I just took up writing six years ago at the age of 62 and am rather disappointed, but not about the sort of things writers are supposed to be disappointed about. Fame and fortune have eluded me so far, but then I wasn’t expecting them. No, it’s the suffering of the writer that I feel I’m missing out on. All alone in his crummy room, sitting in front of his typewriter (it’s always a typewriter, a word processor just wouldn’t be romantic enough). There’s a sheet of paper in the typewriter that has a single sentence fragment on it, usually something along the lines of- “She came into his life like….” Or “When I was six years old my parents….” Or “In high school I was an outcast, no one understood me…” Next to the struggling writer’s desk is a waste basket o’erflowing with wadded up balls of typing paper. On his desk the half empty bottle of Scotch needed to properly lubricate his muse. This struggling goes on for way too long a time and then he becomes rich and famous so that he can treat old friends, small children and wives execrably, behave like a horse’s ass in public, revile the Hollywood Movies made out of his books, and complete his real life’s work which is drinking himself to death.
And to think I missed out on all that just by starting my writing career too late. All my struggling was over before I started and it wasn’t high class literary struggling, just the normal garden variety kind like how to pay the mortgage and how to keep the kids fed and how to find a new job after getting fired from the last one or finding the company offices closed when I showed up for work. By the time I started writing I had so many stories in my head that I’ve never experienced the dreaded ‘writer’s block’. I already know that my writing is pretty good so I don’t have to worry about that, nor do I have to worry about it being so good that I might be another Hemingway. My highest goal at present is to be the Grandpa Moses of literature but I won’t be disappointed if I don’t make it. I just love to write, and to see myself in print, even if it’s self-published print, and to have at least a few people read my stuff and say that they like it. As for the booze, I don’t need it to get in touch with my muse, though I do enjoy a few glasses of red wine after a writing session. I highly recommend Bota Box’s Red Revolution as a writerly quaff at a reasonable price. So I guess I’ll just have to keep writing, and not suffering, somebody has to do it.
M H Burton is the author of Tales of Ramasun: US Spooks and Spies in Thailand During the Vietnam War and the six golfing detective novels of the Zach Roper and the Thai Princess series and an illustrated children’s book called The Bangkok Cat and some other stuff that can be found either on Amazon or at www.mhburtonbooks.com.
I also started writing in my sixties. Published my first, Connections, last year. My second, Aberration, is due this summer. No suffering, wel, not much.