It's Never Too Late by Ciar Cullen

I’m a late bloomer. Well, not in all respects. I spoke in complete sentences before I could walk, according to Mom. She likes to add that I haven’t shut up since. But as an adult, I “became myself” a little late. Perhaps the fact that I never had children has allowed me to experiment more than other women my age. It’s been a sadness and a luxury, no doubt.  

I started martial arts when I was 39, obtained my second degree black belt at 48. Around the same time I started writing, on a whim. I was never, ever a person who said “I’ve always wanted to write.” I was in publishing for many years, and I saw what a tough business it is. I always wanted my own publishing company, but thank God I had the sense to know what a smart business person one needs to be to do so (or I’d probably be in court with a bankrupt epublishing business right about now).  

No, it was a whim. I’d spent a lifetime reading fantasy, suspense, the classics, and romance—actually devoting myself to different genres for years at a time. I’d lived on the road for many years as an archaeologist, in Greece, Turkey, and England. You might think that archaeology is a romantic business. It’s hard work, much of it very mundane, but I believe one needs to be a romantic in the broadest sense of the word to enter that field. 

My writing was born of a romantic crush on Legolas. There, I said it. I wrote when the Lord of the Rings epic films were all consuming. I had a dream of a man sweeping a woman onto his horse (the logistics of that is pretty silly, really), and decided to write about it. That ended up as the first chapter of The Princes of Anfall, my first published book (now re-released through Samhain). The words kept coming, the stories kept flowing, and before I knew it, I was sitting at the Mall, signing two books and wondering how I got there. I didn’t really want to write, did I? I was just penning my quirky dreams.  

I hear that agents and big publishing houses want young writers, those with long careers ahead of them. I’m only fifty, and while that may seem ancient to some of you, it’s not. Sure, I have more medical specialists and prescriptions than the average 30 year old, but I also have something else going on. I’ve seen a lot. Good relationships and bad, with enough distance from them to know the true difference. Romance, love, and lust, not in equal measure. Perspective on family dynamics that comes not only from having a psych degree as well as an archaeology degree (ugh, that sounds like bragging, but it’s not my point), but from having had to work through some painful times on the home front. I think I have 30 good years of writing ahead of me, and I’m not about to stop now. I’m just learning, just growing, just figuring out who I am.  

Don’t let anyone tell you that there’s a bad time to start writing. The act of writing is a form of self-discovery in itself. I learn every time I fall in love with my hero, or overcome some insecurity as my heroine. I heal my familial relationships every time my characters talk about their own families. I reaffirm my faith through quirky tales of angels and demons, as in Key West Magic, reaffirm my intellectual interests when I write of archaeology or history, as in my Mayan Nights series.  

I’ve learned through a lot of trials and tribulations. When I get a bad review or a rejection (not often—that is bragging, I admit), even after just a few years at it, I’m better able to shrug it off. It’s a good lesson, trust me. No one ever got locked up (to my knowledge) for getting a bad review. Nor for letting the house stay a mess, or burning the dinner. It’s never too late to learn how to toughen up, how to celebrate success, how to write for the simple joy of it. That’s it—I write for the joy of it, no matter the outcome. I’ve earned that. I’m fifty, a late bloomer, and damned proud of it. 

I hope you’ll visit me at http://ciarcullen.blogspot.com and http://www.ciarcullen.com.

17 Responses to It's Never Too Late by Ciar Cullen

  1. Terry Odell

    I hear you. Not only that, we seem to have followed similar paths. I’ve only been writing for a relatively short time–about 5 years or so. It was never my dream to become a writer, but once I started, something I found I loved to do. And I’ll ‘out’ myself by saying it started because of the Highlander television series — Adrian Paul is definitely easy on the eyes, and I learned much about the craft writing fan fiction.

    I’ve got 5 full-length books under contract now plus a bunch of short stories. (And I’ve got a few years on you–more than a few, actually, but I think that all my life experiences add depth to my writing.)

    I just returned from a month in South Africa where I’ve picked up some great ideas for characters in my next books.

    Terry

  2. Ciar Cullen

    Cool beans, Terry. We’re similar also in that “place” calls to me as much as anything! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Robin Snodgrass

    Ciar, that is an awesome blog post! It’s nice to know that not all successful writers began when they were in their 20s (or earlier if you want to consider the young man who wrote ERAGON). I don’t know whether I’ll ever be a published author but I do enjoy writing a bit. I’m 43 and still learning something new all the time.

    I think your experience simply enhances and enriches your writing!

    Keep up the great writing!

    -Robin

  4. Seeley deBorn

    I’ll be starting university next year. And I’m 34. It’s never too late for anything.

    You kick @$$ Ciar. I love your honesty and utter irreverance. Oh, and your books.

    🙂

  5. Ann Cory

    Hey Ciar – great post sweets! I’m 35 and feel I’m just starting to live life. Heck, hubby and I just moved into our first house – so yep, I’m doing it all late – and I don’t mind at all. I feel it’s the years of experiences that come through a writer’s voice – all the wisdom, trials, and tribulations. Sure I’d love to wish away all those tough years when I thought for sure things could never get better, but it’s those very years that have helped me learn who I am.

    Here’s to decades more of writing! (and decades more of reading your books)

    ~Ann fan

  6. Ciar Cullen

    Hey, thanks guys! Now I didn’t mean to insinuate that there’s anything wrong with being young or that you don’t know your you-know-what from your you-know-what. Just sayin. :o)

  7. anny cook

    Hi, Ciar! Well, I beat you by a few. I wrote my first book at 56, received my first contract offer six days before my 57th birthday…and just celebrated my one year anniversary as a writer with my 8th book contract. Yay! I love being my age. I did the whole kids, grandkids thing, but now is my time.

    I agree with you that, uh-hem, older writers have the advantage of experience and maybe even wisdom to bring to their writing. Like many of your commenters, I went to school after the kids, graduated at 43. I think it’s wonderful that so many of us are willing to take that leap into something new and exciting.

    Congrats on your release! Keep on writing!

  8. catslady

    Oh I love your philosphy that it’s never too late. Things come at different times for different people. I’m not a writer but my husband and I waited 15 years before having our kids and there are some benefits to being “more mature” lol.

  9. Jean Marie Ward

    Isn’t it great that we can expect a complete second career, thirty years to retirement and everything! 😀 I always wanted to write, but I was like the barefoot cobbler, always too busy writing for someone else to do it for me. But now I can and it’s the most liberating thing imaginable.
    And yeah, I owe a big debt to fan fiction, specifically HIGHLANDER fan fic. But I was a Methos girl.
    Great blog.
    Cheers and grins,
    Jean Marie

  10. Laurie

    Aw, but you bloomed so beautifully! Proof that age is all in the mind! No one should let their age stand in the way of their dreams! You’re never too old to do anything – except wearing belly shirts and short skirts – fashion does have its limitations. lol

  11. Ciar Cullen

    You mean I have to give up the belly shirts? Lordie, can’t even fit into my fat jeans right now. Freaking thyroid.

    Jean Marie, I never heard the phrase barefoot cobbler before. It’s wonderful.

    Catslady, I envy your late parenthood and congratulate you! and Anny, well you know how I love you! You put me to shame.

  12. Jenyfer Matthews

    Great topic.

    I actually started writing in my mid-twenties, put it aside for a long time while worked, had kids and moved around A LOT! I’m in my mid-thirties now and feel like I have a lot more life experience from which to draw on for my stories. I can only imagine that continues as you go on and would consider that an asset to any writer.

  13. Terry Odell

    Popping back in — saw Jean Marie’s post. Methos was right up there, only a tad under Duncan. As a matter of fact, Randy in Finding Sarah began with hints of Methos. And What’s in a Name? actually has roots in one of my Highlander fanfic stories. Blake bears a rather striking resemblance to Duncah.

    I actually got into writing by ‘mistake’ — when my son mentioned he thought Highlander was a cool show, so I started watching it. Things snowballed from there.

    It’s NEVER too late.

  14. Eva S

    Thanks for your words, they really warmed my heart! It’s good to know when I’ll be 50 in a few months and many people say ” don’t you think you’re a little bit to old for this or that” (believe me, they are saying it already!) that at least I have many on my side: You’re NEVER too old for new things, it’s never too late!! Thanks.

    Keep writing wonderful books, I’ll never be too old for reading them!!

  15. Romance Junkies

    I am a young starter in lots of things such as getting married and starting a family. I will be early 40’s when they all graduate, but I am also looking forward to starting some things later in life and believe that it is never to late to learn and start something new 🙂

    Sorry I missed you on Friday Ciar, I took Friday and Monday to Christmas shop and do errands so I was away from my computer. Great blog!

    Kim

  16. Fedora

    Terrific blog, Ciar! Hooray for never being too old to learn or try something new! It’s inspiring to hear about women willing to strike out in a new direction whenever it is they’ve got the motivation–it gives us all courage to try, whether it’s writing, parenting, running, dancing, or something else. I’ll be looking for your books! And congrats to all of you fellow commenters who’re boldly trying new things! 🙂

  17. Vicente Brayton

    Sorry for the massive review, but I am actually loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the superb critiques another individuals have written, will allow you to decide if it is the best choice for you.

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