I’ve been writing for over twenty years. Half of that time as a screenwriter, which I failed at. Then the other half as a blogger. After blogging for nearly ten years, I landed my first book deal at the ripe old age of 40. It was a very small deal with a boutique publisher. The book came and went. It didn’t do as well as I hoped for. I was back to square one. Books are like movies. If your first book doesn’t do well, that’s pretty much it. They won’t keep publishing you. I figured that was the end of my journey as a published author.
Then last year, Amanda, our head of marketing at our startup JRNI, encouraged me to send out blind query letters to book agents. I said “H*ll no”. I know what the chances are of getting a response from a query letter. Slim to none and slim just left town. Screenwriters query agents all the time and get rejected like 98 percent. Been there, done that. I’m too old for that sh*t.
Then I heard a podcast Q&A with a big-time literary agent from New York. I was so impressed by her. She was smart and savvy with hustle and a no BS attitude, a classic old-school New York lit agent who’s been in the game for over thirty years. She mentioned on the podcast that she can count on one hand how many clients she has actually taken on from an unsolicited query letter in her career. So basically, don’t query me. But there was something about her. I wanted this person to be my agent. So I said “f*ck it” and decided to send her a query along with some others I randomly Googled online. I figured if I’m going to do it, I might as well do a sweep.
Guess what? She responded. Then everything happened really fast. I don’t remember much. But we must have worked on a book proposal because she went out with my new book idea and you can’t go to publishers without a book proposal. I just don’t remember writing one. Weird. Anyway, a lot of other slim to none and slim left town things happened. I guess you can call them miracles or destiny or luck. Up to you. But I’ll get to the point. She landed me a new and bigger book deal with one of the major publishing houses. My second book, titled “I Used to be a Miserable F*ck, an everyman’s guide to a meaningful life”, is out now.
Here’s the punchline. Because I decided not to quit, and yes I needed some encouragement as well as a few pouty days to myself, I now have a second chance as an author and feel like my writing career is just beginning. I have a new burst of energy and a sh*t ton of ideas. I went from thinking I was done to wanting to publish books until I die. Or until I no longer have anything else to say. Most likely the first.
All this to say what?
You are never too old.
Because you never know when the grab is going to come when opportunity will knock, when stars will line up, when someone from New York will open your email.
So you have to keep doing what you love, what moves you, what lights you up. But without a ticking clock or finish line. Because time is different for everyone and there is no finish line. You just keep doing you no matter what age you are. Or how many times you’ve “failed.” Success is not linear. It has dimensions. That means going from point A to point B is not a straight line. It’s a squirrely loop that dips under and over and sideways, again and again.
Life is about the long game.
Vera Wang didn’t design her first dress until she was 40.
Julia Child didn’t start cooking until she was 50.
Colonel Sanders started KFC at 65.
I don’t know what your dreams are or what you’re passionate about. But whatever you want to do, know that it’s never too late. There’s no such thing as too old for something. You either do what you love because it’s honest to you or you don’t and be miserable. It’s that simple.
There is no window.
This post was originally published here and is republished with permission from the author.
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