Finding Success, Well Past the Age of Wunderkind

Lucille Shulklapper started writing in retirement and has published poetry and a children’s book called “Stuck in Bed Fred.” (Ryan Stone for The New York Times)

Lucille Shulklapper started writing in retirement and has published poetry and a children’s book called “Stuck in Bed Fred.” (Ryan Stone for The New York Times)

By Abby Ellin
March 20, 2015—The New York Times

As a girl growing up in Jamaica, Queens, Lucille Gang Shulklapper dreamed of being a writer and “having a househusband like Edna St. Vincent Millay.”

Life didn’t unfold quite that way. Instead of having a literary career, she married, took a teaching job and raised three children. She wrote off and on, mostly for herself. But when she retired in her late 50s, “words came tumbling out of closets and drawers, leaking from rusty faucets and reappearing as character actors,” said Ms. Shulklapper, now 80. She began sending out poems and short stories, and published her first book of poetry in 1996, when she was 60.

Since then, she has published four chapbooks, which are typically small editions of 40 pages or so, and a fifth is in progress. And in January, Guardian Angel Publishing released Ms. Shulklapper’s first children’s book, “Stuck in Bed Fred.”

“We absolutely have to revamp this idea of a linear pattern of accomplishment that ends when you’re 50 or 60”

“I am living beyond my dreams,” said Ms. Shulklapper, a widowed grandmother of six who lives in Boca Raton, Fla. “I feel as though it’s my baby. A long pregnancy and now its delivery, all 10 toes and fingers.”

Conventional wisdom holds that if you do not write your “Farewell to Arms,” paint your “Starry Night,” start the next Twitter or climb Mount Everest by young adulthood, or at least middle age, then chances are you will never do it.

But that idea is becoming increasingly outdated as people are not only having successes later in life, but blooming in areas they never expected. Maybe they are not making millions, or wielding a brush like Rembrandt. Still, many people are discovering that the latter part of their lives can be just as (or even more) rewarding creatively, emotionally and spiritually.

Read the rest of this article here.

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