Today she writes about writing into old age, something that I can definitely relate to. That's exactly what I'm doing and I plan to keep writing no matter how old I get. I think that's what keeps me vibrant and happy.
Please welcome Sherrey back.
Too Old to Write? Proof the Answer is “NO!”
by Sherrey Meyer
Lately I’ve been asked by friends and family what I'm doing with my time in retirement. Since I left my position with a local law firm in 2006, I've spent a lot of time with expensive surgeons who have corrected my eyesight and repaired a lot of bones. I discount those months as paid medical leave (paid by me and my retirement fund) and explain that I'm at last fulfilling a lifelong dream of writing.
The responses I have received are jarring, startling and some even painful:
· Aren't you too old to be writing a book? (Excuse me?)
· At this stage in your life, do you really want to deal with the burden of writing and then publishing a book? (I really love it!)
· What if no one wants to publish a book by a retired legal secretary? (I beg your pardon?)
· What do you have to write about? (Stories – lots of stories.)
And the list goes on. I try to smile and make polite comments. However, I didn't realize there was an age limit on when a person could write a book.
At a workshop I attended last winter, one of the workshop coordinators took a moment to announce a regular attendee was no longer with us. Bill Senstrom, MD, aged 90, had passed away two weeks previously. Bill had attended his first workshop in April 2009, had published a book since then, and was about to finish his second at the time of his death. The February 2013 conference would have been his eighth (conferences are held twice each year).
Let’s do the math: In 2009, Bill Senstrom attended his first conference. That was four years prior to his death in 2013. Our friend Bill didn’t begin writing until he was 86, and he still wrote two books and published one of them!
Bill was obviously not too old to be a writer.
Another example is that of Maris Morton, who won the prestigious CAL Scribe Prize sponsored by Scribe Publications in Australia. At the time, Morton was 72 and her book, A Darker Music, was a debut novel, which went on to become a bestseller. In that year's contest, the oldest participant was 90 years of age with 22 entrants born in the 1920s and 64 in the 1930s.
When asked about writers who worry that if they're not published by age 50 it will never happen, Morton said:
"My advice would be to stop worrying and keep writing, if you really love it. If you don’t, forget it, and take up bridge, or something equally absorbing."
The CAL Scribe Prize limits its contestants to those over 35 years of age intentionally and enjoys sharing information on the range of ages drawn to its competition. You can read more here.
Take a look at this list from Huffington Post of seven famous authors who got a late start:
· Laura Ingalls Wilder (first published in her mid-sixties)
· Raymond Chandler (published first novel, The Big Sleep, at 51)
· Mary Wesley (published children's books in her 50s, but her first novel wasn't published until she was in her early 70s)
· Harriett Doerr (published her first novel at 73)
· Richard Adams (wrote and published Watership Down in his early 50s)
· James A. Michener (published first novel in early 40s)
· Frank McCourt (also first published in mid-sixties)
Each of these authors wrote into their later years, some into their 90s.
Having looked at this range of ages among writers published decades ago and those publishing today, it is clear that writing has no age specific delineation. If you can write, then write! If you enjoy it, keep doing it every day or at least several times a week. If you don't enjoy it, then as Maris Morton said find something else to do with your time.
Passionate about writing? Ignore the naysayers who question age. Now, go and write!
Thanks so much, Sherrey. My sentiments exactly. Writing keeps us young - at least young at heart. I still can't wait to read your memoir. I know it will be wonderful.
A retired legal secretary, Sherrey Meyer grew tired of drafting and revising pleadings and legal documents. She had always dreamed of writing something else, anything else! Once she retired she couldn’t stay away from the computer, and so she began to write. Among her projects is a memoir of her “life with mama,” an intriguing Southern tale of matriarchal power and control displayed in verbal and emotional abuse. Sherrey is married and lives with husband Bob in Milwaukie, OR.
You can reach Sherrey on her websites: Healing by Writing and Found Between the Covers or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.