My writing instructor Julie Tallard Johnson said, “Better late than never — better to finish my novel by age 60 than not at all.”
We cannot come late to this table of writers. Our whole life has prepared us. Compare a memoir at 20 and at 70 years of age. One cannot be late to a novel, a poem or an essay – it has been rising in the warm kitchen with the yeast of days intensely lived.
Certainly, we can miss deadlines, miss opportunities, miss six-figure book advances, and start a career on the late-side. Even so, it was not as if we were sitting in a lawn chair all that time. Mothers died, spouses deserted, children needed raising, employers cracked a whip. All of them cooperated to provide fodder for the memoir. A nation full of women past 50 starting novels, paintings or memoirs is simply another comment on the feminism of our times. Women’s voices continue to be thin or missing from stand-up comedy, movie director credits, and playwright award ceremonies. Reams of unpublished material languish in desk drawers. Voices we have never heard are calling to us from places we’ve never been or imagined. Poetry fragments and song lyrics sizzle in our heads as we wash dishes or draw water from the well.
There is a narrow band of time, between our 50th and 100th years, to write and to speak out. We are not late. We have timed it perfectly.