Saturday, 28 April 2012

Y is for Young

There is an assumption that new writers are young. In fact, my university has just written a nice piece about me for a forthcoming magazine, and the author comes to the same conclusion, adding: 'The future looks bright for this young novelist and the MA Creative and Critical Writing course goes from strength to strength.' Young? I looked over my recent reading of debut novelists: Emma Darwin (over 40), Bernie McGill (over 40), and the competition winner, Rosie Garland, is my age.

Imaginatively, I can write from the perspective of man or woman, child or adult: hell, one of BT 2's characters is inanimate. But as I get older it is easier to write about things I remember, and when I was in my twenties I found it hard to imagine being older. I fell into stereotypes of older people because I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be, say, fifty. (I thought it would all be about teapots and slippers). There's a rash of books set in the sixties and seventies at the moment, and I wonder if it's because a lot of new writers grew up in those decades. Unlike that young me, I know what it's like to be young and middle-aged. I can see old age just ahead. And my writing, I'm glad to say, is getting better, partly because I have read so much more.

You don't have to be young to be a novelist, you have to imagine and write. I'm off to brew a pot of Earl Grey and snuggle into my slippers...

6 comments:

  1. Hello Rebecca. This is so true. I wonder if older writers will face discrimination when their ms is read - perhaps they'll imagine anyone over 40 would be too decrepid to do a tour?

    I was delighted to find some novels by Sybil Marshall, who writes delightfully of the English fells. Her first novel was published when she was 80 and she managed to pump quite a few out after that. I think she must have had a drawer full!

    Thanks for following my blog!

    Denise

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    1. Hi Denise, I just enjoyed Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. She was born in 1920 and is still writing, so it's definitely possible to keep writing well into what we think of as 'retirement years'. When I got my agent, age didn't appear to come into it, no-one asked. Maybe this is a bigger issue in the press than it is in publishing!

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  2. Fabulous post. People always assume I'm quite young too, because I'm just getting out there in the writing world and I have a toddler. I'd love to have the energy of my youth, though! Lovely blog and I love the name of it. New follower from the A to Z Challenge. :)

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  3. What a fantastic story on your blog! I'm a new follower today...My children range from 26 down to 13 so people found it hard to place me when Rosie was little! Like you, I wish I had the energy of the young, chasing a little one around all day. Glad to meet another young-at-heart writer.

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  4. Writers come from all backgrounds, whether they are young or older. What's important is that the determination and ideas are there. I don't think anyone's age should make them feel limited in going for their publishing dreams.

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    1. Absolutely. I suspect age and experience may even make for better writers.

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