At age 23, Tina Fey was working at a YMCA.
At age 23, Oprah was fired from her first reporting job.
At age 24, Stephen King was working as a janitor and living in a trailer.
At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh failed as a missionary and decided to go to art school.
At age 28, J.K. Rowling was a suicidal single parent living on welfare.
At age 28, Wayne Coyne (from The Flaming Lips) was a fry cook.
At age 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter.
At age 30, Martha Stewart was a stockbroker.
At age 37, Ang Lee was a stay-at-home-dad working odd jobs.
Julia Child released her first cookbook at age 39, and got her own cooking show at age 51.
Vera Wang failed to make the Olympic figure skating team, didn’t get the Editor-in-Chief position at Vogue, and designed her first dress at age 40.
Stan Lee didn’t release his first big comic book until he was 40.
Alan Rickman gave up his graphic design career to pursue acting at age 42.
Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his first movie role until he was 46.
Morgan Freeman landed his first MAJOR movie role at age 52.
Kathryn Bigelow only reached international success when she made The Hurt Locker at age 57.
Grandma Moses didn’t begin her painting career until age 76.
Louise Bourgeois didn’t become a famous artist until she was 78.
You've probably read something similar to this list at some point. Or maybe you've read the rejection letters your favorite authors received before hitting it big. I don't know about you, but seeing the fact that Samuel L. Jackson didn't get his first movie role until he was 46 is shocking to me. It seems like he has always been famous. What is it about hearing that hugely successful people were once just "people with a dream?" I think it has something to do with the fact that they're living proof that dreams can come true, no matter how old you are or how long you've been plugging away.
As writers and creatives, we tend to get mired down in the work of it all. We obsess about every single word we write making sure it is perfect. If we're not writing, we read about writing, read our favorite novels to study writing, or study deeper into our current book topic to make sure we have the best insight with which we can provide our readers. In the midst of all this work, we forget to look up and take a minute to look back at how far we've come on this journey. Yes, there will always be miles ahead for us to conquer, but the sweetness of the miles behind us on the rugged pathway we've traveled have made us the writers we are today.
So today, I'm giving you permission to take a breath, pour a fresh cup of coffee, and take a few minutes to congratulate yourself on how far you've come. You've earned it!