Writing is for Life

On days when I wonder if my works in progress are actually progressing or moribund, I cheer myself by singing a happy tune and rejoicing in the success of others who came to the writing table later in life.

And the passion and enthusiasm for writing that  keeps authors writing into their eighties, nineties and beyond, also seems to contribute to success.

 Self publishing at 97
Star contender this week has to be Nora Percival, self-publishing for Kindle at the age of 97, with help from author Scott Nicholson.

A retired editor, she was 88 when her first book, Weather of the Heart, was published to critical acclaim. The painstakingly researched memoir documents her family’s life in Russia where they lived through civil war and famine. Her father fled the Russian Revolution to safety in America but not until 1922 was he reunited with Nora and her mother in New York.

The sequel Silver Pages of the Lawn is the romance of her love story with her first husband, poet Herman Gund,
told through their letters.
Three of her books are already available on  Amazon.

Editorial Memoirs

British literary editor Diana Athill retired in 1993 aged 75, after which she produced five books of memoirs, one of which, Somewhere Towards the End, won the Costa Award in 2009.

She worked with publisher André Deutsch and his authors including Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, John Updike and Mordecai Richler to name only a few.

Last year, aged 93, she appeared in the BBC documentary Growing Old Disgracefully. This year saw the publication of another book of short stories, Midsummer Night in the Workhouse.

If you haven’t anything to say...

One of my favourite authors, Mary Wesley was 70 when her adult novels were first published . Her books sold three million copies and included ten best sellers before she stopped writing fiction aged 84.

“If you haven’t anything to say,” she supposedly said, “don’t say it.”

I doubt if that thought ever crossed the mind of British author Barbara Cartland, the Queen of Romance. She wrote 723 romantic novels and totalled an estimated one billion sales in 36 languages. Famous for her spiky eyelashes and her love of wearing pink, she featured in the Guiness Book of Records as the world’s most prolific writer.

She lived to within weeks of her hundredth birthday, “still scribbling” according to a friend, and her books carry on selling in many parts of the world today. Whatever you think of her writing, the sheer ability to produce a book a fortnight, even by dictation to a secretary, is an amazing feat.

World’s Oldest Blogger

A review of the golden authors past and present of the publishing world would not be complete without a mention of the world’s oldest blogger Bernando LaPallo from Arizona. Now 110, his latest blog post was published on his birthday in August. He is author of Age Less and Live More and is reported to be working on his second book.

Secrets of Success

All these authors have taken publicity in their stride and played to their unique strengths. The initial marketing blurb may have promoted them on account of the late blossoming of their careers, but they also worked hard at connecting with their readers be it through public appearances, radio and television appearances, blogging and/or belonging to social networking sites.

Of course not all of us can have the advantages of Barbara Cartland who also happened to be the mother of Princess Diana's stepmother.

But we can pay heed to the best lesson of all.
Never Give Up.
 Read the article that inspired this post:

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Anne Duguid is a senior content editor at MuseItUp Publishing. She blogs at Slow and Steady Writers and at the moment is passionate about creating a new Joomla! website. The WIP? A romantic suspense series.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I love this topic. I gave up writing for a host of reasons and came back to it around 60. It indeed is for life. It was making a difference in my life even those years I wasn't writing. I've had many careers--and all have helped me with the writing and promoting of books that I'm doing now. Having said that, it's writing that brings me the most joy. And, I have to say it's becoming quite clear that writing can easily bring me joy right up to the end. It's just made that way. (-:

Magdalena Ball said...

I agree with everything you written Anne. It might be said that there's an act of extreme optimism in starting at novel so late in life or blogging when you're over 100, but not only is it never too late, but as a person 'of experience' an older writer often has seen and lived though much history, and sharing that bcomes a gift to those who are younger. It is one of life's sad paradoxes that we often only seek to know our family's history when those who could tell it to us are gone, so sharing that wisdom is critically important.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

I so agree Ann. If you have a passion is ageless.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Posting late at night drops words...I meant to say If you have a passion it is ageless.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

I am so glad this topic has struck a chord and attracted even more inspirational comments.

Thanks for sharing the passion that keeps you forever young,Carolyn.

And, Maggie, how I love the phrase extreme optimism. I shall cherish the joy of that in my heart. As someone who missed out on so much local history I would now love to know, I am sadly aware of the importance of family memoirs.

LOL Mary Jo. And sharing that passion in books and blogging keeps writers ageless forever.

I only realized too late what a good Thanksgiving topic it is--how many reasons we have to give thanks to indomitable older writers and to give thanks too for our sharing in that gift.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. :-)

Karen Cioffi said...

Wow, what an inspirational post. I thought I started late in my 50s.

I agree with Maggie about trying to delve into family history after those who can tell it are gone. This is a situation I find myself in now, not having the need while my grandparents and parents were alive and well.

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

Heidiwriter said...

Wow! Incredible and inspirational! Just wonderful. I have an editing client who is 90 and we are working to publish her memoirs of being a woman engineer on the Alaska Arctic road project. Keep on writing!!

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Isn't it lovely Karen. Just what I thought--woohoo someone older than me LOL

Great news Heidi. Please let us know when the memoirs are out. Yep, as you say,

Keep writing!

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