I turn fifty at the end of the week; and still I have no collection of my published work. Nor am I in any anthology, any other collection of writings. Other than where they were originally published, I have no works anywhere in the world.
Michelle Kodis once said, “Comparison is the root of all unhappiness.” So perhaps I ought not unfurl the litany of fellow writers who, back in their whippersnapper thirties and twenties, were miles ahead of where I currently am. Perhaps I should take heart, instead, with folks like John Irving, Mary Oliver, and others who continue producing phenomenal work while significantly settled in “retirement age.” Writing is something I’ll be able to do for a long way on down the road. Something that will still be paying me, not requiring my living off of savings and Social Security.
But it’s not so much the financials that have me in a twist, due to my late start. It’s that feeling of insecurity due to being behind my fellows. The sense of impossibility in catching up. Of forever being too far behind.
But, also, it’s not as though I haven’t been writing for the last twenty years. That I’ve been away from my craft, playing tiddlywinks, instead. Being able to write well is a separate issue from being published. (And, likewise, to be sure, being published doesn’t mean you write well!)
Some things bear repeating; so let me say it again: “Comparison is the root of all unhappiness.” Perhaps comparing myself with others is a way of negating myself. So what if I’ll be in my fifties—or maybe even older—when I am finally published? That can also mean, among other things, that I’ll bring more to the table when published. More experience, more insight, more wisdom, more compassion, more empathy, more assuredness, more confidence. It is with these attributes that I’ll catch up with my fellows. Perhaps maybe not ever in quantity, but in quality, where it truly matters.