Friday, August 10, 2012

More on My Writing Life

On my last post, I left with a teaser. Why would a book inspire me to devote a dozen years to learning a new craft? Because Abigail Trafford told me that I could do anything I wanted in the decades after turning 50. (Actually this works for those who are under 50 but who want to change their lives and follow their dreams.)

 Trafford's thesis is that you can do whatever you want as long as you define that desire. And as long as you have the health and means to accomplish that goal. If you're 55 and want to be an astronaut, probably not going to happen. But if you're 55 and want to start a career, she encourages you to research what it would take to enter that career. She sites an example of an oil woman who went back to school after 55 and became a nurse. My cousin, who has been a psychotherapist for 20 years, decided to finish her doctorate. So, Dr. Vail is now practicing in Vermont. Her significant other went back to school at the same time, and he is now a nurse.

I believed Trafford's message. I knew I wanted to write. I ground out literally thousands of pages, most of them dreadful. Several friends offered books on the craft of writing. Imagine my surprise there was a craft of writing! I devoured the books and began putting much of the information in practice. I ground out more pages, many of them actually better, but not good enough.

I played around with a couple of writing groups in northern Virginia but didn't find one that fit. I tried a writing partner who didn't know much more than I did. That didn't work. Then, I moved to my permanent home at Smith Mountain Lake, found Lake Writers, found Valley Writers in Roanoke, and found writing partners who were not afraid to tell me what I had was all right but needed a lot of work. And so my transformation began.


  1. This is a book for me--I turn 50 next May, and I've been thinking about how I want to live the rest of my life. I know I'll be writing, but I need more focus in it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Tina,
    Over the years, I'be given away over a dozen copies. I find Trafford's writing clear and so thought provoking. Good luck and keep on writing.

  3. Betsy supplied me with Abigail Trafford's book years ago. I recommended it to several of my psychotherapy clients who were dealing with the impulse to transition. I am Betsy's cousin who returned to school at 50 then moved across country to start over professionally. My partner was a new nurse at age 60 and performed with flying colors. Now we are on a new coast, starting over in many ways. These big changes offer new edges (personal, professional, geographic) to explore, leading to uncertainty paired with exhilaration. It's a great ride.

  4. Yes, Aleta Vail is the Dr. Vail mentioned in the blog entry. Three of us decided to change our lives and travel new roads in the future at the same time. I welcome Aleta and her partner Duane to the new path. It's so exciting. I don't know where it leads, but I travel it anyway.