Wednesday, October 7, 2020

IWSG - October - Another Year Older

Age is an interesting thing. It was not too long ago, maybe 10 or 15 years, that I asked my mom how old I would have to be before people just accepted who I was. Every family has that aunt who does things a little different, or that uncle who reacts a certain way to similar situations. Everyone has that friend at whom the others just shake their heads and say, "That's just so-and-so." I recognized a level of acceptance, and it seemed to only surround older people, not teenagers or twenty-somethings. So I had concluded that it must be something that comes with age, and I wanted to know when that was coming. At what age could I just be myself and others would say, "Well that is who she is," and not try to judge or shape me?

When I look back on the question, I wonder, does that mean that people have given up or stopped caring? It is an interesting thought and it roughly connects to this month's question.

Every year around my birthday I give myself a quick comparison. This year, I have two more years during which I could become a special agent in the FBI, a goal I only recently dropped, but I still use for perspective. A more recent comparison I use, is the first published date of famous authors. A study done a few years ago concluded that the average age of first publication among professional authors is 36. That's just 363 days away from today. Rowling was 32, Ursula K Le Guin was 37 if you look up first novel published, Octavia Butler was 29, Terry Brooks was 33, Stephen King was 27, etc. 

Don't worry, I am acutely aware that this is a form of judgement, and I am not placing it on myself or others. But it is a perspective with some use. It does not make me feel like I am inferior or behind. After all, I did not set out to become an author, it has simply been a dream in the back of my head that seemed about as likely as me becoming president. I also have a family and a full time job. Reading Stephen King's On Writing makes me certain that his wife should have received all of his early awards. This is also why I mainly like to read about the lives of the female authors mentioned above. No one needs to compare apples to oranges.

So does the fact that I have less than one year to meet the average first published date bother me? Not really. No more so than it did when I lost my first tooth at age seven while others did at age 5. But this does bring me to this month's question:

October 7 question - When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

Will I be published by my 36th birthday? Likely not. But can I consider myself a working writer? I think so. 

I am not sure what other working writers look like, but for me it is having "office hours" and measurable goals. I have a set time that I write on specific days of the week, just like any other job one might hold. I also have deadlines and projects that keep me moving in a positive direction. I would call this working. So long as I keep these routines and these intentions, I would consider myself a working writer, whether no other soul ever reads a word I write.

If you are interested in reading what others have to say about this question, please follow the link behind the badge below. You will find many, many blogs here, and can hop to any you please for interesting perspectives. 

Special thanks to the  awesome co-hosts for the October 7 posting of the IWSG: Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!


Feedback:  I would love your feedback about the new colors and font on the blog. I was trying to match my style a little better, but still want it to be accessible to readers.

32 comments:

  1. First off, your font and color scheme are perfectly legible on my laptop--can't speak to the mobile version. As for accomplishing your first publication by a certain age--who cares? How depressing to think we must have our goals firmly in mind early in life. Most people I know have changed direction, in terms of career and passions, several times across their lives. Sounds like you have a very healthy attitude toward the writing life. I wish you happy writing in October.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the feedback! I always tell people that I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

      Delete
  2. I'm having eye trouble at present, and your fonts are actually easier than many others I see!

    Your approach to the working writer is admirable. Keep it up, I'm sure you have the tenacity to succeed.

    As for doing things by certain ages... I'm one of those people who gave up a so-called good job and went back to college in my forties, and I've never done anything more enjoyable! So don't judge yourself by others. Find what works for you, and pursue the elusive publication contract if that's what you want. I self-published, and love the freedom it gives me. It isn't a path to riches, but there's no guarantee of that with a traditional publisher either :)

    Good luck :)

    Jemima

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I am lucky because I saw my mom change careers and we actually went to college at the same time. I remember running into each other on campus a few times and waving at each other. This definitely empowered me and made me believe that it was possible to do whatever I want, whenever I want.

      Delete
  3. I look back and so many times think the 20th decade of a person's life is not much more than adolescence with adult responsibility thrown on you. When I was in my 20s I remember friends and some who were so-called friends pestering me to be like the majority and so wouldn't accept me for who I am. Finally I said screw it, I'm being the person i feel like i should be. I feel like I'm considerately more respected for that now. Likewise, in writing, a person needs to be the writer they feel they have to be and not try to cater too much to the expectations of other, especially more successful writers. You make a good point using age as a comparison.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is funny how perspective changes for us. I often wonder, what stressful thing will I find utterly pointless in ten years?

      Delete
  4. I don't think the age of the first publication is important. Some writers have their first publications after 60. I was a late bloomer myself, well past 36 when I started writing, and my first publications in both fiction and journalism came even later. Still I consider myself a working writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. I think it will come when it comes and Dory got it right, "Just keep swimming."

      Delete
  5. I agree. I think working writer means you're working at our craft. Way to go with writing!
    And, I agree with Olga. The age doesn't matter. I've met people who started much later than I did who have massive talent and success - more than I have. I'm just plodding along. And I've decided that's okay, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely okay. Each year has new challenges, for writers and others.

      Delete
  6. I'm seeing lots of different definitions of working writer, but I think it's simple. I work and I write, therefore I am a working writer. Also, I was almost 50 when I started writing. It's never too late. We all evolve at our own speed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simple is often best! Thanks for inspiring!

      Delete
  7. It is good to remember that even the wildly successful novelists weren't exactly teenagers when they started publishing. That's actually very comforting, because I'm coming up on 34 next year and now I feel a lot more like I'm where I should be! LOL. Happy IWSG day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! When I first read this I was in my twenties and it gave me hope! I thought there was no way to start then, but I was way off.

      Delete
  8. To comment on the first part of your post - I am that aunt that everyone talks (criticizes) about. I formed my attitude decades ago: I just don't care what people say about me. What they say stings sometimes but I move on. Several years ago I fell in love with a much younger man and moved to Mexico to be with him. One would have thought I fell in love with the devil. But I refused to let them hinder what or who made me happy. Re: your page...sometimes a font with a serif is easier to read...but really you site is great!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I would love to move away someday. Adventures are for the bold.

      Delete
  9. I did not know the average age of first publication among professional authors. That's interesting! I was younger than Stephen King when I first published, but nowhere near his success, even then. lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome! I sometimes wonder what I would have accomplished if I had pursued this dream sooner. I created story concepts when I was in grade school, and never thought I could turn them into real books. It seemed too far fetched for some reason.

      Delete
  10. I don't have any problems reading the font, though on my laptop it's a bit small (most of them are, including on my blog. Maybe I should take care of that on my end :D).

    As for age... meh. I've long since moved past "I'm going to make a living as a writer" and now I'm more like the eccentric aunt--I just do what I do, and am happy for some readers!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I published my first book all wrong when I was 34. I did it right when I was 39. You're in the running so don't stress age or time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it would definitely be worth getting something right rather than getting it soon. Good point!

      Delete
  12. I like the new look. Also, I definitely don't worry about others' first dates of publication. There are plenty who weren't published until much higher ages.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm older and I'm looking to get published by 2022. So, you have lots of time by those standards that is if you care for them. Considering the amount of work you do, you are absolutely a working writer and my best wishes for being a published writer soon.
    Sonia from https://soniadogra.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hmm. I don't think I've ever since that statistic before. I was 35 when I published my first full-length work of fiction, so not too far off for me, I guess!

    I feel like I spent much of my 20s doing two things: one, learning the craft/business of writing; and two, grappling with a fear of rejection so that I had the courage to be who I am and put my work out into the world. I think as naturally social creatures humans want acceptance, but as we get older, we start to realize that we can't get 100% acceptance from everyone all the time. In my mid-30s, my boundaries are better, I'm better at removing myself from toxic situations/people, and I find it easier to stand in my truth. We all get to each milestone in our own time, but for me, each passing year brings wisdom and a sense of self-acceptance. It sounds like you're on that path as well!

    (And what a lovely, thought-provoking post, by the way! I genuinely mean that!) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting! I also feel that path moving beneath me. It is strange, I look at my children when they struggle through things, and I recognize the process. It only makes sense that this continues for our whole lives. What will I look back on in another 15 years?

      Delete
  15. Love the look of your website!
    BTW, many authors publish later than the ones you mentioned -- there are a few here: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/63112/11-writers-who-started-late

    ReplyDelete
  16. I used to have a scheduled writing routine. Nowadays, I write whenever I'm able, which is usually at night when the kiddies are finally in bed. Any other time is because I don't want to lose or forget whatever idea or thought or scene that's popped into my head.

    ReplyDelete