It goes like this: I’m watching a movie I haven’t seen in ages (in the most recent case: Home Alone), and I look up the cast on IMDB or Google (My wife and I do this constantly). I tend to zero in on actors I’ve heard of, or know I’ve seen in other films, but can’t quite remember. This time around, I land on John Heard’s page.

And then I see the word that always makes me a little sad.

“John Heard, Jr. was…”


Past tense.

That person isn’t going to create for the world anymore. They are no longer in this world. They have passed away. A year has been placed on the wrong side of the dash — the one that means “the end.”

It always brings me down when I see this; some more devastating than others (Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, Alan Rickman). Even if I didn’t know much about them, I know they can no longer do what they loved.

Now, you may ask: Joseph, what does this have to do with your writing?

Well, pull up a seat, have some coffee (or tea, or water, whichever), and let me tell you.

I’ve wanted to write my entire life, like many of you. I have various stories from my earlier years still on my hard drive (As my friend Meg Trast would say: COLD. DEAD. HANDS). But I put off seriously pursuing this dream until last year, when I was 34 years old. I had many reasons not to, some of which were perfectly legitimate. But I finally stumbled into a moment where I shrugged, decided to give it a go, and off I went.

Have I been published? Not yet. But I have two first drafts (one ever so close to being finished) I’ve put together in the last calendar year which I can clean up and polish. In addition, I have this blog, as well as nearly countless friends on Twitter and Instagram I’ve met through my endeavors to craft stories.

Now, numerous people at a similar stage in life as mine worry constantly that they waited too long to jump in. Many of whom decide it’s too late to try — perhaps they’ve just missed the boat, and it’s time to give up on that dream.

I’m here to tell you: NOPE.

The writing world is full of success stories from people that hit it big in their later stages of life. I could fill entire pages of people who were published well past my age. But more to the point: I’m still here. Any sentence that starts with my name would still be followed by “is.” I haven’t met my “was” yet. And so I intend to keep on pursuing this goal of being a published writer.

Who knows what I can accomplish before the sentence “Joseph Donne was…” exists. The only way to find out is if I sit myself down and do it.

What will you do before your “was”?

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