'How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.’

January 8, 2019

So said Henry David Thoreau in a vote of confidence for the person who starts writing a bit later in life. I didn't get published until I was 60; is that late? Canadian author and speaker, Malcolm Gladwell, makes the distinction between late starters and late bloomers and points to many artists who take their time to find expression. It's an area that the literary website Bloom celebrates. Devoted to highlighting, profiling, reviewing, and interviewing authors whose first major work was published when they were age 40 or older, its members believe “late” is a relative term, not an absolute one. 'Late' according to whom? it asks. The piece I wrote (20 December 2018) 'Time for Something Else' talks about what inspired me to write The Huntingfield Paintress. It was witnessing the determination of Mildred Holland who lay on her back for six years when she was almost 50 to paint an angel ceiling.

Many people dream of writing when they're older but are put off perhaps by what they perceive to be the focus of publishing on bright young things. Or they lack the confidence to begin having picked up somewhere along the line that they won't be able to do it.  Christopher Bland, a former chairman of the BBC board of governors, London Weekend Television and the Royal Shakespeare Company said he found it tough to turn from a 'cocktail party novelist' into one with words the page but he did it with Ashes in the Wind, published in 2014.  His legacy is the £10,000 Christopher Bland Prize to encourage and celebrate older writers. It was be awarded annually to a writer of fiction or non-fiction, first published at the age of 50 or over in 2018.

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