In the last year and a half since my Mother died I have thought more about my own mortality. Her death has focused my thoughts on what I want to do with the rest of my life. Even though I am only 55 I think about the fact that I am getting old. I don't want my life accomplishments to be behind me.
I just finished reading John Marshall – Definer of a Nation by Jean Edward SmithOne of the things that really struck me about Marshall and has struck me about all of the biographies I have read in the past couple of years is how many of the accomplishments of these great people happen in the later years of their lives. Granted, these accomplishments are often a culmination of the work of their whole lives. But they also take on new challenges as they get older.
For example in 1826 when Marshall was 71 he accepted an offer to edit the papers of George Washington.
In the McCullough Biography of John Adams Abigail Adams wrote about her husband that "Your father's zeal for books will be one of the last desires which will quit him." …as the 81 year old Adams eagerly embarked on reading a sixteen volume French history."
Adams and Jefferson began an exchange of letters in 1812 when Jefferson was 69 and Adams was 77. Jefferson's biographer R.B. Bernstein describes their correspondence as "one of the great correspondences in the history of American letters". In 1816 Jefferson wrote to Adams, "I steer my bark with Hope in the head, leaving Fear astern."
James Madison was 66 when he worked with Jefferson and Monroe and others to found the University of Virginia.
I like writing, I like history, I like writing this blog. It seems to me that writing the blog is one way to improve my writing through practice. Writing about what I am learning is also a way to learn from my historical reading. I am almost embarrassed to admit it but my dream is to write a historical book one day. I feel like I am just beginning on the learning but this year I want to write more and read more in order to move me toward that end.
I'd love advice on how to improve my writing and accelerate my learning.