This post isn’t about writing books, but it is about writing—a couple different kinds of writing, in fact.
That said, it has less to do with writing than it does with our willingness to adapt and change and never being afraid to chase our dreams.
When I was thirteen, I read my first “adult” book, which was serialized in a magazine, called SOMEBODY OWES ME MONEY by Donald Westlake. Reading that book, a comedy murder mystery about a cab driver named Chet who simply wants to collect his nine hundred dollar bet, only to find his bookie stabbed to death, was a revelation to me. And I can say with certainty that it is the reason I became a novelist.
But I wasn’t always a novelist. In fact, I didn’t even start writing my real first novel until I was in my late forties (a considerable distance from thirteen), although I had written and published a handful of short stories. Before that, I was a screenwriter, and not a particularly successful one at that. I won the Nicholl award with my first script and turned around and sold it to Showtime shortly thereafter, but it was the first and last movie script I sold and I wound up writing for animated shows like Spider-Man Unlimited.
All of that started when I was well into adulthood, at the age of thirty-five. Before that I had been struggling to make it as a musician, first as a performer—I suffered too much from stage fright to make that happen—and then as a songwriter. I came very close to selling a few songs, was often praised for my music, but never was able to quite get over the hump. And then I felt I was too old to make it in the biz, so I fell back on my second love, writing, and wrote that first script I mentioned above.
I’m now approaching sixy-one, and can happily say that I’ve become a semi-successful novelist who has made some decent money and even seen one of his books make it to the small screen. I’ve talked about that before, I’m sure, so I won’t bore you with it now.
But at nearly sixty-one, despite my “success,” I’ve found myself feeling unfulfilled by only writing novels, and the lifelong musician (and screenwriter) in me has been yearning to do something different. Something I’ve never done before, but have been thinking about for many, many years.
So for the past several months I’ve chased an old dream. What, you might ask is that?
I’ve written a musical.
Yes, that’s right. It’s an “intimate” musical called Cradle Song, centering around a fractured family that desperately needs to heal.
And I went crazy and not only wrote the “book” (play script), but also the music and lyrics for the thing.
I’m told that this isn’t often done by one person, but, hey, I’m always up for a challenge. So I did it and it’s done and I can go to my grave knowing that I have fulfilled at least part of a dream. The other part, of course, would be seeing the play get produced. But that’s pretty much out of my hands.
So why am I telling you this, you ask?
All of this rambling is merely my way of saying that no matter how old you are, you should never deny yourself of the chance to fulfill a dream. To turn in a different direction and fly.
And if you want to be a writer (or a singer or a painter or a fill-in-the-blank) at eighty-seven but have never gotten around to doing it, don’t for godsakes let your age stop you. Don’t let anything stop you.
The world is full of people who love to tell us no. “You can’t do that. You’re too old. Too young. Too white. Too black. Too fat. Too thin. Too female. Too…” whatever.
Don’t listen to them. If you have a passion, follow it. And don’t worry about the naysayers and the rules. Just do it, as they say in the TV commercial.
Nothing and no one can stop you if you let your passion be your guide.
If anyone is interested in what I’ve been doing to fulfill my passion for the last few months, check out http://cradlesongmusical.com. And, of course, if any of you are play producers, feel free to use the contact page… 😉
Question: what dream would you like to fulfill that you haven’t yet chased after?