Success Begins at Fifty
Here’s the thing, when I was nine years old I decided that I was going to be a writer. Little did I know it would take forty years, the literary equivalent of Moses wandering the desert, for that to come true. I was fifty years old when I “received the call” that my novel, The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow was going to be published by Abingdon Press. They were starting a brand new fiction line and yep, Agnes Sparrow was one of their debut novels. I was filled with an odd combo of feelings that swung from elation to relief to utter fear, and honestly--embarrassment. Finally, after all these years of trying I was going to see my dream come true.
Sure, I would have loved it if the dream had come true twenty years earlier. There’s something to be said for having physical energy and mental agility, but it didn’t. I was fifty years old when my career left the launching pad. It was a rocket (I hope) that kept getting delayed for one reason or another—usually my own fault. I struggled with that for a while but then I chose to embrace the notion that my success began at fifty, exactly when it was meant to begin. I’m okay with it now.
I don’t believe that the time spent in the wilderness was good for nothing. I graduated from high school—still with the dream in tact, found employment, went to college, got married, raised three children—I’m still raising my son—that’s right, he’s just twelve. He was another later-in-life success. I struggled through various degrees of financial hardships, medical traumas, near-death diseases, car accidents, teen years with my daughters, driving lessons, shoe-tying, toilet-training, marital separation, etc. etc. etc. But still in the back of my mind in the midst of all that life, I still knew that I knew that I knew that I was meant to write. I refused to give up, even though there were many times when I quit for a season, became so frustrated that I prayed for God to take the dream away from me and replace it with an undying fervor to work at a car wash. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It just sounded easier.) Emily Dickinson said that, “success is counted sweetest by those who n’er succeed.” I made that my theme song for a while, convincing myself that reaching for the stars was somehow better than grabbing hold of one. You see, pre-success holds more possibility than actual success.
So, what was going on in those forty years to prepare me for becoming a published author? Plenty. Tune in tomorrow for more. And let me know if success has come late to you. We can commiserate or celebrate together.