How long could tacky take?

Posted 10/18/23

Starting a writing career as an older author was a challenge with that niggling urge to play catch up, to soothe a psyche that fretted over lost time.

A talented writer friend mentioned she was …

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How long could tacky take?


Starting a writing career as an older author was a challenge with that niggling urge to play catch up, to soothe a psyche that fretted over lost time.

A talented writer friend mentioned she was becoming more and more disenchanted with her day job. She was a successful Realtor but wanted to be a successful full-time writer.

I knew where she was coming from. At the time I, too, was still tied to a day job far from my calling. We were both published writers, but her newsletter subscriptions and my hit and miss essays weren’t paying the bills.

Over coffee one day my dignified buddy made a suggestion. “We’re not getting any younger,” she said. “Why don’t we collaborate on a steamy romance novel. You know how they sell. How long could it take to write tacky? We’d be full-time in-demand authors and in the money before the ink was dry.”

The woman had a quirky sense of humor and apparently she wasn’t alone, because I agreed. The plan was to each write an initial first chapter and then compare notes and pick a solid direction for our sizzling project.

 I stared at the blank computer screen for quite a while before lighting a passionflower candle, pouring a glass of wine, and finally conjuring up an almost sensual sentence. My palms were sweaty, breathing labored, heart pounding.

I wrote another one. The nausea was building. By the third sentence I was tense with anxiety. I hit delete, ran to the kitchen for a second glass of wine, then on to the bathroom to scrub my skin raw in a cleansing bath. Think I would have had a cigarette if I still smoked.

My almost writing partner was not disappointed when I shared my feeble, unsuccessful attempt at smut. She had signed off on the idea after typing her first three words.

We had both come too far in personal growth to get derailed by false pretenses. What we wrote had to be the truest form of who we were. And while we’d likely never be wealthy writers, we felt rich beyond words for having followed our hearts and heads and didn’t cave in to an overnight sordid success story.

My real estate agent friend passed away a number of years ago, but not before writing a great novel, and I just celebrated 28 years of successful full-time writing. 

I look back with pride and appreciation. I stuck to creating the good stuff that took tons of editing and many rewrites, words and stories that followed a writing goal I had established after graduating from a challenging university writing program.

From my first essay to every column, every feature story, each of my books I worked to have my words add to the life and health of the community.

The older I get the happier I am with my choices. I like to think that aging cultivates living simply, graciously, creatively, honestly. I still write part-time, always keeping in mind the goal of adding to the life and health of my readers.

I also dabble in nature printing. Sharing our art in these interesting senior years when there are memories to investigate, experiences to honor, talents to uncover is a limitless spiritual journey. What a wonderful time to explore and grow, to step back and see with an open heart, to revel in possibilities.

No, it doesn’t take long to write tacky, but us oldies have so much more to offer. What artistic talents are waiting for you to identify, to nurture, to age into?

Carole Marshall is a former columnist, feature writer for a national magazine, and author of three books. Her writing focus today is on sharing the often daunting, often fun process of aging in good spirits. She is Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma to some spectacular kids.