Friday Speak Out!: Never Too Late

Friday, April 12, 2019
by Jeanine DeHoney

I recently read an article about an African American actress named Dorothy Steel. She started acting at age 88 and after roles in several movies landed a role in Marvel’s mega blockbuster hit “Black Panther” as the Merchant Tribal elder at the age of 92. Yes, 92.

When reading the back story about this gemstone of a woman, who reminded me of all the beautiful strong elder woman in my own village, it was awe-inspiring. She exemplified the adage that it is never too late, to follow your dream, to do what makes your heart soar.

Each day I have to remind myself of this truth as I pursue a writing career, a dream I had since I was seven years old. It is so easy to slip into a gloomy abyss at times when you feel that it’s now or never with your writing. You may feel like I have that if that novel isn’t finished yet there is a likelihood it may never get finished. Or if you haven’t landed a feature essay in that magazine you’ve been submitting to for what seems like an eternity, that it will never happen.

It’s easy to feel on any given bad day, writing or otherwise, that you should throw in the towel because you aren’t in that imagined place you thought you would be during this phase of your life. Although the reasons why we may not be in that place are as varied as they are significant; raising children, being a caretaker of a parent, health problems, dealing with emotional lows, finances, etc., that feeling of, “My writing career will always remain lukewarm or never get off the ground,” can malign your spirit.

But oh how prejudicial and unloving we are to ourselves when we court these ideologies. We have a gift as writers and it will never be too late to use our gift and spread our words to the world. It would be a loss to all if we didn’t persevere, and share our stories, our wisdom, our humor, our passion, this much-honed gift we’ve been blessed with.

So make a pact with yourself or with someone close to you that will hold you accountable, that you’ll never ever “ever” say “It’s too late,” to pursue your dream. No matter how many other things take priority, how many obstacles you must overcome, and no matter what age you are or are approaching…live and write freely, with full on passion and expectancy. And if you need more inspiration to live and write accordingly in your creative purpose, remember actress Dorothy Steel.

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Jeanine DeHoney has had her work published on several blogs, in magazines and anthologies. Among others her writing has been published in Essence, The Children's Ark, Metro Fiction, My Brown Baby, The Write Place At the Write Time, Literary Mama, Mutha Magazine, True Stories Well Told, Parent. Co., Brain Child Magazine, Jerry Jazz Magazine, Today's Caregiver Magazine, and Rigorous Literary Magazine. She is an essayist in the anthologies "Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul,” "Here in the Middle: Stories of Love, Loss, and Connection from The Ones Sandwiched in Between," “Theories of HER-an experimental anthology, in the anthology, "In Celebration of Sisters," and in the Chicken Soup For The Soul Anthology, The Power Of Yes.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Diane Martin said...

Black Panther is one of my favorite movies of all time. Now I have an even greater appreciation for it, knowing the background of Dorothy Steel. (Of course I had to Google her!)

Thanks for this article. I'm 53, have been writing middle-grade fantasies off and on for ten years, and am full of doubt and fear of the what-ifs in my life. Thank you for the reminder that it's not too late. :-)

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Yes Diane, Black Panther is one of my all time favorites too. We need great middle school books so keep at it and have faith this is your season to soar as a writer.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Jeanine! Your posts are always so inspiring. :)

Wow, your story about Dorothy Steel makes my heart swell. She rocks. If she could start acting at 88 and land Black Panther at 92 (OMG, 92!) then I need to stop whinging about my age. Honestly, I've felt like the clock is counting down and I'm on this manic race, trying to get as much done as possible before I turn the big 5-0 in three years.

What you said is so true: "But oh how prejudicial and unloving we are to ourselves when we court these ideologies." You're so right, and that's why we need more posts like yours and to highlight women who are going for it at any age, because there is such age prejudice in our society, more than any other. My mom's family is from a small village in Okinawa, and they are one of the world's longest-living people and have more centenarians than other countries, and they have the opposite viewpoint, that the older you get, the more "ikigai" you have, which is existential fuel--joy and purpose to live a long, happy life. They don't retire like our seniors do--they don't even have a word for "retire." It's the not retiring from your purpose-driven life that seems to be the key factor of longevity. Writing gives us purpose, and it gets better with age and practice.

In our upcoming July e-zine issue, we will have an interview with a writer who published her first historical fiction novel at 95! And it just won an award. Stay tuned for that. But she's proof it's never too late, and she's awesome, and gorgeous too.

Thanks for this post, Jeanine! I needed to hear this today, as I'm at the beginning stages of my memoir and feeling a tad bit overwhelmed. :)

Margo Dill said...

I love this post too. I heard an interview with a young successful actress who is 32 on a podcast the other day, and she was telling a story of how people told her she was TOO OLD to move from London to Hollywood to pursue her dream of acting. But she did it anyway! I think about age at 48, which I don't feel old, but I know too a lot of people in the industry--I am on the old-ish side, but I decided I'm not gonna let this bother me anymore. There's absolutely nothing I can do about it.

Thank you for your post!

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Thanks Angela. And what an awe-inspiring story about your Mom's family roots. That is a story waiting to be written. I'm looking forward to reading the July e-zine with the interview with the author who published her first historical novel at a "young" 95 years of age.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Jeanine--Yes, I think most of us need to hear your message... Probably most of us would benefit from reading it every week (or day) to keep our spirits up.

I remember your earlier post on "The Muffin" (was it your first?), and am still in awe of your name. If that name is not meant for a writer, I don't know what is.

Good luck with your writing, and may we all find the agent/publisher/publication that's right for us.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Thanks so much for everyone's comments. Wish you all as well open doors of success as writers.

Unknown said...

Mrs. DeHoney great article. It really is never to late to start on a dream. Thank you and love you.

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