Famous writers, writing… William Golding

Sometimes I fear that I have missed my chance, that now in my fifties I am too old to be published. And then I remember William Golding who said:
“It wasn’t until I was 37 that I grasped the great truth that you’ve got to write your own books and nobody else’s, and then everything followed from there.”

William Golding
I know that I am now better prepared to write novels – with experience of life, of love, of death, of freedom – than I ever was in my twenties. I want to write what I want to write about.

Read the opening paragraph of Lord of the Flies.

William Golding ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding [UK: Penguin Classics] Buy now

See these other famous people, reading & writing:-
Agatha Christie
Joseph Conrad
Benedict Cumberbatch

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Famous writers, writing… #author William Golding via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-B2


  1. I envy that you studied English literature, and had a career in journalism, because I imagine that puts you miles ahead of us luddite latecomers. When I worked in management, we would have said you had “transferable skills”. Knowing how to load shipping containers might provide some source material for a future novel, but it hardly provides me any street cred for would-be publishers 🙂

    • But our lives give us material for our novels and that makes them richer. And I imagine knowing how to load shipping containers means you are good at organisation and deadlines, and publishers do need professional writers who are businesslike. 🙂 SD

      • Actually, you are so right, and thank you for reminding me of that. And I know stuff about marketing, and I have done presentations to the board so standing up at book launch should not daunt me. LOL. Think I’m putting the cart before the horse with that line of thinking 🙂

  2. I hope Golding is speaking to me.
    If I am late as a writer, at least I can say that I read Lord of the Flies quite young and then Pincher Martin.
    May I be half as good a writer as Golding.

  3. I love this! Very inspirational. And it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, attributed to George Eliot: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

  4. Don’t worry, Sandra – 50 is the new 30! I think the Golding quote is fantastic – yes, experience and perspective in maturity both help, but having the time on your hands to develop your craft is also a benefit.

  5. To quote my favourite novelist George Eliot: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” Annie Proulx’s first novel was published when she was 52, and Wide Sargasso Sea published when Jean Rhys was 76. You can do it!

  6. What an inspirational quote! I loved Lord of the Flies. I’m 51 and feeling like I missed the boat, too. The power of life’s experience–surely that’s why we were meant to write with gusto now. I’ve been writing all my life but feel like my writing is rich with dimension. Don’t you feel it’s not the writing, but the darned publishing industry that’s let us down? It seems virtually impossible to get an agent. Virtually impossible for an agent to pitch your project and have it accepted. Virtually impossible to follow it up with another. Virtually impossible to keep up with the ever-changing markets and that pressing to write for someone else so you CAN get published.
    William Golding’s quote is spot on. You can talk yourself right out of writing in the first place. 😉

    • I think that’s why so many authors are self-publishing. There are signs in the UK that the publishing industry is being forced to change. I have a friend who self-published, sold thousands of books on Amazon, and THEN got picked up by a traditional publisher. So it can be done, but it is very frustrating. I agree with Golding: write what you want to write, don’t worry about trends or genres. SD


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