Is it too late for your dreams?

Steven Barnes
4 min readAug 29, 2023

I remember thirty years ago talking to Leo and Diane Dillon, the wonderful husband-wife art team, friends of Harlan. I had lunch with them in Greenwich Village many years ago. I thought I wanted to talk to them about my first wife’s artistic ambitions. I was wrong. In the presence of these wonderful artists, I realized I felt like a fraud. That I had made choices, based on survival, that were not true expressions of my being. They were about survival.

And as I spoke to them, I started weeping. And then sobbing. I felt that I’d wandered off the true path. “Hollywood is like a hill made of bullshit with a rose at the top. By the time you finish climbing…you’ve lost your sense of smell”. I forget who said that. But EVERY external human endeavor is like this. Everyone must sacrifice options to focus, but if you aren’t careful, you’ll sacrifice the very things you need to enjoy the journey: love, integrity, health, connection, contribution.

I felt I’d lost myself. “Is it too late for me?” I said through tear-blurred eyes. And these wonderful people smiled gently at me, and Dianne reached across the table and took my hands. “If you can even ask that question, Steve…its not too late.”

And with those words, I was made whole. Anyone who wonders why I spend an hour every day teaching people has only to consider how blessed I’ve been with mentors, and understand that all I can do to thank them is be the best person I can be, and pay it forward.

What I was asking was: is it too late for me to be the best writer I can be? Honest, successful, exploring new arenas, genuinely expressing my deepest self to the limits of my capacity?

Everything I”d done HAD been on that path. HAD been heading to the same destination. I simply had to take the detours appropriate for my journey. But I had to humble myself and admit I was scared at the compromises I’d made.

But I’d done the best I could, with the resources I had. The Hero’s Journey understood this: Leon and Diane were allies on my journey, further down the path, and from their perspective, they knew EXACTLY what I needed to hear.

It wasn’t too late. Its NEVER too late, not for what your soul desires, which is full expression, in THIS moment, which is the only moment that exists.

On Sept 23, Tananarive and I will be bringing everything we have to help students find their path. All there is is the path. The time you spend…



Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.