Somewhere I have a book of Judith Viorst’s poems. In one of them she laments that she is getting older without having achieved anything wonderful. The last line is about how nobody will ever say “And she did it so young!”

There are days when I think if I hear about one more Bright Young Author who, at twenty-seven (or twenty-two or nineteen-this-coming-Friday), is about to publish their third book, or even their first, I’ll wither up with envy. As I’m not generally an envious person (I have other sins), this is Very Bad For Me. But the truth is, we aren’t all Wunderkind. Some of us are – um, whatever the German is for old people who do well. Wundergeezer, perhaps.

The truth is that when I was young, I’d have been a terrible writer. I was a terrible writer. Even if I’d written a book – and I did – it wouldn’t have been worth publishing. Oh, no, it wasn’t. And it has deservedly disappeared into the void, and you’d have to pay me a real lot to even think of resurrecting it.

I have decades of experience and study behind me, reefs and mountain ranges of interest and accumulated trivia, if not wisdom. I didn’t have that in my twenties, and I believe that that’s part of the reason that I’m a good writer now and wasn’t then.

The other reason is that I’ve had time to learn not only the craft of writing, but a host of other transferable skills, like self-discipline, diligence, persistence, the ability to meet deadlines, the value of reworking something until it was right, or at least the best it could be. I learned these skills through printmaking and pottery and manuscript illumination and running my own business. I learned them through working in offices and retail stores, through spinning and weaving and knitting and embroidery. I learned them through training my dogs and keeping a rather strange assortment of pets. Oh, yes, and voracious reading.

So I arrived in my middle thirties at a place where I was willing to dare to submit a piece of humour to a magazine. There are writers who arrived there in their mid-teens. Good on them. I wasn’t ready then. The editor who bought that piece told me I had a lovely writing voice – I think that has, in the end, meant more than the cheque I received for the work.

Instead of being in my twenties or thirties with a writing career ahead of me, I’m in my fifties. Over the hill, some may say. Not worth the run for the years I have left, maybe. Wotthehell, let’s throw in that soul-killing phrase, “Too late”.

I don’t believe it. I’m just getting started. I have a lovely writing voice and stories still to tell, and as long as I can hoist my geriatric butt into a chair and poke the computer keys with my arthritic fingers,I’m gonna tell them.

Over the hill, you may say, indeed. But that means, of course, it’s a downhill run from here. Woo-hoo! Gravity is on my side.

Wundergeezers Unite and Write! Even if you have to whack the keys with your cane!

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5 Responses to Wundergeezers

  1. Yvette Managan says:

    I too feel as though I am just getting started and I do not take kindly to that expression, “Over the hill.” I don’t like thinking that this is the last half of things soalely on having passed some particular number or having successflully sloughed off the clinging children. I have not made it to some apex, become king-of-the-hill and am now turned back, falling forward, helpless to the power of gravity. This part of life truly feels more like a beginning, as thgough all things led to here and now I am at a place of becoming my own writer with definite ideas, tales, experiences, my own.

    I like to see all those years tending to small things, like jobs and husbands and children, as a sort of practice, maybe a trainings in communication. It is there that I learned word efficiency, the power of language and the persistance it takes to finish a piece. Now that two-thirds of those life-learning-experiences have passed, I like to think that I can now take up the challange of fighting against gravity, of pushing forward toward the summit, ever upward, onward, gravity be damned, I will not ever be over the hill, I hope.

  2. ecreith says:

    I read something by a mountain climber who said that getting down the mountain takes two-thirds of your energy. The summit is far from the end, and far from the most difficult thing to do; after that, you have to get down alive.

    Yvette, you’re a kick-ass writer. Get on with it, woman! Blow them out of the water.

  3. Bluebethley says:

    Aargh, Elizabeth, if 50 is over the hill, what about those who are even older and still aspire to a writing career? You are young, child, and full of dreams, a beautifully skilled writer. Persevere! I shall.

    • ecreith says:

      Perhaps I make too much of this age thing. I just really like being – well, older. I like being a crone. I’m looking forward to many years of cronehood.

      And thank you, Bluebethly. Where can I see your writing?

  4. Bluebethley says:

    Hello again, Elizabeth. Thanks for the comment. You can see my latest flash by clicking on my name or going right to http;//bethandwriting.blogspot.com And, yes, I too am inspired by other . . . ahem . . . older women writers!

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