—I write for the joy of it, no matter the outcome. I’ve earned that. I’m fifty, a late bloomer, and damned proud of it.