Post by Jerry
“Only young writers need submit.” Or so it would seem. Contests and anthologies seek youth; “Five under 35,” or “30 Under 30.” Literary agents blog about publishers wanting younger writers who promise longer term cash flows. Page Lambert, in Connecting People with Nature, challenges the view that writers over 40 have a slim chance of writing anything of merit. “Writers Over 40 Rock,” she counters. Now that I am over 40, and 50, and 60, and Yes, over 70, I thought I might weigh in, just for my superannuated friends – I know you’re out there.
For those who say we can’t, two-words: Norman Maclean, who published his first book, A River Runs Through It at 74. Or Laura Ingalls Wilder publishing Little House at 65.
Why Don’t We Write?
1. So many writers flail about, grasping for identities, testing this and that with words. But in our autumn years, we may have found ourselves, discovered peace in that place, and lost our raging angst, or
2. Perhaps there comes a quiescence, a satiety, at the end of a life well and fully lived. We remember Kristofferson who wrote, “You’re goin’ somewhere, but I’ve been to some-where, and found it was nowhere at all.” At least not somewhere we need to revisit, or
3. In our fifties and beyond, we find ourselves at some pinnacle of power, some apex of authority, or just plain overworked because we are experienced, competent, or both. Who has time to write when imprisoned by a career?
Why Should We Write?
1. Because no one else left our footprints, saw life with our eyes. And what we saw, what we thought, has value. Might there be a hunger out there for what we alone can write? Or,
2. Who else can capture what once was, to burnish it as memoir, and offer it as roots to those who will come after? Our words provide sea anchors in the headlong rush of impetuous change, or
3. There can be great joy in living life a second time around, when words awaken memories and clarity flows from hindsight.
Why Must We Write?
1. Because we all would have our minds outlast our bodies. Our mind, the center post in the canopy of graceful aging, needs the exercise, or
2. Simply because there’s a story inside of us that needs to find its wings. This last, I think, drives most of us.