Late Bloomer Guest Post
Late Bloomers are guest blog posts at A is for Aging—sharing thoughts and insights from individuals who have launched notable creative efforts in the arts in their Third Age.
Gloria Amescua is the late blooming author of a picture book biography coming from Abrams Books for Young Readers coming August 17, 2021.
I’m thrilled that at age seventy-four my lifelong dream of being an author is coming true. Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua is available August 2021! It is a picture book biography in verse.
Luz Jiménez was a Nahua woman, an indigenous people of Mexico. She modeled for famous artists in Mexico in the early 20th century. Luz represented “the spirit of Mexico” and helped scholars record historical stories of her people and community.
I grew up in the country outside Austin, Texas. I was a shy curious kid, constantly thinking about everything around me. Often I would climb into an old oak tree in our yard to read and dream about faraway places.
Books were my passage to other worlds.
The bookmobile van that stopped across the road during the summer was a treasure. I can still feel the motor vibration, the cool air in the van, and the thrill of the search for books. I would leave with a towering stack that I could barely carry every two weeks.
Neighbors gave us a ten-volume set of British and American poetry. At about nine I didn’t understand most of the poetry, but there was a four-line poem, “Outwitted” by Edwin G. Markham that changed my life. I was astounded—those four lines said so much about love taking someone in, even though they tried to shut you out.
I started writing my thoughts and poetry in a little brown notebook. I’ve been writing ever since and I still remember my first poem:
I’m brown not from the sun
but from my birth.
I’m like a sunflower growing
through a crack in the earth.
As a kid and teenager, I struggled with feeling I didn’t fit in. I was a Mexican-American in Texas who grew up not speaking Spanish.
My long writing journey
As an adult I worked on regaining my culture and language. Throughout many roles in Texas education, including director of secondary language arts for a school district, I wrote poetry.
In 1996, I met Anjela Villarreal Ratliff who created a poetry group for Latinos. We created chapbooks, did readings, submitted to journals and created workshops. We also participated in local Austin poetry conferences and readings.
Then I was accepted into CantoMundo, a national group supporting Latinx poets. One of my poems was chosen for a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt national language arts textbook.
What caused me to add writing books for kids? My granddaughters! Back when they were three and six, and I was sixty-five, I wrote a picture book for them about shadows. I used photos of them and they loved it, but it wasn’t good. In 2012 I started taking courses at The Writing Barn, joined SCBWI and began learning the craft of picture books.
In early 2013, at sixty-six, I wrote my first prose draft about, Luz Jiménez. Years earlier, I had first read about Luz and was intrigued. Then in 2016, during a course in nonfiction I was encouraged to write the manuscript in verse.
I won the Lee & Low 2016 New Voices Honor Award! But it took until 2019 and many revisions to find an agent, then get an offer to publish from Abrams Books. From first draft to publication took eight years! I have other picture books waiting in the wings. I’m thrilled that award-winning illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh illustrated my debut picture book!
Enjoying life as a late bloomer!
I’ve been enjoying life along the way—dancing, traveling, camping and photography. New adventures as well as new writing friends and supporters.
I met my partner at sixty-one after being single for twenty-three years. We’ve dropped from a rope into a deep cenote and zip lined in Cancun, Mexico. We’ve hiked and rappelled into a canyon to view pictographs and more. It’s never too late to be blooming!
(Note: All photos provided by Gloria Amescua and used with permission.)
Late Bloomers defy age stereotypes and help show us the way to tap into our creativity using life experience, energy and positive attitudes.
“Creativity keeps us fresh, keeps us alive, keeps us moving forward.”
(Rollo May, psychotherapist and author of Courage to Create.)
Find more posts by Late Blooming writers here.
Find Gloria Amescua at her website,
on Twitter: @GloriaAmescua