Friday, November 18, 2011
Writing and Age
1. I'm too old, and nobody takes me seriously.
2. I have to self-publish because I don't have time to go the normal route with an agent and publisher.
3. I've had a good life and people would learn from what I have to say, so I need to pen my memoirs.
4. I'm older, and I'm in a hurry, with little time to waste.
Age can be a catalyst for decisions we've postponed or an excuse for short cuts. Mistakes are made easily with this mindset.
I also receive emails from writers who are still learning about the world, in their teens and twenties. Their concerns follow these lines of logic:
1. I'm too young, and nobody takes me seriously.
2. I have to self-publish because it's the way new writers are getting discovered these days.
3. I had a bad experience and people would learn from what I have to say, so I need to pen my memoirs.
4. I'm younger, and I'm in a hurry, with little time to waste.
Notice the similarities. To me, one of the most attractive aspects of being a writer is that it's ageless. You can be any age and write about any age. Your work speaks for you, and the best queries give no indication of your age, thus, making the editor/publisher/agent consider you per your writing abilities first and foremost.
The bottom line is, age doesn't matter. If the writing, project, lesson or story is good, it can get published. What I don't want you to do is blame age for anything. You're in one of the most age-forgiving professions in the world. The moment you mention it, you reveal your insecurities. Insecurity is a deterrent to those buying work. They don't want that baggage. They want good writing and writers who believe in their writing.
The next time you write a query, avoid these words when speaking about yourself:
-previous profession (i.e., I'm a retired [fill in blank] )
-just out of school
-lack of work experience
You want your writing to be judged, not you. On the other hand, if any of these items have a parallel connection to the story you pitch, use them as strengths in your bio, demonstrating you have first-hand experience.
But never use them otherwise. They come across that you seek sympathy or need an excuse as to why you aren't more than you are. This business is competitive enough without fueling the fire, giving editors an excuse to say no.
Say you are a writer. Not older, not younger, not inexperienced, not retired. Focus on the writer in you. That's what you want to come across in your work.