Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On the menu today -- Beef stew with dumplings. (It's so fall-y here, stew is just the thing.)

Well sports fans, after last week's query mania I have run the gamut of emotions from over the top to down at the bottom again. Gotta love that query process.

I wonder if those of us who are 40-something and older, have the same emotional range that younger writers have. OR is it higher? We have seen so much more of life. We have been in "the world". As "mature" writers do we throw in the towel more often than our younger counterparts? Or do we have the *ahem* maturity and patience to keep going that young people don't?

I've spoken to three writers who are, for the most part, my age and we are all having almost the same reaction to the query process. We are all querying our second books. We second guess our brilliance and our voices and our stories. It sucks. In any other given situation we are confident and strong and know who we are and what we stand for. In the query process we have been reduced to babbling 4 year olds who cry and whine and revert to the deepest levels of self-doubt and reduced ego.

I think, perhaps, as writers now, in this day and age, we (the older writers) are just trying to gain our place in immortality, and the more rejections we garner, the easier it is to think we will never gain that goal. We have, what, twenty years left to write? (As opposed to the 20 or 30 year olds.) To make some kind of impression on the world with our work. And the longer it takes for that to happen, the more we find ourselves withering away inside, where it counts.

Is our level of maturity, going to help or hinder our writing abilities? Is our age going to make or break us?

Writing is hard work. We all know that. But is it harder when you're "mature"? I know I couldn't have written either of the books I finished when I was 20, or even 30for that matter. I don't want to be known as a one-hit-wonder, I don't think any of us does.

So my question to you, dear readers is this -- Do you think you'll be doing this writing thing for awhile, or are you just trying it out to see? Are you in it for the long haul?


Bish Denham said...

You hit the nail on the head about the time left to actually write and get published. It often makes me wish I'd started when I was MUCH younger, often makes me wonder if I should keep at it.

I've pretty much decided ultimately I'm writing for me. If in 20 years I'm still not published and I want to be, and I have the energy, I'll self-publish and look for help in selling my books from some young thing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think it's an advantage to be an older writer. We have more patience.
And I guess I just wanted to see if I could do it. Where that journey has taken me so far has been a pleasant surprise.

Christine Danek said...

I'm not sure if I'm considered an older writer (I'm in my late 30's), but I have this feeling that the clock is ticking, and I may never get to where I want to be.
I'm still working on my first novel, and so not ready for the query process yet, but the whole rejection thing scares me.
I plan to keep working as hard as I can to get to where I want to be. It took me this long to finally admit to myself that this is what I want to do. I can't stop now.

Matthew Rush said...

I'm not sure. I'm in my mid thirties but I feel like a young writer because I've only been pursuing it seriously for about 2 years. I'm not sure where that leaves me but I can understand your concern.

Linda G. said...

You know, I never really consider age with regard to my writing, except in the sense that I have more life experience to apply to it now than I did when I was in my twenties or thirties. None of us knows how much time we have left on earth to devote to our vocation, so I don't see the point in dwelling on it. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Bish -- some young thing. LOL.

Alex -- Yeah, surprise. Who knew it would have so many rewards.

Christine -- Go You! I can't wait to see what you've been working on.

Matt -- Truthfully, I'm in the same dilemma. I FEEl like a new writer inside, but the body clock is ticking.

Anne Gallagher said...

Linda -- As always, your insight is invaluable. :))

Liza said...

I do think there is something to say for maturity in this game. Yes, it's hard to be rejected...we do have less time, after all. I think that the knowlege of that helps to focus us more. I'm guessing I couldn't have done this when I was thirty...because if I could have, maybe I would have tried?

Susan Fields said...

Definitely the long haul. I'm 42 now, and I'm hoping I've got another 42 years of writing in me. :) Have a great weekend, Anne!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Some really great questions here. I always step back and look at your progress and your amount of dedication and I'm always, ALWAYS impressed. I also think much of that comes from your "maturity" as you put it. I have no doubt you will go far if you keep at it and don't give up, but as for ANY writer, it takes time.

To answer your question I'm in this for the long haul, all the way. I've wanted to be published and write novels for a living since I was ten years old. Now I'm 31. My first novel happened when I was 14, I think, and ever since then I have worked tirelessly at this writing thing, this dream, this life...

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

i'm in it for the long haul. The time will pass anyway

Christine said...

I think that maturity enriches our writing, but it also increases our awareness of that ticking clock. If I had ten more years was something I said to myself this year. Or, why didn't I start ten years ago instead of five years ago? I'd be so much further ahead was what I told myself. But then my CP said she felt her writing benefitted from her life experiences. And yesterday when I rewrote a pivotal scene, I drew directly from my own life experiences with loss of loved ones which ramped up the emotion. You can't bleed all over the pages if you don't suffer first.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

A query is very hard work, and that's for sure. It is basically a job interview. And as a job interview, our heads are filled with what the agent or publisher can do for us -- while the agent and publisher is only interested in what we can do for them.

"Just the facts, ma'am." They want a brief TV Guide summary of your book to see if it is something that they can make money with.

They want to know anything about you that will help them sell your book -- nothing else.

As we hate form rejections, they dislike form queries, cut and paste time. Research who you write. Put one (only one) sentence that refers to them personally.

And humor -- if you can lightly spice your query with a bright touch, it will make it easier digestion for the eye-weary agent.

Just a few thoughts, Roland

Anne Gallagher said...

Wow, you guys, thanks so much for sharing all your thoughts. I'm loving this discussion.

Lisa -- I think that's right -- if we could have done this back then, wouldn't we?

Susan -- Forty-two more years! Let's raise our glasses to that!

Michelle -- I know you're as dedicated as I am. But here is where the difference lies. I'm still 20 years older than you are. (Or thereabouts *ahem*) You can see where I have my moments of desperation.

Sarah -- How true. and why not spend that time doing something you love.

Christine -- I think as mature writers we CAN draw from our life experiences. I mean, I remember when there were phone booths.

Roland -- Thank you, as always.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

It only means your writing will have that much more wisdom. Seriously. :)

Carolyn Abiad said...

Age provides perspective, but I, like Christine above, feel the need to make it work "now" because there isn't much of a "later". I wonder if that rushes me through where I should pause.

adam.purple said...

I'm in my forties. I don't think what I wrote in previous decades was really worth anything. I may not be any better at it now. Yet I am still hoping to launch a new career.

roxy said...

I hope I'm in this for the long haul, Anne. I've never loved any talent or interest more than I do writing. Those beef dumplings sound good.

Hanny said...

I don't think that chronological age enters into it. Maturity helps with the self discipline that you need to write on a sunny day, or when a good tv show is on, but there are mature 20 year olds and immature 50 year olds.
There are some writers who find their voice when they're young, but what do you do when you're thirty-something and you have nowhere else to go? No matter your age, you may still not have found that time when you will bloom and wow everybody with this flower that just needed that certain point to blossom.
The more I write, the more I feel that I need to write, and want to write. I believe now that I will write until I die, published or no.

February Grace said...

I've written since I could hold a pen. I don't have a choice.

Heading for 40 this next spring though actually had nothing to do with my thoughts of trying to query this past year. It had more to do with me losing my eyesight and getting it back and thinking "what the hell". How I wish I could go back and do things over- and skip the whole thing.

I don't write like I wrote a year ago- and I hate that. But I've met some wonderful people, like you, and I wouldn't have if not for the research I did into the whole industry.

I just wish I could write again like I wrote before I had any idea that there was a 'right' and 'wrong' way to do it. If I can't recapture that then I'm afraid that whatever else I do or don't do, my best writing is behind me.

Hang in there, I admire your determination with the query process. It's not something I'm built for and I really have to hand it to those who keep at it.


The Words Crafter said...

I think it's both an advantage and a disadvantage. We have depths and experiences to pull from that younger writers don't. But I also think there is an underlying desperate fear that haunts us as we scribble our dreams and expose them to the powers that be.

Fantastic post!

Tracy said...

Sometimes I get worried that I need to get going on my writing career (meaning get my arse published) now...not because I'm worried about how many years I have left (30's writer here). I'm more worried about what happens when I get married and have kids.

I'm a late bloomer in that regards whereas so many of the rest of the writers I know seemed to have already learned how to juggle those "distractions". I worry if there isn't a career to keep me on track I'll get entirely wrapped up in those aspects of my life and neglect the writer part.

notesfromnadir said...

I think it's important to keep on writing no matter if you're 16 or 86+. If you truly want to write you will no matter how many obstacles there are in front of you.

Michelle Diener said...

Anne, your blog popped up on my google alert for Women's Fiction :). I'm contracted now for two books with Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books (only due out Aug 11 and Feb 12) but I queried 5 books before I got first an agent and then a publisher with ILLUMINATIONS. So my sixth book was the one that did it for me, although book 4 and 5 are, IMO, publishable, just not marketable AT THE MOMENT. The thing to remember is this business is part timing, part luck and part talent. When you get a rejection, say this to yourself: This was not the right manuscript at the right time with the right agent / editor THIS TIME. And if you really need inspiration, go to for a fix, or search my group blog, Magical Musings, for an amazing post on rejection by Maria V. Snyder.
Good luck!