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Jessica Ramsey Golden: In Praise of Late-Bloomers

49 Writers - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 7:00am
Raymond Chandler
You're going to love this. Listen:
“A large black and gold butterfly fishtailed in and landed on a hydrangea bush almost at my elbow, moved its wings slowly up and down a few times, then took off heavily and staggered away through the motionless hot scented air.”
What better way to describe the flight of a butterfly?
It is an immaculately constructed sentence. As complex and spare as the framework of a cathedral.
If that sentence doesn't kick your chest open, I feel sorry for you.
Here's the thing:
The man who wrote that sentence published his first novel when he was 45 years old.
He wrote this too:
“He swept the room with a raking glance. His smile nailed on.”
Prose so tight, it would stop bullets.
If you've ever seen a Coen Brothers film or enjoyed “The Usual Suspects”, you've witnessed some of Raymond Chandler's far-reaching influence.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must point out Chandler was very much a product of his time. His novels are rife with racist, sexist language.
And he is a brilliant novelist.
When you read his books, you re-read whole scenes just because the dialog is so snappy you can't wait to hear it again. Or you turn to your long-suffering spouse and say, “Listen to this sentence!”
It's breathtaking.
And did I mention he published his first book at the age of 45?
That's important.
At least, it's important to me.
You see, I'm turning 35 this month.
For women, at every birthday starting at 30, when you tell someone how old you're turning, they suck in air between their teeth and gently ask, "How are you feeling about that?"
I'm okay with my age.
It's my productivity that worries me.
I've been writing fiction for 3 years, and so far all I have to show for it is one unpublished manuscript, two short stories, and two messes still under construction. 
To edify myself I've started to collect Late Bloomers like our dear Mr. Chandler.
Here's some more:
Toni Morrison wrote her first novel when she was 39.

Isabel Allende published her first novel at 40.
Maya Angelou was 41.
Dante was, most likely, at least 50 when he penned the Inferno.
Ricky Gervais quit his job to start writing comedy at 38.
Of this Gervais has said, “It's never too late. But start now.”
Prodigies are well and good. But there's something to be said for stamina. Especially in writing, a field with an alarming rate of self-destruction.
Don’t get me wrong. When I see some whiz kid making good, it’s not that I resent the little darling.
But there is comfort in knowing that we don't all make it up the hill in the first 20, 30, or even 40 years.
I've known since I was 8 years old that I wanted to write fiction. Then I wasted a lot of years saying I wanted to be writer, but not writing. I had excuses. Completing school. Having babies. Raising babies. Working.
You can waste a lifetime waiting for the right time.
Me, I've started. So I'm closer than I was 5 years ago.
Dreams take work.
It can't be instant pudding for everyone.
It's never too late.
But start.

Jessica Ramsey Golden’s poetry has appeared in such journals as The William and Mary Review, Orbis International, Calyx, and Cirque. In 2006 she was awarded the Eleanor B. North Poetry Prize. In 2009, she received an Individual Artist Award from the Rasmuson Foundation. In 2011, she began writing fiction. She is currently drafting a science fiction project, while seeking representation for her literary Gothic novel, The Hidden Door.

Categories: Arts & Culture

Local birthdays

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 4:29am
August 13

Football isn't everything in August

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 4:29am
This time of year is great. Almost all the important seasons merge to create a fanatical bonanza that can both entertain and feed.

Meals with Midgi: Special s'mores for a special occasion

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 4:29am
Last Sunday, my dear friend Elizabeth marked a milestone birthday. To celebrate, she wanted to have a picnic at Eagle Beach with her special girlfriends. I was thrilled to be included in this amazing group of women.

Fish Factor: Republicans back Pebble at state debate

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 4:29am
Breached mine tailings dams be damned! As millions of Fraser River sockeye salmon head for spawning beds polluted by a brew of metal toxins oozing from the Mount Polley gold/copper mine disaster in British Columbia, Republican candidates vying for US Senate want environmental regulators to butt out of Alaska's mining development decisions.

Derby Delight

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 4:29am
The Territorial Sportsmen, Inc. board was scheduled to make the final tally of the fish caught in the 68th annual Golden North Salmon Derby on Tuesday, but by press time, the unofficial winner of the derby is Juneau's Max Mielke.

Doctor Fermento: Alaskan Brewing hits TV with 'Brewdogs'

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 4:29am
A couple of weeks ago, I found out that the legendary BrewDogs of Brewdog Ltd. of Scotland were up here filming for their Esquire Network show called (not surprisingly) "Brew Dogs." The show is in its second season and enjoying an excellent following among beer lovers and even non-beer lovers because of the antics of these brewers when they tromp the globe to immerse themselves in local beer culture. They produce a beer wherever they end up.

If you could visit any place or time in history, where and when would you go?

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 4:28am
"July 4, 1776, to witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence. ... plus, there's an ongoing debate about a period. I could answer that."

Juneau and Southeast event calendar

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 4:25am
Events in Juneau and Southeast Alaska this week

Comic: Seafaring Screwballs

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 4:06am
This week's Seafaring Screwballs comic, by Forrest Dobson.

Fish out of water: For some fishermen, catching is the easy part

Capital City Weekly - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 11:55pm
It’s a lot of fun catching fish during the Territorial Sportsmen’s Golden North Salmon Derby, but the work doesn’t stop when you reel them in.

At Golden North derby, the anglers change but the fish don’t

Capital City Weekly - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 11:54pm
Whatever your reason for or history with fishing, if the strategies fishermen told us are any indication, the fish are deep — and mysterious.

Unplugged: What happens when the Internet goes out in Southeast Alaska?

Capital City Weekly - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 11:50pm
Look under the surface of Cross Sound, south of Glacier Bay National Park, and you’ll find Facebook. Google is there, too, as is the picture of the cat you just posted on Instagram.

The Northwest Coast Weavers Supply

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 11:09am

Louet yarns held in small hand-woven cedar bark baskets – “The Coppers” Chilkat robe limited-edition block print by David Svenson, 1984

The Northwest Coast Weavers Supply ( online shop has been launched !!!  This is THE online source we have all needed!  This is our one-stop shop to buy Ravenstail or Chilkat warp and the best commercially-spun 100% merino weft yarns by company-brand “Louet” — will also begin carrying looms (for local delivery only), loom bags, no-sap cedar bark (bark is boiled to remove sap for splitting to spin with your wool), merino wool roving, and instruction books.  And within the year, will also offer other items for sale such as cloth covers, tote bags, mugs, greeting cards, warp sticks, embellishment items, etc.

Owned and operated by Lily Hope in Juneau, Alaska, place your order now on line for your weaving projects or classes by clicking here or give Lily a call on her cell at:  907-957-8378

Categories: Arts & Culture


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