Better Late Than Never


An article in the Oct. 2014 Writer’s Digest caught my attention.  It was titled, “The Late Novel” and it set about to prove, by a healthy list of famous authors, that it’s never too late to write your first novel.

Since I’m not the youngest debut author on the block, I found great comfort and encouragement in this article, and for those of you who might be in my same “autumn” boat, I hope you will be encouraged, too.

Here is a thumbnail sketch of some of the late bloomers, and it includes authors of both adult and young adult fiction:

  1. Laura Ingalls Wilder was in her mid-60’s when the first Little House book was published
  2. William S. Burroughs and George Eliot were 40 at the time of their debuts.
  3. Jacqueline Susann wrote Valley of the Dolls while recovering from a mastectomy when she was 44.
  4. Bram Stoker, an Irishman who worked as an assistant to British stage star Henry Irving, wrote his first novel, The Snake’s Pass, when he was in his mid-40s but seven years later, in 1897, he made his name with Dracula.
  5. In his mid-40s Ian Fleming, a U.K. naval intelligence officer, wrote Casino Royale, the first in the series of James Bond stories.
  6. After a successful career writing for Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan magazines, Judith Krantz wrote the 1978 bestseller, Scruples, in her late 40s.
  7. In 1937 a certain philologist named J.R.R. Tolkien had this thought:  “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit….” and it resulted in his epic that was published when he was 45.

So, fellow late-blooming authors, take heart and keep on following that dream. There is no reason under the sun why your name shouldn’t be added to the above list.  Write the best story you can write.  To quote Hemingway:   “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

I would love to add to this list if you know of any other late-in-life author success stories!  Or, maybe you are currently working on that first book while being sorely aware of the ticking clock.  Does this list help ease your angst?


Hey READERS, I would love to hear from you.

Is your MIND FULL of old thoughts or new?



Better Late Than Never — 9 Comments

  1. Linda,
    Well, if you’re a late bloomer than I must be an Ancient one! Ha!

    We often hear that agents won’t pick up an older author because they want to develop a long-term relationship with them and fear older means gone sooner, which we know isn’t the case.

    I choose to believe that if I create a really good story, that story will shine above all other considerations.

    If we, as writers, listened to all the nay-sayers, we’d never get published.

    So write the story you have to tell and never give up until…well….you know.

    S 🙂

  2. Hi Sandra,

    Thanks for these comments, and yes, it always goes back to writing the best story you have in you, and not getting bogged down by inconsequential stuff like age!!

    And I’m living proof that at least one agent didn’t bother to inquire about my age before taking me on!

  3. Love this list, Linda. I was in my late 40s when my first book (a picture book) was published. It’s been a fun ride. Congratulations to you and all our fellow late bloomers!

  4. Oh, and here’s another late bloomer for your list, Linda. Just recently, I fell in love with a memoir, “The Invisible Wall” written by Harry Bernstein in his NINETIES, after his beloved wife of 70 years died. He not only lived to see the first book published, he wrote 2 sequels that he also lived to see in print. I enjoyed the first book so much that I ordered the other two as Christmas gifts to myself. He died in 2011 at the age of 101. Truly an inspiration.

  5. Hi Kim,

    Thanks so much for both your comments! I’m so glad to meet another “late bloomer” and I also appreciate your mentioning Harry Bernstein, whose work sounds lovely. All the best to you in your future work!

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