As someone who graduated from Harvard when I was 20, I once feared the best was in the past...but no longer. Let me tell you why:
I’ve heard if you don’t publish by 30, you won’t make it...as someone who’s barely clinging to what’s left of my twenties, statements like these strike fear in my heart.
In 2009 I went to the Literary Writers Conference in NYC - my first conference. The panel that inspired me the most was Anatomy of a First Novel with Eugenia Kim, who talked about her debut The Calligrapher's Daughter.
I came up to her afterward and told her what an inspiration she was to me as a debut author who is NOT 20 years old.
Sophia the Fangirl: Everyone I went to Harvard with is already published, and I'm almost 30.
And you know what happened?
Sara Nelson, the books editor for O Magazine and former editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly, who had been moderating the panel, jumped in and said to me:
They've peaked already!
I didn't publish until I was over *NOT 20*
(age redacted for privacy)
Ms. Nelson's quip was possibly the most encouraging thing I could hear at the beginning of my fiction career. From that moment on, I didn't give one more thought to my classmates who took a different path than I. They got MFAs and moved in with their parents/worked at their parents' companies until they made it.
I went to Hollywood with ZERO contacts and made a living as a film and TV actor - and hey, I had several plays and solo shows produced on both coasts. So technically, I did work as a creative writer fresh out of college.
So pish posh to anyone who thinks us geezers have no chance. :)
I'll leave you with my favorite quote from Cindy Lauper on an episode of Celebrity Apprentice. She said to a burgeoning country singer:
Nothing really happened for me until after 30.We got plenty of time, baby.