Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Second Act

Clipart Puzzle Of Colorful Pieces Fitting Together - Royalty Free Vector Illustration by Pushkin

My second act didn’t begin until I was well into my fifth decade.. Life is a puzzle with pieces that somehow fit together by the time we're done. It took more than fifty years and a whole lot of patience to find one of the most important of my puzzles pieces. And when I did, it fit perfectly into what was already there.

From the time I was a little girl I wanted to write stories. I excelled in my English classes. It was one subject that I looked forward to, received top grades and soaked up every word the teachers offered.  Helping out at home and working to save money for college left me little extra time to pursue my passion for writing in high school so I put it on hold.

College and working summers so I could return to college filled the next four years. Suddenly, I was a teacher and my extra hours were devoted to lesson plans, extra projects for my students, dating and taking care of my apartment.

Next came marriage, more teaching, then motherhood and supporting my husband in his career. The writing dream remained in the recesses of my busy mind. Someday I’d tell myself, someday I’ll write stories for children. It was a goal I’d set for myself, although I never mentioned it to anyone else.

I loved my life as teacher, wife and mother, but an important piece of the puzzle of my life was missing. Would I find it one day? I sometimes wondered, but it remained elusive.

Suddenly, my children were independent, my husband took a job in a state hundreds of miles away and, after we’d moved, I found myself friendless, bored, and depressed. Flipping through a magazine one too-quiet afternoon, I spied an ad that told me I could learn to write for children through a correspondence course. A tiny spark of interest flickered as I turned the page and then returned to it. I checked the school’s credentials the next day and enrolled. Why not? What did I have to lose?

I finished the course in record time with great enthusiasm, wrote story after story geared to middle grade children, the age group I’d taught so many years before. I joined a small critique group where I learned more about writing and heard encouraging words about my stories. I sold a story and was hooked for life.

I decided to branch out and try writing fiction for adults but I turned out some pretty clich├ęd, lame tales. I tried poetry and some of it was not half bad. Next, I delved into creative non-fiction and a lot of it was published at ezines and then magazines and finally anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul and Guideposts. That was where my strength lay. Being one who likes variety in life, I attempted some articles on the craft of writing and many of them were published. I joined an online critique group and then anothe when that one folded. I gained knowledge about our craft, confidence in myself as a writer and some lifetime writer friends.

I started a blog about my writing world with the intent of encouraging other writers, and I found that I enjoyed posting five days a week about a subject I’ve loved for a long, long time.

Lately, I’ve been selling children’s stories and have an editor interested in a juvenile novel I wrote several years ago.

This second act of my life brought me that large and  important piece of my life’s puzzle as well as great satisfaction which continues every time I string words together to create a new story or poem.


  1. Good for you! I also came into writing as my second act. Although sometimes I find myself wishing I had done it sooner, maybe there was a reason for this. At the point when I began to seriously write, maybe my life experience is what helped me become successful.

    Thanks for sharing this post.

  2. Nancy,
    I've only known your non-fiction and craft writing, so I didn't realize your initial draw was to children's literature. Congrats on this whole, successful Second Act career! It's clearly working for you. And good luck with your YA novel. ;-)

  3. I have been sitting by the sidelines reading your posts for quite awhile but thought that I would leave a note this time. This particular post has encouraged me to keep writing. Thanks.

  4. Oh my goodness, your story rocks! What an inspiration for other women (and men). The name of your blog fits you and your blog perfectly.

  5. I amhave so gladwe I found youryour blog. Your story has fueled my motivation. I am a middle school language arts teacher, I am interested in writing for a living, and I just entered my fifth decade of life. I am truthfully amazed at the similarities in our stories. Now, I need to get started making my dreams a reality.

  6. Very inspiring story. I am so glad I found you through the Blogathon. I always wondered about those "author" correspondence courses where they promised individual attention. I don't seem to see their ads anymore. I am in awe of the variety of writing you do. Your students were so lucky to have you as a teacher. What a Second Act!

  7. Very nice, Nancy. So often it seems we find our 'second wind' after all the work of life seems done. You were busy doing all those things that make it what it is, and now your days are busy with what it could be. And what it could be is an excellent writer, example to other writers, encourager and friend, as well as accomplished children's author. I too, published my first book, a life-long dream, in my second half of life, and now I am working on a children's poetry book...but have to set some goals. When we come late in life to do what our passion is, goal setting becomes more important than the casual 'go with the flow' of life we once possessed while just living and keeping up with daily routines. I am so thrilled you've found the niche' and actively pursued it. Born from dreams early in life, it is never too late to make them into reality. Always satisfying to find "the missing piece" of our puzzle.

  8. Another beautiful post, Nancy! It's inspiring to know that there really is no excuse for not following your passion, no matter when you discover it. Thanks!

  9. What a wonderful post. I am a new blogger and have found so much inspiration from reading the posts from the blogathon participants. Until two months ago, I had never written anything beyond corporate reports and business letters. It never even entered my mind. Then I was telling a story to two women at lunch and "spark" I said, I think I'll start a blog to write just for myself. I started that day. I am having the best time exploring life at 60+ with a retired husband who wants to sell everything and become citizens of the world with just our backpacks and rollies. I have much to learn but this, too, is a fantastically fun second act for me. I'll be following as I know I have much to learn. Thank you!