April 30, 2023: Growing Older and More Patient
I was recently a guest speaker at a local writer’s group, and I was sharing the process and journey of getting my first book traditionally published. It was a long and arduous process, but one that ultimately made me a better writer, and I think, a better person. I shared that my first book was published as I turned 50 years old.
“Fifty? Oh my!” I heard someone utter.
While it was not overtly an insult, the implication was that success when you are young is the goal and much more impressive than when you are older.
Growing older certainly sneaks up on you. One day you are young and vibrant, (at least in your own mind) and the next you are delegated to the ‘senior’ category.
Fifty though, is now soundly in my rear-view mirror. It has been 14 years since that first book was published, and I now have three more out in the world. Hardly earth-shattering or wildly-impressive. A younger writer in the group asked why I did not just skip all the work of traditional publication, and just self-publish.
Yes, that is an option, and I have often written about why I think traditional publication is far superior to self-publication, but that is a different post.
Today I want to focus on patience. My unscientific observations and anecdotal evidence point out that many young people are focused on achieving success FAST. Anything that does not happen quickly, is the source of great stress and agony. When they begin to truly understand all that is involved in the process of becoming traditionally published, so many throw in the towel and fall back on self-publication routes. They are simply in too much of a rush to get published. Quick is more important than the quality it seems.
This trait seems to appear less in writers who have passed that middle-age designation. In some ways this seems counter-intuitive, as the older we are, the less time on earth we know we have left. Yet age also imparts wisdom.
I have even been asked by more mature writers if it is worth it to keep writing, and I always reply with a resounding YES!
The benefits of being an “older writer”:
- As someone who has decades of life under our belts, we have a plethora of experiences on which to draw when writing. We have most likely experienced the joys, sorrows, heartbreak, frustration, or any other emotion that our characters are feeling or that we are trying to capture with our words.
- We tend to be more resilient when faced with failure or rejection. Again, through that life experience, we know that failure is not fatal and that it can be overcome with hard work and new approaches. We understand that instant success is often not realistic and we are willing to put in the time to earn it.
- We take critique and criticism in a more effective way. We do not take it as personally as some younger writers. We have already taken on personas and identities that are part of who we are, so we are confident enough to embrace the feedback for what it is, and realize it is not an assessment of our entire life.
- Our maturity gives us a more balanced view of life, and therefore, we understand the value of those intangible, immeasurable parts of life, and of being a writer. Even though writing is a solitary endeavor for the most part, older writers seem more willing (or perhaps able) to nurture the social aspects of being a writer. Writer’s groups, networking, mentoring.
Obviously these are generalizations and unscientific, but to all of those older writer’s out there who are seeking traditional publication for your work, do not give up.