Thursday, April 23, 2009

Do it in your twenties!

And I'm talking about something more than making babies.

My biggest mistake in life, I can say without regret and from the perspective of sixty-two years completed, was not throwing myself into a "literary career" while I was still in my twenties, rather than now, as I am doing, in my sixties.

You have to do the thing you love when you are in your 20s because no matter how much or how little you make at the time you start that career, it sets the tone for your life's work, no matter how long you live.

If you are ever going to make any money in your life -- and I mean big money -- you have to start making it in your twenties even if the money then doesn't feel like "big" money.

This is the advice I have given my daughters, and it comes from the experience of having chosen to work for pennies in my early business career as a journalist, and never having been able to move up through the salary ranks during a 40-year career as a writer.

If it sounds like I'm whining, perhaps I am. But what I'm really whining about is my choice to pursue journalism as a day job while trying to practice my craft of writing literature on the side.

If I could have done it -- and that's still entirely a matter of speculation -- I should have concentrated on making my reputation as a writer of literature when I was young, unmarried, and could afford to be poor.

Had I established a reputation then, my income over the years might have risen much higher.

Of course, it's all a crap shoot.

My non-fiction books, short stories, poems and novels (if I ever get one written) could just as easily have not sold when I was young as they are not selling now.

But at least then I could have kicked myself in the ass at age 40 and done something more lucrative.

As I said, I have no regrets. I still like myself, and, had I done things differently, I might not have emerged into my sixties feeling that way at all.

So to all you young people: Make your choices whatever way you decide you must. Just remember the advice of an old man who has been there:

Do it in your twenties!

(This is Chapter Two of a book I am writing online called : "Traitor to Myself." It's intended to be about some of the lessons I have learned in life.)


  1. Good morning Hoss,

    The 20"s advice might be good for today. I really can not say with any real observance on my part.

    I still feel the emphasis of 20 to 30, give or take a few, should betrying to determine not only what you might enjoy doing for awhile but balancing the pleasure with the pain. Money will always be important but managing it is just a important. Many of the youth I come upon want it all and right now. The whole idea that less is better never crosses their minds.

    I learned in my early 30's that "it is not how much you make but what you get to keep"!!!

    Many times this requires more creativity than you average person cares to exercise. Stability has left the work place 20 years ago for a variety of reasons. Many of which would open a strong debate betwen us so I won't go there.

    I still believe a "specialized skill" needs to be discovered within onself and that skill needs to be honed. When doing so the big money tends to arrive later than earlier in life. Not everyone can start a "dotcom" or get rich on "green technology". The concept of taking a good idea and making it 10% better has always intriqued me. That is where all the hughed $$$ has been made.

    I always wanted to be a male stripper in a gay bar. The tips would be unbelievable. When my hot days of dancing would be over I knew i could make the "big iron" working the gay club circuit selling just about anything product they were inclined to buy. That's where the real cash would be found. Contacts, connections and a reputation of being one who was trusted.

    Never fulfilled my dream but applied the concepts elsewhere and did OK.

    You need to step "out of the box" and let the juices flow. A few failures puts you closer to success.

    Talk again soon...ed

  2. Thanks, Ed. I didn't know about the gay-bar dream, and I bet not many of your friends did. It does sound like a good idea. Sorry most of these postings have been about Colorado and local politics. But I thank you for still reading. The piece about the "twenties" is part of an online book I'm writing at this site, and I appreciate your feedback. Tell your friends and keep on visiting.