You’re Never Too Old to Start Again (or Too Young to Start)

There was a man I knew years ago, whom I only met once when he was 93 years old, totally blind and partially deaf. His name was Father Morgan, and he showed me that you’re never too old to start again and never to young to start.

Father Morgan was a renowned Episcopal priest and a brilliant botanist whose flora & fauna facts were featured in Encyclopedia Brittanica. At retirement age, he retired in Cherokee country, high up in the mountains of North Georgia. While he moved there to settle, community members encouraged him to start a church. So, at the ripe age of 65, he and one other man built a new church from the ground up. He started a whole new life at a time when most are winding down, and this wasn’t the only time he did that.

He looked like Moses with long, flowing gray hair. He didn’t care what people thought of him, just worked hard and never complained. One Sunday he arrived for his sermon without having any time to prepare. His nephew shared the morning service with him, from the liturgy with comments, scripture, sermon, and all of the readings in between. Remember, he was blind, so he couldn’t read anything at that point, and also at least half deaf. He just listened to his nephew, took it in, and did the best he could.

Well, wouldn’t you know…Father Morgan got out in front of the congregation and gave the entire service from his nephew’s verbal recital––every word, all by memory, without a hitch, at the ripe age of 93!

If this wasn’t incredible enough, we found out after the service that the night before, Father Morgan lost everything in a house fire. The home he lost was two generations old and housed every book and paper owned by him and generations before him––all of his sermons, all of his data on flora & fauna…everything.

He never mentioned a word about the fire to anyone during or after that sermon. When asked by his nephew what he wanted him to do about the house, he said, “Call the contractor and tell him we need him to start rebuilding tomorrow.”

Father Morgan was a true American hero. He quietly went about his life with humility, a remarkable work ethic, unending persistence, and the ability to rebuild his life no matter what challenges befell him. At an age when most are waiting to die, Father Morgan started anew, over and over.

What do you want to start, but tell yourself you’re too old (or young) to do it?

I say, do it!

-Gy

Just Write the Book Already

Imagining a first bestseller is easy––the sales, interviews on national television, the Pulitzer Prize, the big parties and book signings…but what about actually writing the book?

For me, it takes tremendous discipline, consistency, and commitment just to get the words out, never mind creativity and at least a smidgen of talent. I knew going into my first novel that it wouldn’t be easy, as I’d had many years’ experience writing for theater and television where rewrites and late nights were the norms. Sure, screenwriting was tough work, but I loved the challenge. Hard work didn’t scare me then nor does it now.

Writing novels comes with a different set of demands than screenwriting. For one, there’s not a team of writers to collaborate with, as I write alone. The group effort and tight deadlines meant that others counted on me. But writing a book, well, I could just walk past my office for days, never write a thing, and no one would know…except me.

When there’s a problem with a specific scene and I’m stuck, the onus is on me to get out of a creative jam. At times, I will sit and work on it for hours and other times I will walk away for a little while. And the rewrites are tough. My second novel Fugue required four drafts, each one with substantial editing. Tedious work. But let me tell you, the freedom in book writing – particularly fiction – is boundless. If you want to create a one million-man army, go ahead. There’s no budget that chokes your creativity, no one saying that it won’t work in the frame or on the stage.

But all good writing, no matter how liberating, has to be edited or you may as well not do it at all. And the excitement of finishing a book is like no other creative experience I’ve encountered. After seemingly countless drafts, deep dive edits, proofreading, and a few trusted sets of eyes to review it, that manuscript is all your doing. It’s a major achievement no matter what follows, even if you don’t win the Pulitzer this time around.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…” Well, I must agree. Writing a book is painful and challenging, but boy, is it worth it.
Do you like to write?

–Gy Waldron
Author of Twist of Time, Fugue, and a third novel on the way