A friend of mine who is forty-something recently had a baby. This is the third child she has welcomed into her life; the other two are school-aged. I met her for coffee recently, and had the chance to hug her sweet new baby and marvel at how calm and relaxed the new mama was. My friend is always a fairly laid-back person, but this time motherhood seemed to make her particularly tranquil. I was – and am – very happy for her. I know there will be plenty of challenges ahead for her and her family, but this seems to be exactly what she wants for this time in her life. It was one of those rare moments when you feel like things really do work out just the way they’re supposed to.
This doesn’t mean I want to have another child myself (despite my daughter’s assurances that it would be a lot of fun!!! if I had a baby). Just that I can see how fulfilling this might be to someone entering the second half of her life.
When one of my sisters was this age, she became a grandmother (making me a great-aunt, thank you very much). I couldn’t help but smile at the different choices women make in their lives – the different choices that woman can make in their lives now that they have more control over them than probably at any other time in the past.
When your second act can include becoming a mother or a grandmother (or potentially both), anything is possible.
A blogger I follow — Laura Young at No Safe Distance — recently posted on the importance of carefully choosing role models. This got me to thinking about all of the teachers I’ve had over the years who’ve helped me to understand how to accomplish various goals. They’ve also helped me see the reality of various goals I’ve set for myself. When I actually talk with successful novelists, for example, it helps me see that there’s nothing magical about their lives, so I don’t expect to somehow be transformed into a carefree, happy-go-lucky charmer if my next novel makes the New York Times Bestseller List. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like it to happen. I just know that the reality is, I will still have to deal with rejection, editors who change jobs, royalties that take a while to arrive and all of the other usual challenges of the writing life.
I’ve found teachers in various ways over the years. Here are some suggestions for how you might find yours:
Consider who in your life right now might be a good teacher for you as a writer. If you have someone in mind, consider yourself an apprentice. It doesn’t need to be a formal relationship. You could offer to buy the teacher lunch if he or she will give you some pointers about writing.
If no one pops to mind, then keep yourself open to finding a teacher. Don’t force the issue, but do pursue opportunities that you may have disregarded before. For example, take a writing class at a nearby college or arts center. Attend a writers’ workshop. Join a writers’ organization and participate in local meetings. Go online and take part in writers’ listservs and bulletin boards. Hit the library and find books by writers you admire, and books about writing that can guide you. Let others around you know that you’re open to finding a teacher or mentor who can help you shape your writing and your writing career.
What are some ways you’ve found a teacher?