Friday, April 24, 2009

Late Bloomers

Of course, it’s all relative as to what constitutes a late bloomer. In the garden it can mean late spring, late in the season, or late in the year. Last week millions of people were introduced to the world’s most famous (at least right now) late bloomer – Susan Boyle, she of the viewed 35 million times Youtube/Britain’s Got Talent video. I accounted for four of those views myself, each time blubbering like a baby.

There were lots of reasons the video was such a phenomenon. Yes, she has angelic voice and yes, her appearance might suggest otherwise (although all she really needed was a Tweezerman and a little makeup.) And the television program she appeared on delights in embarrassing people and – for some reason I cannot fathom – people don’t mind making idiots of themselves on a global stage.

I prefer to think the reason for Susan’s success was at that the ripe old age of 47, she clung to her dream long enough to make it come true. And we got to watch. And maybe believe that some of our dreams might still come true. I don’t know anyone so cool (or so cold, really) who didn’t share in her triumph. Why should the precocious get all the attention - those scary little tykes with the oversized lungs who shriek into microphones and hope to be the next (lord help them) Miley Cyrus?

Or maybe I loved the video because I too am a late bloomer. I didn’t even start writing until I was past forty. By that time most successful writers have a few books under their belts, even if they’ve been toiling away in anonymity waiting for their breakout book to happen.

But that does not seem to be the case for mysteries. Hallelujah! Looking over the list of Agatha nominees for Best First Novel, none of us is anyone’s idea of a spring chicken. (I know all of those gals and think I can write that without getting clobbered in Arlington!) When I wrote Pushing Up Daisies, I wasn’t even thinking about publication, I just wanted to finish the darn thing. Then the other stuff came..agent, book deal.. second book deal. And now an Agatha nomination. And it’s all mighty fine. Maybe even sweeter since it’s a second act and there aren’t supposed to be any of those.

The point is, why let the Simon whatever-his-name-is type of person convince you it’s too late to live your dream. Unless, of course, your dream is to play shortstop for the Yankees, swim the English Channel or play guitar like Eric Clapton, in which case, it probably is too late if you’re past forty. But other than that, why not go for it?


Rosemary Harris is the author of the Dirty Business Mystery series from St. Martin’s Minotaur, Pushing Up Daisies, The Big Dirt Nap, and Deadhead (2010.) She’s the president of Sisters in Crime New England, a board member of MWA-NY Chapter, a member of the Garden Writers of America, and a Master Gardener in the state of CT. She’s still over forty.


  1. Hi, Rosemary: Amen, sister! I didn't publish until after I was 40 either. And thank goodness for that. A little life experience has helped with the writing process, I think.

    And thank goodness for the Tweezerman. It's a late bloomer's best friend. Maggie

  2. I just came from a blog where people aren't so enamored with Susan Boyle. Even to the point of making snide comments about her voice--things like how unfair such a homely woman got such a good voice when beautiful people like the blogger didn't. My mom would have called it sour grapes.

    As for being a late bloomer I was in my early 50s when my first book was published--since then I've had 25 more published. No, I'm not a big name author, but I've sure had a great time along the way.

    And I've met the best and kindest folks--other writers and readers.

    Marilyn a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

  3. Let's add to the list of things that Ms. Boyle could have used:

    A better frock or ensemble!

    I think my grandma wore that dress back in '56!

    Really, a wardrobe shift and a bit of tweezing really would have made her look even more like LOTS of women out here.

  4. Seriously..I don't even care if it was a set-up. The woman put herself out there in front of herself to ridicule. Does anyone know if she won?

  5. I raise the proverbial glass to toast all of the "late bloomers" gives hope to those of us yet to bloom.