Nell Zink explains how she found the confidence to kick off a sparkling literary career in her fifties.

Huck’s Fiftieth Anniversary Special collects lessons learned and creative advice from fifty of the most inspiring people we know. Each day we’ll be sharing a new excerpt from the magazine. Today, Nell Zink explains how she found the confidence to kick off a sparkling literary career in her fifties.

#33 – Nell Zink

For Nell Zink, life started at fifty. That was last year when, seemingly out of nowhere, her first novel The Wallcreeper was published by a little-known indie press called The Dorothy Project and outsold expectations (her’s especially), making the New York Times’ Best Books of 2014 list and the Best Book of 2014 at Dazed and Confused. So, why did she wait so long?

“There was nothing holding me back there was just nothing pushing me forward. It was very definitely an ambition, it was a dream, but it seemed utterly unattainable. As it does for many people. […] When you’re young you look in the mirror and you say, ‘Okay, I’m not Catherine Deneuve.’ And you think, well maybe I won’t leave the house because I just don’t look good enough. It’s a self-image problem. And it’s the same way for a writer – you’re reading books that are extremely good, Catherine Deneuve-level good, and the stuff you’re writing yourself is not remotely that good. So you compare yourself to the greatest books ever written. […] But it’s all relative. You have to position yourself in an existing field. That’s what working artists do. When an artist comes out of the closet and puts their head in the ring you have to figure out, what genre am I writing, and how good am I in this genre? And sometimes you’re better than you think.”

This is just a short excerpt from Huck’s Fiftieth Special, a collection of fifty personal stories from fifty inspiring lives.

Grab a copy now to read all fifty stories in full. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss another issue.