Last week, talking further about the effects of aging on my work as a writer, I spoke of now being more successful in “getting out of my own way” when I sit down to write. I said that I find myself far less concerned about what anyone else—friends, agent, editors, reviewers, etc.—will think about what I’m creating and more able simply to let what I find within me flow. And I quoted one of my readers of the previous week’s discussion who referred to the process of aging as being like creating a reduction when cooking, after long simmering our own “me-ness” grows more intense.
I asked my readers for their experience of the impact of aging on their work, and here are some of the responses I got.
I love the idea of coming to an age where writing from the place of story is the thing that makes you feel most yourself. I think many of us get rare glimpses of this place as we move through our careers. I know I’ve been there…and I cherished that space. I’m always looking for it. Maybe, instead, I need to just let that place find me. —Ann
I took great comfort from this post. This idea of reduction is like distillation, which ironically is a process used to create alcoholic drinks—”spirits.” Likewise, our spiritual life after age 60 is reducing life to its essence and saying no to many things that used to concern us. —Doug
I find, as mortality looms ever larger in the window (assuming I have at least another 20 to live), that the mundane things and the pesty demands that KEEP me from what I want to do (write my novels) are more and more annoying, and, “no” is easier to say now, though the biggest thing I need to say “no” to, much more often, is the plethora of online interaction lol —Donna Marie
Thanks so much for this post – It helps me focus my thinking about writing and projects at this time of my life. I loved the line -“I’m simply reaching into myself, into that place where language begins, where story resides, and pulling out whatever I find there.”
This is what I needed to hear to let go of my own expectations to push outward. Now is the time to reach inside to find my stories. Here is a link to a bit more of my thinking —Joanne T.
These posts of yours have actually frightened me – partly because you’ve expressed my well-buried thoughts, and partly because the concept of not being able to write some day due to age is horrifying. But what I have found with my recent projects casts a happier light on being an older writer: I know stuff. I don’t know where or when I learned it, I don’t remember the research, the study, but there it is – language and detail and nuance. I can bring a depth to my work that I couldn’t have brought to it when I was in my 20s. Count me among those writers who will never retire, and who doesn’t give a fig for the so-called career. All I care about is that my stories get better, that I care about them deeply, and that I keep on writing. —Janet
I’ll soon be 74, and my days are among my happiest—rather akin to childhood.
For many years, I worried about growing old and what it would be like. Such wasted energy! Now that I AM old, I live in gratitude for each day. Every day is different–with a rhythm that feels “right.” Today I did a book signing for my newest PB, Ben and Zip: Two Short Friends. The smile on the face of a three-year old (who had the whole book memorized) filled my heart.
Much like you, the creaks and squeaks in my joints remind me that I’m old. But my heart has never been more fulfilled. —Joanne L.
Thank you to every one of you for your thoughtful, eloquent responses. I wish I’d been able to use every comment I received. Hearing from my readers makes this a conversation, and it’s the conversation that keeps me returning to the blog!