Of age and lack of grace

On a writer's web-site this morning, one 'Willie' bemoaned the fact that he was about to turn 50 and had failed to make his break-through in the world of books ... 'the world is for the young', he said. This is what I wrote in response...

'Now listen up, Willie! I read your thread with sadness but with unsurprise. Creativity is not the province of any particular age group.

History demonstrates as much all the time and in every single field of non-physical human activity. Having said that, it is unfortunately true that the common mind-set contracts (grows lazier) as experience expands (becomes more useful to the writer). So, if you do have the 'common mind-set' then stick to the gardening, the grand-kids, the state of your own physical health - and to writing purely for the pleasure of it in the misbelief that the world is for those younger, therefore you are excluded. It is not.

You talk of reader demographics but look at any town centre bookshop, any Reader Group. One hell of a lot of grey there. Compare the bookshelves in the home of the average thirty years old to those of the average sixty years old.

Admittedly Agents and Editors are always on the lookout for the new Hemingway in his / her late-twenties with the promise of a massive portfolio of wealth- bringing novels stretching ahead, and it's true that the media does love the fresh faced pretendy genius, but they will all go heavily for whoever writes the new Gone With The Wind, irrespective of age or gender or race or species. Ask them. Next month I will be seventy four; that's right, 74 years of age.

'Unbelievable', as these days they say, but believe me when I tell you that this is a wonderful, beautiful age to be, provided of course that one is fortunate enough to be left beyond the old four score and ten with everything working and that great big fire in the belly to goad you on, in my case to write something that will make a difference to me, to mine and to all who may chance to read it.

Now I shall read what you wrote.

All the best, Willie.

And here endeth the fourth lesson. (Sorry!) Bryan.

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