I’m not a late-bloomer, I’ve been living my life.

‘Although I started to write late in my life I always knew I would be a novelist’

Glenda Guest, author of Siddon Rock, 2010

Perhaps it’s because my 49th birthday is now only a matter of weeks away, but I find myself drawn to articles with titles such as ‘Maturing with Vitality’ or ‘The Superfoods that keep you Fit’ and I was particularly relieved to read the there is no proven age at which you peak creatively. Which is very good news, especially for women.

It’s still true that women find it more challenging to make time for creativity in their lives. If you’re a mother with young children, finding the mental space to write, paint, produce music or whatever creative pursuit you hanker towards, can be almost impossible. And even more frustrating for female artists, is that it is still harder to have your manuscript published, your artwork exhibited, than it is for men.

Older women have much to draw on for their material. Their understanding of the  map of the human heart,  the cycles of life, the triumphs and disappointments is more nuanced, layered and textured by personal experience. A  life lived, if not always lived well. Is it late-blooming? No I don’t think so. We come to things in our own way, in our own time.

Creativity, the desire to realise artistic goals is not just the provenance of the young. It is never too late to be experimental, questioning or to have a vision.

Elizabeth Jolley’s first novel, Palomino was published in 1980 when she was 53.

“Sometimes the letters were disjointed and the novelist sent only a fragment which Dorothy guessed would slip into place sooner or later, unless of course, it was discarded. Writers did not always use everything they wrote, the novelist explained.”

From Miss Peabody’s inheritance 1983

Olga Masters worked as journalist from the age of 15yrs, but her 1st story collection was published when she was 63

Laura Ingalls Wilder started writing in her 40s but only achieved fame in her 60’s with The Little House on the Prairie series.

Mary Wesley began writing children’s stories in her 50’s but her novel for adults was published when she was 71.

Jessica Anderson was 52 when Tirra Lirra by the River was published.

Rosalie Gascoigne, sculptor, first exhibited at 58.

‘There was no possibility of being an artist of any sort. I never considered myself an artist. I did what I did because I had to.’

Poplars - 1996-1997

Big Yellow - 1988

Emily Kngwarreye, started painting in her 70’s working with the Utopia Women’s Batik Group. Her first solo exhibition was at the age of 80. She still holds the record for the highest price paid for a painting by an Australian woman.

Emu Woman 1988-89

Big Yam Dreaming 1995 29.1m x 803.9cm


12 thoughts on “I’m not a late-bloomer, I’ve been living my life.

  1. Thanks for this- it beats Forbes’ article on how women over 50 have almost double the unemployment rate of any other group and how finding a job will be next to impossible.

    I’m a few steps ahead of you- the big 50 is in a little over a month and it’s the first one that is…well, freaking me out. I’ve used my time off to tap into my creativity but don’t yet know if will ever be anything that can pay the bills.

    I liked all the examples of creative women- and here’s one maybe a little out of the norm- Julia Child. Didn’t start cooking until she was 40 and didn’t make it big until her 50s. We need the inspiration!

    • There is that small matter of paying the bills isn’t there? When I win the lottery (tricky as I never buy a ticket), I’m going to establish a prize for emerging older women writers!
      I nearly included Julia Child, another great inspiratio, so I’m glad you mentioned her..
      J x

  2. Popping in from the Rewind! Thanks for an inspirational post. As a young mum, I couldn’t agree more with how difficult it can be to find time. Xx

  3. Wow, as someone who rediscovered my love of writing in my early forties I am feeling like a complete spring chicken! Great to see that there are many long, lovely years ahead. I think in many ways, you need to have a lived a bit, in order to have the insight required as a creative thinker – or maybe that’s just a little justification.
    Dropping by from Weekend Rewind.

  4. This is a great topic, and it’s so nice to meet another late 40’s blogger. It’s good getting older, I think since I turned 40 I am definitely getting a bit wiser… and very little seems so bad these days. Great to read this list too… there’s so much time and energy spend in raising kids, but after the most intense period is over… there’s still lots of time left. Must keep healthy!

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