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03 August 2016

Glitter, Stickers & Getting Older | IWSG


I'm excited to be co-hosting this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) day along with Tamara Narayan, Tonja at Kidbits, Lauren at Pensuasion, Stephen Tremp and Julie Flanders. The IWSG is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak.

I think our world could use a lot more places like this - places where we can safely share our concerns, doubts, fears and insecurities, whether about writing or anything else that we're passionate about, and get support and encouragement in return. When you find a place like the IWSG, it makes you want to keep coming back for more.

A new feature of IWSG is a monthly question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's question prompt is:

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have written about by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. If you want to know how I answered it, have a read below.

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I was talking with a woman at our marina the other day and she told me she thought I was in my late twenties or early thirties. My first thought was suspicion - What does she want? Why is she buttering me up? Then I had a closer look at her and noticed she was squinting in the bright sun and her eyeglasses were all smudged with dirt. I realized that she couldn't see the lines on my face, gray hair on my head and the jowls that are starting to form, all of which clearly give away the fact that I {gasp} recently turned 50.

Some people find their passion for writing when they're young. Their first pieces of writing might have been written with colored pencils in little booklets made out of construction paper. And they've been writing ever since.

Me, not so much. I started blogging three years ago and decided to start writing seriously last year, when I was almost {gasp again} 50. So, my first piece of writing isn't a colorful homemade book covered in glitter and stickers that I poured my heart and soul into when I was a child and presented to my mom to read with a hopeful smile on my face.

Instead it's a rather dull looking Word document in my computer with the rather uninspiring working title of Draft #341, filed next to the naively and optimistically titled document, The Only Draft I'll Ever Need (which goes by its nickname, Draft #1) and sits next to The Draft To End All Drafts (which goes by its nickname, Draft #2) and their offspring, Drafts #3-340.

I've been working on my first murder mystery novel since November of last year, so it hasn't had a chance to get too dusty yet. But, enough is enough. I need to finish a decent draft of this so that I can print it out, apply some glitter and stickers and give a copy to my mom to read with a hopeful smile on my face before I turn {sigh} 51.

What do you want to accomplish before your next birthday?

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110 comments:

  1. Hi,
    You are right on time with your writing no matter what age you start. I am still working on my first manuscript and I started seven years ago. So hang in there. You might also want to give your finished manuscript to a couple of beta readers so that you receive other points of view outside of family. So hang in there and keep writing.
    What do I want to accomplish before my next birthday? Getting an agent and that has to come soon because my birthday is not so far away.
    Enjoyed reading your article today.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

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    1. Hi Pat - thanks for popping by! I'll definitely want to use beta readers when I get to that point. All the best with getting an agent before your next birthday. That sounds like a great goal to have.

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  2. A lot of famous writers started writing at a later age, so there's no good time/age to start. I have an epic fantasy that I've been working on for about 5yrs. And a YA contemporary fantasy for almost 2yrs. Because I can't help myself I started drafting an urban fantasy novella and my first adult romance. And I've had an on-off again relationship with my writing since 3rd-4th grade. So by my birthday next year, I'd like to finish the former manuscripts mentioned. Revised/edited, beta read and looked at by a professional editor.

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    1. Great goal Lidy! It's reassuring to hear from other folks who have been working on manuscripts for a while. I can't imagine juggling more than one though. Good on you for having so many WIPs.

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  3. You know, starting later in life isn't a bad thing. You have so much more insight and wisdom to draw on than a young writer. I remember wanting to publish my first novel at the age of 16...and I was SOOOO not ready for that. Thank goodness it didn't pan out that way. =) Keep at it. I'm betting when you finish, you'll have literary gold.

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    1. Thanks so much Crystal for the encouragement and the kind words :-)

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  4. I'm really glad you found your passion for writing - you are an excellent writer and we both love to read your blog!
    My birthday is coming up - late October - so I'd like to have hauled the boat, done the work, and re-launched the boat by then.

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    1. Aww...aren't you sweet! Or, is this Hastings who's writing this comment. I bet it is because he knows I would feed him lots of cheese for leaving sweet comments.

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  5. I love how you numbered your drafts! You probably appear to be young because of your youthful enthusiasm. I like your question. My next birthday is next month, so I can't have too lofty of goals. Making it through August is one. I'm writing a play with a young student. I hope we're at a good first draft by the time school starts. The first day of school for us is also my birthday!
    Cheers! I'm sure your mom will love your stories. Moms are like that.
    Mary at Play off the Page

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    1. Moms are great, aren't they. I could write the word unicorn 400 times, put it in a glittery construction paper binding with plenty of stickers and she'd tell me it's great. Moms are always are biggest cheerleaders :-)

      Good luck with the co-authoring of the play. Sounds like a great project.

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  6. I did write when I was younger, but life exploded and writing took a back seat. I'm also 'older' I say that in the nicest of ways, when I again started writing.

    Thank you for co-hosting!!!

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    1. "Older" isn't always a bad thing :-) Nice to have someone else in my age bracket cracking on at writing.

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  7. I'd say take that age compliment and run!
    I wrote some when I was younger, but never got serious until I was in my forties. There is hope.
    Thanks for co-hosting today.

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    1. Wow, you've done so well for having started in your forties. Not only have you written books, you've also had them published! You give me hope :-)

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  8. Someone once told me that novelists shouldn't write novels until they turned 30. Of course, that person was given to unhelpful opinions, but she has a point in that the more experiences you've gone through, they more colors you can give to your writing. Best of luck on that murder mystery! 341 drafts? Ye gads! I hope to be in the midst of a second draft of the novel I'm drafting now by my next birthday, which is next January.

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    1. Well, to be fair, some of my drafts are only about five words long before I get exasperated and start another one :-)

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  9. There are many great and well-loved writers who didn't start writing until 'late' in life or didn't publishing their first work until well into their 50's, 60's, and 70's! I say it's never too late if you're still kicking!

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  10. This was a great read! We have a lot in common. I live on a sailboat (in Mexico) and writing is much more fun than boat projects. I was older than you, I was over 50 (gasp). Thanks for hosting IWSG.

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    1. Thanks Lynn! It's so much fun to find kindred spirits, especially people who live on sailboats and write. Here's hoping our paths cross one day on the water.

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  11. Before my next birthday (which is coming up fast toward the end of September) I must clean up the house because my parents are coming to visit, throw a spend-the-night birthday party for my daughter, and start a new novel. Plus I'd like to enter the IWSG anthology contest.

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    1. A sleepover birthday party sounds like a lot of work! All the best with the IWSG anthology contest. I read Parallels - it was fantastic. There are a lot of talented folks in the IWSG.

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  12. IWSG really is a very special place and a wonderful group of people. :)

    I'm not even thinking about my birthday yet - too far and yet coming closer....

    Go for it! Get those glitter pens and shiny stickers ready! :)

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    1. That's the way with birthdays - there always too far away yet coming closer all at the same time. Especially as you get older! Thanks for popping by!

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  13. The main thing I want to accomplish by my next birthday, in two months, is the aquisition of a dog. I want one so bad. In terms of writing though, I'm hoping to finish a good beta worthy draft of one of my current wips by the end of this year. Thanks for co-hosting.

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    1. A dog is a wonderful goal!! I really hope you're able to make that one come true. I'm betting you would provide a very happy home to a cute little puppy and there's one out there just waiting for you :-)

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  14. Thanks for co-hosting, Ellen. My dream for this summer is to sell my house to a couple who will love it for the next 25 years AND sell one of my novels to a movie company. Yes, I dream big. Enjoyed reading your blog. Have a great day.

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    1. Dreams are meant to be big :-) All the best with making yours come true.

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  15. So you're one of those young whippersnappers--- I'm going to be 60 in a few years, but I'm immature enough to pass for much younger online.

    I am primarily a poet but have always wanted to write fiction as well. I'm hoping to finish two novella projects and get them published, and publish a new poetry chapbook, before a year is up.

    Nissa Annakindt
    http://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com

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    1. Whippersnapper - that gave me a good laugh :-) I think I might have some immaturity going for me too. That's probably what makes people think I'm younger than I am. All the best with your birthday goals.

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  16. I didn't write seriously until in my 40's so I understand. I always read a lot but I was so busy with my children, it wasn't an option. Us old folks can still do it.

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    1. It's very encouraging to hear of other writers who started a bit later and good to know that us old folks can still do it :-)

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  17. You are living proof that it's never too late to catch the writing bug :) Raymond Chandler didn't start writing until he was 44; George Elliot when she was 40 and Mary Wesley of The Chamomile Lawn fame published her first novel for adults when she was 70!

    Good luck with your murder mystery - I've taken to putting dates on my drafts rather than numbers, then I know how long it's been since I visited the piece.

    You've read my list of things I need to write in what order, I'd like to have at least got to starting the detective novel before my next birthday, which is Dec.

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    1. I should use dates for my drafts instead, although it might be depressing to see how long I go between visits. Looking forward to reading your detective novel when it's published.

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  18. Glad I'm not the only one who started seriously writing when I was older. Yet, I'm encouraging my 9-yr-old granddaughter to write down her stories. I give her spiral notebooks and journals to keep her writing. My next birthday is in 2 months. By then, I hope to finish the rough draft of another cozy mystery.

    Thanks for co-hosting this month.

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    1. That's great that your encouraging your granddaughter to be a writer. You're probably her inspiration :-)

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  19. I can tell I'd like your voice--humorous cynicism. Love that type. I wonder if "Draft 341" would sell? Hmmm...

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    1. Thanks so much Jacqui! I wonder what kind of cover design I'd need for a book entitled "Draft 341"?

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    2. BTW, how do you respond to 97 comments! And you do--you're my new blogging roll model.

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    3. This is the most comments I've ever had (!!) and it was a lot work to respond to everyone, but I know that I appreciate it when people respond to my comments so, you know, do unto others etc. :-)

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  20. I can't get passed the SiWC16 coming up in November. I'm so excited not much else is sinking in.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. I had to do a little Google to see what SiWC16 is. I'm guessing it's the Surrey Writer's Conference? If so, that sounds exciting!

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  21. Starting out to write as a older person only means you have more to say and with more experience to back you up. Great to meet you here during the August #IWSG.

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    1. Thanks so much for popping by! I like your philosophy that, as an older person, I have more to say and more experience to back it up :-)

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  22. "... and their offspring, Drafts #3-340." Ha, ha, love it. I published my first book at the age of 51, so don't worry, you're never too old to write. Good luck getting that murder mystery out into the world! I want to have my third book ready to publish by my next birthday. Thank you for co-hosting!

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    1. It's so encouraging to hear about other people who got into writing later in the game - thanks for stopping by and sharing!

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  23. Hi, Ellen! This is my first time here. I love your blog. I've liked your facebook page, and am following you now. Thanks for the words of wisdom from CS Lewis. I needed them as well. I agree with C. Lee above. You have more experience to make your stories more enticing. Thanks for sharing with the August #IWSG. All the best, my dear.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and liking our FB page! I love that CS Lewis quote too.

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  24. Your never too old to start, just take that Lewis quote and twist it around. Anything worth doing at 10 (or 20, 30, 40) is just as worthwhile at 50 :-) Well, my next birthday is only a little over a week away, so I'll shoot for the birthday after that. I'd love to have at a dozen subscribers to my mailing list. And to have published the third novel in my self-published series. Here's hoping you'll have that first draft printed, and glittery by your next birthday.

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    1. That's a great twist on the CS Lewis quote! I just signed up for your mailing list, so you only need eleven more :-)

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  25. Hi Ellen
    You have a lovely voice! I had a good chuckle at your drafts and their nicknames! Is draft #341 your final?
    Thank you for co-hosting the IWSG this month.

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  26. You're 50? Youngster.

    Let's see, what do I want to accomplish before my next birthday...I better hurry it's about a month away.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I do feel like a youngster now that I think about it - thanks for the laugh Sandee :-)

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  27. One is never too old to write! (I keep telling myself that too ;) ). Plus, there's a lot of wisdom and experience built up now. Talk about a treasure!

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement! After this post and everyone's kind words I'm started to feel a lot younger, when it comes to writing at least.

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  28. Your post was inspiring, as I too, am an older writer. Life got in the way of my early dreams, and while I kept writing throughout the years, my writing was mostly newspaper articles and unfinished bits. Thanks for the encouragement. Loved that C.S. Lewis quote ~ children's literature can often be profound, some of the best writing out there. Thanks for co-hosting! Enjoy your IWSG Day!

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    1. So nice to hear from other "older" writers :-) I definitely agree with you on children's literature. It's some of the best writing out there and some of the stuff that's stuck with me the most.

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  29. Oh this was fun! Offsprings 3-340 (grin). Love the CS Lewis quote. And it's true, it matters not when the muse awakens, but that it does :-)

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    1. Thanks Diedre - glad I brought a smile to your face :-)

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  30. What do I want to accomplish before my next birthday? To sell the boat. I dragged my feet on this decision for over a year and, now that I'm all in, I just want it to be done so we can move on. My birthday's in January, I'll let you know how it goes.

    Cheers,
    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

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    1. Fingers crossed for a speedy sale. I can't wait for you to sell Cambria so that I can follow along on your new adventures on your next boat :-)

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  31. I feel the same way about Harry Potter. 10 or 50 it's a great story! And I hope to finish my three WIPs by my next birthday.

    Stephen Tremp
    IWSG Co-Host August 2016
    www.stephentremp.com

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    1. Harry Potter is definitely one of those that works at all ages.

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  32. I started at the colored pencil age. And now, as another une femme d'un certain âge, I want to actually publish what I write. That said, next birthday, I want to have completed the Only Draft I'll Ever Need. ;-) Thanks for co-hosting.

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    1. "Une femme d'un certain age" - I love that!!

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  33. I really love that quote by C.S. Lewis, and I think it may possibly be true. When you start doesn't matter. Many well-known writers started later. I started writing as a child, but I may not get a decent finished draft of a novel until I'm 50. Here's hoping it happens sooner though.

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    1. I have a feeling you'll have a decent draft long before 50 :-)

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  34. I started late, sixty something, I think. My only regret is that it's leaving me less time to perfect my craft. When I start a new novel, I wonder if I'll be called away before my project is finished. Silly, I guess. Wishing you great success. Blessings

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    1. It's so encouraging to hear from people who started later in life! Thanks so much for sharing and stopping by.

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  35. I didn't start writing until I was fifty. Of course, it turns out I'm such a slow writer, I may be retired before I finish my first story. Guess I should have started twenty years earlier!

    Thanks for co-hosting this month's IWSG!

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    1. Yay - another later in life writer! I'm an awfully slow writer too, so I can definitely relate to wishing I had started twenty years earlier.

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  36. I have been writing all my life but I did not get serious until I was fifty too, I never thought I was good enough to be more serious but Holly Lisle changed my mind about that. So you are not alone in being older and in the beginning of this venture.
    Happy IWSG Day

    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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    1. Thanks so much for your comments Juneta. It feels good to know that I'm not alone.

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  37. I also started writing late in life. I think older people have more to say, so our stories are deeper. Maybe it's wishful thinking though. :))

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    1. Goodness, there's so many of us started later in life writers out that. It's so encouraging and reassuring! Thanks so much for popping by.

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  38. hank you for co-hosting today's #IWSG. You wit shines through in your writing and is fun to read. I am still smiling about the glitter-show Mom comments! Just returned from a 2-week vacation filled with NO writing except tweets and email responses. Today I wrote out my goals for this month, rest of this year, and 5-year goals so your question also brought a smile to my face. On my list are genealogical novel, short story, and novella (possible full novel). All are in various stages of completion so 5 years seems reasonable (for a 70-year old!)

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Gail! I'm impressed that you have five year goals. I'm working on just accomplishing tiny little goals each day :-)

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  39. Thanks for co-hosting! Oh, I have so much I want to do before my next birthday. At least I'll be able to cross off skydiving later this month! Hopefully, I'll finishing drafting both of my current WIPs. That'd make me happiest of all.

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    1. Wow - skydiving! That's a huge accomplishment :-)

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  40. My next birthday is in Sept and I'll be 60, so knock it off before I smack you! LOL! Thanks for cohosting!

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    1. You made me laugh! It's been fun co-hosting. I've "met" so many new people, like you :-)

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  41. Oh my gosh, I could've written this post! You made my heart smile, thank you! I'm 47 and rediscovered my love of writing a few years ago and just published my first book last month. I also got carded recently...not sure what that was all about but it made my week. It would've made my year but I forgot all about it until I read this post. Age does that. Thanks for co-hosting!

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    1. How much fun that you got carded! What a compliment! And, believe me, I do know what you mean about forgetting things :-)

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  42. Although I've always loved writing and wrote many stories when I was young, I didn't write seriously until about three years ago when I was 48. I'll be 51 in about 2 weeks. I completely understand! I'm still editing my first novel, and the number of drafts could give you a run for your money. It's a pleasure 'meeting' you during this month's IWSG, and thanks so much for co-hosting. Have a great week. Eva

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    1. It's good to "meet" you as well. I've met so many interesting people through IWSG - one of the many reasons why it's such a great group.

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  43. I'm similar to other posters in that I didn't begin writing seriously until I was an adult (my thirties). I like the option of adding glitter to my manuscript, but I hope it is because it finds and agent and a publisher. :)

    Thanks for co-hosting this month!

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    1. I think once you find an agent and publisher, you should not only add glitter, but also lots of stickers :-)

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  44. I'm not sure I even want to be a writer, although I certainly seem to do plenty of it. Does that make me one? I don't know. Our blog has well over 300 posts, mostly written by me. What I do know is that I will be 58 next week so you don't get any pity from me on the age thing. I'm finishing up one career and don't have a clue what to do next in my life except go sailing. Maybe I'll find something 'out there' to do for money if I need to make any. Which I will. And which scares the sh*t out of me. Giving up a career is a hard thing to do. So carry on with that novel. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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    1. Happy birthday in advance!! You're definitely a writer. Yours is one of my go to blogs for laughs and inspiration :-)

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  45. My mom wrote some vignettes I think in her mid-40s. They probably won't see the light of day, but they were good.

    Thanks for co-hosting!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Deb and sharing about your mom's writing :-)

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  46. I bet your mom will be so excited to read it when you are ready. My next birthday is in a couple of weeks so by then, I guess I hope I am closer in the outlining process of my next work in progress. I have s good start...just a few missing plot point scenes in the middle. :)

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    1. She will be excited - moms are great that way :-)

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  47. Based on the amount of drafts, you are making good progress, I would say. At least, you are working on it very hard and shaping it into something better. I'm looking forward to the finished product next year! You are a talented writer with the perfect amount of humor, Ellen.

    I started working on my first book last November as well, but it won't be finished by my next birthday. I do hope to have made some progress with the voice and theme by then, though. I can't think of anything else to accomplish by my next birthday. I'm pretty happy with my life in general. :-) OK, maybe line up a perfect house and dog sit in a warm area...

    Liesbet @ Roaming About

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    1. Well, it's possible I may have slightly exaggerated the number of drafts I have. Not that I've ever been known to exaggerate :-)

      Thanks so much for your kind words Liesbet. They mean a lot coming from you, especially given the fact that you're an accomplished and published writer.

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    2. Now who's handing out kind words? :-) Cheers to both of us becoming published book writers one day!

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  48. I love your writing. Your blog is one I can always count on to make me smile!

    Before my birthday? To be at least to the Bahamas - and maybe the USVI/BVI's! But we have to leave the dock first...

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    1. Aww...thanks so much! I have faith you'll be off the docks in no time and sure am hoping we meet up out on the water in the Bahamas or elsewhere this coming season.

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  49. Good luck with your book! Your drafts sound like the ones I had in school when writing papers. You always get optimist that you are finally finishing … only to realize your work will never be perfect. Argh! Don't you hate that? I want a perfect piece and I want it NOW! :) Maybe if you print your document and add some glitter and stickers it will feel more like a finished piece?

    Anyway, as I said on my blog, thanks for co-hosting IWSG. I loved reading your post and look forward to hearing more about your authoring experience as you develop and draft your first book. :)

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    1. I definitely have some perfectionist tendencies which get in the way of getting anything done :-( Thanks so much for popping by here and your sweet words.

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  50. Congrats to you! Sounds like you have a good start on finishing your WIP. Hey, I'd say blogging IS writing and you certainly put out a fun entertaining blog post. My birthday is in May. So I'll seriously think about what I want to accmplish in April!! LOL Thanks for co hosting.

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    1. You sound like me - waiting until the last minute to figure out what my goals are :-)

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  51. I did a lot of writing when I was a kid (and wanted to be a writer) but didn't wander back to it until I was past 50--I'm 58 now. It's all good, right. I'm not sure what I want to accomplish by my birthday in October, except to keep writing, especially when I start teaching again next month.
    Thanks for co-hosting IWSG

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    1. Yay - another later in life writer :-) Thanks for popping by!

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  52. Before my next birthday, I'd like to have novel #3 completed, and novel #2 edited. And to have gone down a clothing size. :p

    Maybe it wasn't the dirt on her glasses! I think people don't see our flaws the way we do.

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    1. Ah, the drop a clothing size goal. I think that's on my list every year :-)

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  53. I can't wait to read your murder mystery! You're an amazing writer - I've seen that reading your blog!
    Love the sewing projects and the eating goals. I may have to copy your methods. Keeping track sounds like a great method, but chocolate is such a hard things to go without! As is a washer and dryer, but gosh I hate doing laundry, which is stacking up as I write. Okay, I read your last blog entry first. LOL
    I love it when I'm told I look 10 years younger than I am. Great genes from my Mom, but getting older is no fun. Those new aches and pains are not welcome!!!
    Have a great month!

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    1. Wow - thanks so much for your sweet words Yolanda! Chocolate is hard to give up, but I find the longer I go without it, the less I need it. I still want it, but I need it less :-)

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  54. What an awesome post, Ellen! And thanks so much for co-hosting.

    It's never too late to start living your dream, and it sounds like you had way more than one dream to chase, so it's all good. When your draft is finished, use all the stickers you want. :)

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