Writers are often bombarded with success stories of people barely old enough to drive. The younger the author publishes his/her first book, the more they are praised and talked about (unless the book was horrible). One of the greatest fears many writers have is making it big after fifty. For some writers, they would rather not make it at all, than make it at the age of retirement.
There have been plenty of famous authors who have published to critical acclaim in their golden years. There have been writers who didn't even start writing until their fifties. Everyone's journey is different. But...
Poets face an interesting mindset when it comes to aging. The few fans we get tend to follow our careers throughout our lives, and rarely think aging or being "over the hill" hurts our skills. It's a boon, really. However, if your debut collection hits shelves after the age of thirty-five, it is a detriment.
I have no idea what it is about that certain age. You would think having the chance to experience life would only make one's work more complex and rich. And it's true. But you are also looked at as a late bloomer, someone who lost years of potential. Poets often count down to that magic birthday, sweating profusely in the cold anxiety of an unfinished manuscript. It's baloney.
"Making it" at any age is a wonderful thing. Who cares if you have gray hair when you're accepting your award? You're accepting it! All the pressure of an arbitrary number is going to do is freeze a person up. But the only way to truly lose years of potential, is to not go after your passion or talent at all. If you are working towards something, there is no wasted time.
Have you ever been told you'll be too late to the party by the time you finally publish?
That mindset is changing a bit for prose writers. There are now some awards that are only for debut novelists over 50 for example. But America does love those "early success" stories. Part of our worship at the altar of youth, I guess.ReplyDelete
I didn't run into this much in writing . . .but I had a baby after age 35, and that was one ugly can of worms. I had to fire one of my doctors over her treatment of me and she was a woman!
Farmers often have children in their later years. My great-grandmother was still having babies when my grandmother (her oldest daughter) was.Delete
I don't understand our obsession with being younger. I mean, it has advantages, but there are a fair amount of drawbacks as well. A lot of people wait for a young star to have burnout, to just collapse like a black hole. And they enjoy watching it, too.