Do you want to win a 5 bedroom mansion? Do you want writing success to be your ticket to a life of affluence – not just for yourself, but with enough to spare to help your friends? If so, read on…
There is one thing you must do.
You must learn to blow your own trumpet!
Lorna Page‘s life story tell us why: Lorna wrote passionately for more than 70 years without sharing her writing with others. Then, in her late eighties, she decided to write a raunchy novel called A Dangerous Weakness. But did she show it to anybody? No, she put it into a suitcase and forgot about it. Until her daughter-in-law happened to find the manuscript and made Lorna send it to a publisher.
What happened next was any writer’s dream: A publisher immediately signed her up. The advance rolled in, and Lorna suddenly went from poverty to affluence at age 93. She bought a 5-room mansion in southwest England. Then she started hauling her friends out of retirement homes, and installed them comfortably in her house.
Now Lorna is writing a selection of short stories. Watch her talking on this clip
Lorna’s story teaches us some important lessons:
- Trust your passion
Passion and talent are intimately related. If you are passionate, your latent talent will develop.
What is the relationship between passion and talent? It seems to me that if you are passionate about an art form, you are touched by the harmony hidden beneath the surface. Being able to perceive that harmony implies that you have innate talent. Here’s an example. In an interview with superblogger Liz Strauss, I asked her why she writes. She answered:
I write because I hear the music of language playing.
In other words, Liz can hear the harmony hidden within language. So, you can be sure she has talent. (And what amazing talent she has! I’ll publish the inspiring conversation with Liz very soon on WTD. Watch out for it!)
- Keep on writing no matter what it takes.
Are you willing to keep on writing? Even without recognition? Year after year – decade after decade?
Many bloggers initially say ‘yes’ to the long haul, but soon give up. I’ve observed even talented bloggers stutter, sputter, and finally fall silent. Why? Because writing is hard work. Because it doesn’t pay for a long time. Because it’s hard to keep going. Because it’s difficult to keep believing in oneself.
That’s the acid test for talent: that we just keep on going – no matter what.
- Have the courage to show your writing to others
Do you? If not, you might want to think about starting a blog. Why? Because a blog forces you to publish your writing week after week. That’s great training! As Lorna’s story shows, sharing your writing with others can have amazing consequences!
- Let go of both humility and arrogance
Humility and arrogance are closely related. They are both mindsets based on comparison with others. The humble person rates themselves ‘below’ others, whereas the arrogant person sets themselves ‘above’ his peers. When we compare ourselves with others, we take the eye off the ball. The ball being our own personal creative process.
- Cultivate modest confidence
Modesty means that we are aware that we are on a learning path and still have a lot to learn. Confidence is the quiet knowledge that we are complete at every stage. When we write, this is our full expression of who we are at this moment.
- Believe that it’s never too late.
Lorna’s story is a wonderful example of how a writer can be discovered at any age.
Since writing this post, some more facts have come to light, thanks to reader Mo. It turns out that some of the aspects of Lorna’s story aren’t strictly true. She didn’t actually buy a mansion with the advance. In fact, she had to pay money to get the book self-published. Here is what she says in a comment:
Hi everyone. Glad to know some people understand what reporters can do to a perfectly average story about a grandmother who writes novels. Here are the facts; I wrote A Dangerous Weakness on the backs of envelopes and scraps of paper, and put them away in a suitcase which my daughter-in-law found about 8 months ago, and encouraged me to publish a book. It would all still be on scraps of paper if she hadn’t found it. That’s it. But, through it all, I think it is a good book. In fact, now I’m working on my second. The really wonderful part of my story is my son who left his home in America to come back to England to take care of me when I needed a little help. Lorna Page
In light of the new facts, I’ve added another important point for success:
- Write a brilliant press release.
We not only have to write something worthwhile reading AND blow our own trumpet (or have a decent daughter-in-law with entrepreneurial spirit play the reveille), we also have to create a press release that tells a great story!
Lorna’s book is doing really well on Amazon and I wish her luck with her dream to rescue some of her friends from poverty with the proceeds. The main point is that a talented writer kept on writing for nearly 90 years and was finally discovered!
There are two wonderful films that spell out a similar message. One is the Buena Vista Social Club. It is one of the most inspiring documentaries ever made. If you don’t know it, here’s a brief run-down: A group of talented Cuban musicians who were in their eighties – and had given up playing music because they couldn’t find employment any more – were discovered by Ray Couder. Their late career blossomed and finally led to a spectacular and emotional performance in the Carnegie Hall. Tip: keep a box of tissues handy!
The other is Frank Lloyd Wright: A Film By Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Frank Lloyd Wright was arguably the best American architect ever. What impresses me about his life was the fact that at sixty he was written off as a ‘has-been’. The only one who believed in him was – himself. He was passionate about architecture, and believed that he could create something extraordinary. But it was only in his seventies and eighties that recognition finally came.
The Cuban musicians, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Lorna Page have something in common: they kept on pursuing their art, and finally won through.
What lesson do you take from Lorna’s Writing Success?
Do you want to wait until you’re 93 until you start blowing your own trumpet? That’s a long, long time! Alternatively, you might want to start to share your best stuff with others now. Yes, now.