Do you have a creative dream, and wonder if it's too late to fulfill it?
IT'S NEVER TOO LATE.
Welcome to the Quiet Life — for kindred spirits drawn to quiet, depth, and beauty.
Today, let’s talk about why (and how) it’s never too late to fulfill your creative dreams.
Dear ham-dels (if you’re not sure why I’m addressing you this way, please read this),
Back when I was a lawyer, I was always thinking about Louis Begley.
Begley was an award-winning, best-selling novelist, and I loved his books.
But he wasn’t just any great author. The reason I thought of him all the time is that he was an attorney, like me. And, even more important: he didn’t publish his first novel ‘til he was 56.
His example helped me keep the faith, during all my years of being a lawyer who wished she was a writer.
Do you have a creative dream but wonder if, at age 25-95, it's too late to fulfill it?
IT'S NEVER TOO LATE.
Today, I’d like to share another story with you, this one from a member of our new Quiet Life community (shared with permission):
"I knew I had a poet’s heart but only started writing - and reading - poetry about 15 years ago, but I never thought of myself as a poet. I just wrote for myself, never thinking I would share it with anyone other than (maybe) my family. When the pandemic hit, I decided to use that time to put all of my poems together into a collection and self-publish it for my family. Once I had the manuscript complete, I went ahead and sent it out to a rare few poetry publishers who were still in business, were accepting unsolicited submissions, hadn’t gone completely online and whose publishing slates weren’t full for the next three years. Three weeks later, I was shocked to receive a book contract. And 18 months after that, at the ripe old age of 70 (!), I became a published poet. My debut collection, Cloud and Bone, was released in January, 2023. -@Dale Lombardi
See? That could be you. And Dale outdid Louis Begley - he was SEVENTY when he first published his poetry.
So: what’s YOUR creative dream? (Note that it doesn't have to involve outward validation - i.e., it doesn’t require a book deal, or something like that, to be valid.)
I posted Dale’s letter in the Quiet Life chat, earlier this week, and asked this question. The response was overwhelming. It turns out that a LOT of you have these dreams. We heard from would-be painters, poets, bookshop owners, animal rescuers, composers, etc. Some of you spoke of an amorphous but deeply felt sense of being an artist, with or without a medium - which didn’t surprise me a bit. I’ve long said that being an artist has nothing to do with paintbrushes and keyboards, and everything to do with a particular orientation to the world.
So, what prevents many of us from living outwardly what we feel inwardly?
In the chat, you mentioned many concerns. But here’s one that comes up again and again: many artists feel torn between wanting to connect, and wanting to hide. As Dale Lombardi put it, in his letter:
“I found myself feeling exposed, vulnerable, even shy, with the public nature of it all … the public readings, the book launch, etc. I found myself wanting to hide in the hallway rather than step into the well-lit room (both literally and metaphorically).
Believe me, I know this problem very, very well. I’m happiest when I’m sitting in a sunny cafe window, alone with my laptop, connecting with readers through the magic of the written word (which doesn’t require me to actually show up anywhere). All the public-facing stuff involved with being an author - I’ve learned to do it, sometimes to enjoy it - but it’s never natural, always a little stressful.
So here are my three best pieces of advice, on how to manage this paradox:
When you’re in creative mode, write/paint/create as if no one’s ever going to see what you’re doing. Alternatively, you could visualize one person, someone you know will love and benefit from your work.
At its very heart, the point of creation is to add something beautiful to the world. There’s a difference between making a creative living, vs. living a creative life. The latter is where you’ll find your true reward.
The point of creation is to EXPRESS something you feel to be deeply true, good, right, and beautiful. It’s the deep desire to ask others if they see what you see. So: just go ahead and do that. Express your deepest truth. When you feel the stress of will-I-get-a-record deal, or that naked feeling of public exposure, acknowledge the reality of these emotions; know that you’re not alone in feeling them; and then direct your attention right back to the desire to express your deepest knowledge, to bring to life the beauty that only you can see.
Oh and here’s a 4th one: I’d like to create a place for you all to share your creative work with each other, even if that work is still in preliminary form. That’s something we’ll figure out how to do, via the Quiet Life community - please stay tuned. (And if you have ideas of how best to do this, we’re all ears.)
In the meantime: a reminder that this Sunday is our first Candlelight AMA (Ask Me Anything), via Zoom, at 12 noon, ET/9 am Pacific/5 pm UK. If you can, please have a candle handy, but don't light it yet. We'll do that together. And please bring a journal, iPad, sketchbook, or whatever works best for your own reflections - because we’ll also do a thought exercise (in a decidedly non-groupy way).
We’ll send out a Zoom link an hour before the call, by email.
To join, or to watch later, if you can’t make it, you just need a paid subscription to the Quiet Life. (We put a ton of labor (of love) into this community!)
But we also want to make it available to all - no one should decline to participate for lack of funds. So, we have partial & full scholarships for anyone who needs, and have already given many. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also consider giving a subscription as a holiday gift:
Or simply share news of the Quiet Life, with friends and family:
And finally - I’d love to know what your creative dreams are! Please drop a comment below. Even if you’ve already participated in the chat on this topic, I’d love to know whether the above ideas are helpful, or anything else you’re thinking about.
And I’m so excited (and honestly a little nervous) to see many of you on Sunday,