Friday, September 19, 2008

Age is Just a Number, cont.

Speaking of late-blooming writers, I wish you could meet Velma, a vibrant 89-year old woman who came up to me after a speech I gave last night at an event sponsored by the American Assoc. of University Women. She looked me square in the eye and said with great spirit, "You've inspired me to go home and finish writing my book!" What I don't think she realized is that she inspired me as well.


  1. Prill, remember how when we were 30, we certain negative thoughts entered our minds. Things like the idea that we were too old to go back to school. When I was in my late 50s, I had cancer. In my search for healing I read a book by Deppak Chopra. I wasn't all that thrilled with--little new there, for me at least. But he DID say that people in Roman times died on the average at 42 and that if we lived today to be 60, by Roman standards, we may very well have a lifetime ahead of us. And, I though, we wouldn't have to spend the first 20 learning the ways of the world and to read and write. Suddenly I didn't feel all that old, even with cancer hounding at me. That's when I turned back to writing, something I'd given up years before when I was making excuses, those too old excuses.
    Obviously, life wasn't over for me. Cancer was just a beginning. Since then I've written not only my novel but taken up poetry and a series of books for writers. Mostly, I am more joyful than I ever was when I was young.

    So, hooray for age 89 or any other. It's never too early or too late for anything you want to do. (-:

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Author of This Is the Place, Harkening, Tracings and the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers

  2. Anonymous2:28 PM

    As always, Carolyn and inspire me.


  3. This is simply AWESOME! How very cool. It really never is too late... and the fact you inspired her and she inspired you just means you were destined to meet.
    LOVE that stuff!

  4. I love hearing from all you! Thanks, Allyn and Barbara. Carolyn, I do indeed remember being 30 and worrying that I was too old to go back to school. Then when I was 38, bachelor's and master's degrees in hand (both in literature), I decided against continuing on to get a Ph.D. I had a number of reasons for making this decision, but the one which seems silliest now is that I truly believed that no first-rate university would ever hire a 45-year old first-timer to teach, which is how old I figured I'd be when I finished my dissertation. Then I met Patricia Symonds, who earned a doctorate in anthropology in her late 50's. She never worried about getting hired; she just followed her passion. At 60 she was hired by Brown University to teach. She's been there now for over a decade. After hearing her story, I vowed never to second-guess myself again. (I have, of course, second-guessed myself since; but I do it a lot less often.)