Thursday, March 05, 2009

When is it too late to start writing?

That was the question posted recently to a writers' email group.

I think a better question might be "Is it ever too late to stop learning to write?" We learn by writing. We learn by reading. And, lately I've discovered that I learn most by listening. My son downloaded hundreds of audio books, converted them to MP3s and gifted my [so far] with 30 DVDs full.

After listening my way through the entire Narnia series, ALL of the McCaffrey Pern novels and ALL of Robert Jordon's Wheel of Time I feel much more "ready" to work on my third novel and beyond.

My editor/friend has tried for years to get me to re-read Jordon for help with some of my style issues but after half a lifetime doing research and writing I find myself unable to read anything without mental editing. Listening disallows this and makes novel story structure and novel styles much more evident.

To paraphrase Rita Mae Brown, writing is perhaps the only field of endeavor in which a woman cannot be accused of "sleeping her way to the top." We live or die on the page or should I say we live and die FOR the page. Writing is age at its most irrelevant.

Incidentally, for the record I was 33 when I began my first novel and 68 when a truncated version of the umpteenth draft was published. I began my second novel at 46 and published it at age 70. "My" [and my editor's] preferred version of the first novel was published last year around the time of my 76th birthday. Now, as I contemplate my lucky double 7s year I'm anxious to get back to work on my 3 or 4 book historical epic. Age? Hurrumph! Who cares as long as we're living and learning?

Write on!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting about the audio books being able to listen to and not fall into the "mental editing" thing - hadn't thought of that, and I know now that I know a little about good writing I find myself "picking apart" a book I'm reading rather than just being able to enjoy it. Same with music - where most people can just enjoy listening to music, a musician is constantly analyzing it, critiquing it.

    And yes, never too late to "begin" writing. I was in my mid-fifties before it ever occurred to me to write a book.

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