When I was in college I took a course in creative writing. The instructor, a forty-ish PhD grad student who wore paisley shirts, sported a handle bar moustache and lived in a renovated barn never liked my work. He said I wrote well, but “I wasn’t far out enough“. I was disappointed, but not discouraged. The class was pass/fail. I passed.
It was 1969. But I kept on. Sometimes I’d be riding on a bus and flatten out a used paper bag or a napkin and scribbled whatever came to mind. Song lyrics, little ditties, vignettes, ideas. Sometimes I wrote in small cheapo lined notebooks. Never really thought I would ever do anything with what I wrote, but it was a compulsion, you see. I had to do it. It was for me a catharsis of sorts.
Fast forward forty years later after a successful, highly fulfilling and ever-consuming career in academic medicine. I decided to go formal. Took a night course at a community college 14 years ago. The instructor was in his seventies. Quirky. Highly enthusiastic. Encouraging. Little did I know this would be the beginning of my “second chapter.”
I wrote my first story. Read it to the class out loud. They liked it. The instructor encouraged me to submit it to a literary journal. I did. Over ten times. No luck.
I was still working as a physician. Wrote late into the night. Wrote another piece. After submitting it nearly forty times to different literary journals, it was accepted. I was 62 years old.