I’m a Prime Writer. This past month, I’ve been the guest curator for The Prime Writers, a lovely collection of writers who are all “in their prime”, meaning we all published our first novels over the age of 40. So what? Age is just a number, and we are a nice contrast to all those “best of” lists for those under 40 or 30 or 12. (The Telegraph’s even in on the act, citing Mary Wesley – and the Prime Writers.)
In today’s blog post, I wrapped up a series on “what made a difference” – what were the most important steps that got our writers from aspiring to published. Was it pursuing an MA that led them to an agent? Was it a professional course that got them to an editor? There are links to the whole month’s worth of blog posts about all the different ways we got to where we wanted to be, but, in this last post, we also talk about maybe the most important writing tool of all – grit: the ability to keep going, even when it looks like you’ll never finish your book or find the team who can help you realise your papery dreams. True grit.
Age is just a number…
Not necessarily… I think we say it is, to convince ourselves we have time. Other people say it to us, in order to ‘reassure’ us. The truth is, age is how old we are & once we get to be over sixty, if we are pursuing that first, still-elusive book deal, age can feel like a millstone.
I’ve read ‘Wild Mary,’ Patrick Marnham’s marvellous biography of Mary Wesley & although her story is inspirational, it isn’t without its pain & despair. Writing ‘Jumping the Queue’ was part of the climb out of a very dark place for her.
I secured my own first deal this year & next year, at the age of 72, I will be published. Because I didn’t give up & someone decided I was worth it. It’s brilliant & amazing & I am blessed. At the same time, I am every day reminded that the next three books (who knew?) I have tangled in my hair require time – to write, edit, re-write (& so forth) – before they will even be considered for publication.
I love being 71 – it’s as good as it gets but it isn’t 41 – with the time that that implies. If I’m vaguely in with a chance of doing even a third of a ‘Mary’ I’m going to have to keep up.
Age isn’t a number; it’s a reality.
I have, I must say, enjoyed everything I’ve read on all the Prime Writers threads. You are also inspirational & quite splendid. Save a place for me – I’ll be joining you next year!
Hi Carol –
Congratulations on your book deal! That is a massive achievement, at any age. And I do still think age is only a number. At any age, we don’t know how much “time we have” and younger writers have their own challenges. Age is a reality, but what does it really mean? I feel, at my ripe old age, that my life and my days are completely my own and, in that, I am lucky. We start wherever we are. Let’s go!
Yes. Of course I agree with you, Peggy – no one knows what is round the corner (& I am a huge champion of young writers.) The industry is tough on us all! One’s attitude does change though, as one gets older. Not ‘being’ older – that’s fine. It’s time itself – whipping by! Like you, I’m fortunate – my days are my own & I can choose, which is a blessing.
‘We start wherever we are.’ That’s my new quote of choice!
Ooh, I do like a new quote of choice!