The Long Haul

I look forward to peaking in my 50s

Ria Tagulinao

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Photo by Mikhail Nilov

“I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” other writers would say. I always have mixed feelings when I hear this. One part of me is genuinely awed by their luck, by that rare sense of certainty over what one wants or is meant to do in life. The other part of me, however, can’t help but feel like a late bloomer. Why couldn’t that have happened to me? Why couldn’t I have known sooner that I wanted to write, too?

But I know that now. I know I want to be a writer. But I also realize now that I don’t actually want to be a writer.

What I mean is, despite realizing that writing is my thing, despite seeing the different ways you can now be a full-time writer whilst supporting the lifestyle you want (Should I be a freelancing, ghostwriting digital nomad? A self-employed writer with an online empire? A self-published Amazon author? Maybe do all three?) — I don’t feel the need to be a writer by profession. Not anymore. Or perhaps not now.

I have a few reasons for this. But there is one particular breakthrough I’d like to share for its broader implications on my life. Moreover, I love how the paradigm shift feels refreshingly antithetical to today’s narratives. (I’ll dive into this later on.)

This breakthrough was, amusingly, precipitated by a tweet. I can’t for the life of me find it anymore, but it goes something like this: “People become writers because it is one of the few professions where it’s normal to peak in your 50s.”

No truer words have been said, replied other writers. This tweet now lives rent-free in my head.

I used to be so worried that I was selling myself short by not fully pursuing the writing life. I could be writing books now if I really wanted to get published early. But over time, I’ve become increasingly convinced that I don’t have to make writing my main or only thing — because, as the tweet reassures, I have time.

It’s hard to say that without coming off as if I’m taking it for granted. Like “I don’t think I’m going to die tomorrow, so I’ll just put this on the back burner.” But that’s not it. Where I’m coming from is my confidence in this: I’m going to write for the rest of my life.

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Ria Tagulinao

Fun-sized Filipina Writer | To stay up-to-date with my work, here's my Sunday newsletter: http://riatagulinao.substack.com