Back in August, as we watched the Olympics, with all those video clips of the athletes when they were small (tiny Missy Franklin! darling little gymnasts!), my son, who is nine, turned to me and said, “Mom, is it too late for me?”
He’d realized the dedication it takes to become an Olympian–and also how early you have to start to realize that dream.
Also in August, I ran a half marathon (13.1 miles) with my brother, my sister, and my husband (and also my sister’s cute roommate). My husband and I used to run half and full marathons together before we were married and we thought that signing up for this race was a great idea. We’d hire a babysitter and go running together this summer for dates! We’d train properly and have a great time!
Well, this summer was, to put it frankly, chaos. We both had work deadlines, work travel (Portland, New York, Los Angeles for me, Cambridge, MA, and the annual working trip to England for him), church stuff, and of course all the wonderful and crazy summer things that having a house full of four kids entails (swimming lessons, soccer, etc.). We both kept running, but we didn’t train as far or as much as we should have. While we were reasonably pleased with our times (we ran 8:06/mile for the race), we both were pretty stiff afterwards and knew we could have been faster and recovered more quickly had we properly prepared.
As an amateur athlete, you can kind of do this (although I realize that we are begging for sports injuries). This kind of thing doesn’t fly for the pros. To get really, really good at something you have to put in the time and the workouts.
I know this about writing. I put in the time, (just about) every day except Sundays, and I have for almost a decade now. I know that if I don’t put in the time, I won’t be able to write well. (And please know that I realize that “putting in the time” looks different for each author; when I give specifics about what I do, I am just acknowledging what I have to do to get it right.) I have been writing since I was four, but putting in hours and hours every day the way the Olympians did? Not so much, not until the past 10 years.
But the really nice thing about writing is that it is almost never too late, if you’re willing to put in a lot of work. You can start at 10, you can start at 20, or 30, or 50.
So if you’re feeling like it might be too late, it’s not. Like any worthwhile endeavor, it will be a LOT of work, but there’s no expiration date on writers. Look at Agatha Christie, Lois Lowry, P.D. James. The only way it’s too late is if you don’t do it at all.
Back to work for me now…how about you?
P.S. An interview with me over at Design Mom posted yesterday, in which I answer a lot of questions about being a mom and creativity. Check it out!
P.P.S. There is less than a month left until REACHED is released! EEEEEEEK!!!