A Little Pomp, A Little Circumstance: How I Began a New Writing Career at 60
By: Lisa Goich
I graduated yesterday with a 4.0 from the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. The Writers' Program is one of the most prestigious creative writing and screenwriting continuing education programs in the nation. It was a very moving event. As we stood in the hallway, queued to enter the majestic Royce Hall, the beginning notes of "Pomp and Circumstance" began to play and hit me pretty hard. The tears they were a flowin'! I mean, never would I have expected to have a second chance at a graduation at this point in my life. But here I was, sash and all, walking through the doors of this storied university to gather my scroll and put a period at the end of a four-year adventure.
The majority of the graduates were in their 20s and 30s. It didn't make me feel old. It made me feel proud. Proud that I defied what people expect of people over 50. That we're washed up. That we aren't on top of trends or new ideas. That we stopped learning decades ago. Sorry, but, nope.
Almost 40 years ago I graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Journalism. It served me well. I've had a great career. I've reached milestones. I've set goals and exceeded them. I've followed dreams and conquered them. I'm a five-time published author. I've been blessed to have great jobs with iconic companies for the majority of my career. I spent nearly two decades as a stand-up comedian which probably stunted my corporate trajectory a bit, but it made me a stronger, richer candidate for all the jobs that came after. Once you've stood inside a circle of banquet tables, roasting a complete stranger to people you've never seen in your life, your skin toughens. Oh sure, I've stumbled and fumbled and been humbled along the way. But, overall, It's been a good ride.
But yesterday's event? It opened the door to new beginnings. You see, I'm 60. When people my age are expected to be winding down and preparing for retirement, I'm just winding up! During the program, I fell in love with children's Picture Book writing. With three manuscripts ready to roll, I've begun the querying process to (hopefully) put me on the path to a career that will stall retirement for another 20 or 30 years.
I'm proof that it is NEVER TOO LATE to dream. Never let anyone tell you you're too old, or that you're not relevant anymore. You're wise. You're seasoned. You're f****** smart! You've gathered experience all these years to share and make this world a better place. You. Are. Seen.
I don't know what the next three decades of my career will bring. But in my wildest fantasies, I see myself sitting on a beach in Greece, outside of my home - pen in one hand, feta cheese in the other - staring at the ocean, writing the next "Where the Wild Things Are."
Thank you, UCLA, for offering these programs for people like me who have dreams just waiting to be fulfilled.