In Our Own Time

“It’s too early for most things and too late for almost nothing.”

Is that a great quote, or what? I don’t know who first uttered those words, but each time I bring them to mind I am filled with fresh resolve.

We’re all brought up on a time table, expected to accomplish certain things at certain ages: walking at twelve months; talking by the age of two; driver’s license at sixteen; high school diploma at seventeen. The more time that passes before these hurdles are cleared, the higher they seem to become.

Writing, a chosen pursuit, carries no such expectations. Some authors, canny enough to make a living off their words, must mind their contracts and calendars. For the rest of us, writing is a labor of love and we proceed in our own time, rewarded or not.

Unfettered by demand for my words, I still worry now and then that I haven’t written enough of them. I consider the prodigious outputs of Joyce Carol Oates and John Updike, or the early success of Michael Chabon, or the sheer brilliance of Yann Martel, and I feel like a hopeless straggler.

Fortunately this wasteful brooding passes quickly. Life gives me a nudge and I am back where I belong. I remember the story I’ve started and there is nothing to do but pick up my pen and continue working. There are millions of writers in this world and there is room for every one of us. No one can write this story but me.

Published by

Jean Ryan

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Napa, California. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She has also published a novel, LOST SISTER. Her short story collections, SURVIVAL SKILLS and LOVERS AND LONERS, are available online. STRANGE COMPANY, a collection of short nature essays, is available in paperback as well as digital and audio editions.

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