“It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been”


Mary Anne Evans once wrote “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

And she did become what she should have been. She became the novelist George Eliot, choosing a man’s pen name to ensure her works were taken seriously. Arguably the greatest novelist of the Victorian era, George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) penned a novel that’s always on lists of the world’s best novels: Middlemarch, my favorite.

Her humor sneaks up on us: “And, of course men know best about everything, except what women know better.”

And she gives us stunning new ways of seeing an old world. “If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”

But most of all I love the persistence that shines out of “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

Last week, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance event, Crime Wave, treated its participants to tools we can use so we are not “too late” to write something wonderful.

Our panel on publishing options: Gerry Boyle (standing), Lea Wait, Jen Blood, me, William Andrews.

Even though I was on a panel to discuss various ways authors get published (in a world where traditional publishing is almost out of reach), I took notes on how I might persist and carry on despite sometimes feeling it may be “too late.”

Here I will share some of what we shared.

I said that Hope Clark’s “FundsForWriters” is an award-winning site with tips, lists of contests to enter, and grants to apply for. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/163bde15370662b1?compose=163c61d2de221adb

Jane Friedman has a chart that defines the pros and cons of various publishing paths. https://www.janefriedman.com/key-book-publishing-path/  

Jane also has excellent book and book business advice; I never miss her newsletter. Sign up. https://www.janefriedman.com/

Author Jen Blood http://jenblood.com/ (also a Maine Crime Writers blogger) suggested people seeking editors and professional aid on their publishing journeys go to https://reedsy.com/

Jen also wanted folks to know about Joanna Penn’s writing and publishing assistance at https://www.thecreativepenn.com/

Author Lea Wait replied to a marketing question by saying that developing a mailing list and then making personal communications to it was the most important thing an author could do. https://www.leawait.com/

I asked author Kate Flora  for nuggets she shared with her “Point of View” craft seminar and she generously sent this message:

“So, with my POV class, I suggested an exercise to test their point of view comfort level, which is one I use with my students. Write a paragraph introducing yourself in first person and third person, and see the results of the different points of view. The book I suggested is What If by Pamela Painter and Anne Bernays, which is full of writing exercises.

Doing an exercise is often helpful if you’re stuck in your writing.” https://kateclarkflora.com/

There was just too much great stuff at Crime Wave to get it all down, but I’m glad someone reminded us of Elmore Leonard’s best writing rule, “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” https://www.liferichpublishing.com/AuthorResources/General/Elmore-Leonards-Ten-Rules-Of-Writing.aspx

Pretty much the entire event is dedicated to persistence and to the premise that “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” Please join us next year!

(Here’s a MWPA recap: http://daletphillips.blogspot.com/2018/06/maine-crime-wave-2018.html)

Sandy’s novel, “Deadly Trespass, A Mystery in Maine,” won a Mystery Writers of America award and was a finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest. This year, she’s been nominated for a Maine Literary Award. Find her novel at all Shermans Books and on Amazon. Find more info on the video trailer and Sandy’s website.  The second Mystery in Maine, “Deadly Turn,” will be published in 2018.


About Sandra Neily

Sandy’s novel “Deadly Trespass” received a Mystery Writers of America award, was named a national finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest, a finalist in the Mslexia international novel competition, a runner- up in Maine’s Joy of the Pen competition, and recently, an international SPR fiction finalist. Sandy lives in the woods of Maine and says she’d rather be “fly fishing cold streams, skiing remote trails, paddling near loons, or just generally out there—unless I’m sharing vanishing worlds with my readers. "
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4 Responses to “It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been”

  1. Oh, isn’t this just the best post?
    I’ll be 75 later this year and have had two fulfilling earlier careers. This month, I’n launching my second book and starting my third. (I’m a Massachusetts-based writer, but have a few scenes based in Presque Isle – just up there for research). Have to keep at it – never too late!

    • Sandra Neily says:

      You go Marian. Your reply made my day! I can feel your energy for the challenge. Thanks.

  2. Gram says:

    I stole your Evans quotes and posted them on Facebook…Thanks!

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