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Wednesday
Mar082006

How old is too old? Put on your bifocals and read this.

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Dick "Methuselah" Clark celebrates his 138th birthday
In my twenties I dabbled at writing. Dabbled the way Star Jones dabbled at dieting. I gave myself plenty of time. I’d get to it later, after all––I was young right? I thought, "Robert Heinlein didn’t get a book published until he was thirty-something. And that’s old".

Now I’m thirty-something. 37 to be precise.

The age you actually begin to think about what a gastroenterologist really does. You look at the cholesterol count as if it might matter soon. You wish you’d flossed more in your wild younger years.

So it got me thinking. Am I too old? Has the train of relevance left the station for good? Just look at Christopher Paolini. The guy is basically a fetus with shoes, signing a multi-book deal before his first bout of acne.

But then I remember my hero. Norman Maclean. The man publishes his first book, A River Runs Through It at seventy-freakin’-four year’s old. There’s hope for us all! Because for every Rossini, who wrote The Barber of Seville at 23, there’s Verdi—who wrote Othello at 74 and Falstaff at 80. And for every Dorothy Straight, who was 4 when she wrote How the World Began, there’s Sarah Louise Delaney, the oldest published author whose second book was released when she was 105.

It was titled A Century of Great Sex. Ok, not really, but it was still a big deal.

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Reader Comments (12)

You're not old. In fact, you're an asshole for being 37.

No, seriously, you are. I kid. Youth is important, statistically, for physicists, who only get one idea, in their entire careers, somewhere between the ages of nineteen and twenty-three. Ask Albert. You're good to go as long as you can still make connections. The older you get, the more interesting your connections get--partly because you can't remember everything correctly, but you don't tell anybody that. There is an element of treachery.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRoy
Wow, I'm only 31 and I already feel old. So I should ramp up my flossing efforts now?

I loved the "fetus with shoes" imagery. Also, A CENTURY OF GREAT SEX?

That is an amazing feat.
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJess
Thx for popping by this old gal's blog. So, if good is the enemy of great, is aging he enemy of youth?
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNienke
I think we write when we're ready. I wasn't ready in my 20's either - not seriously ready.

I'm almost 34 now. Of course, that's a LOT younger than 37 :)
March 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMaia
Anything I had to say in my 20's was really annoying. Of course, chick lit wasnt' popular yet, so really annoying wasn't lucrative at the time.

I suspect everyone's got an age at which they grow into the ability to say what they've got. We can't all be S.E. Hinton.
March 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
37? Ha! I have relatives older than that!
March 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterm.g.tarquini
Life begins at 30, Jamie. At least that's what I told myself when I turned 30. I amended it to 35 last July.

With age comes experience. With experience comes great stories. With great stories come... book contracts.

Adam
March 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Hurtubise
Age is such a state of mind. I was so obsessed with my career at 25 that friends called me the world's youngest 40-year-old. But now if you asked my wife she'd say I was the oldest of her five children.

(As I think about it, there really isn't an age limitation on anthing. Except maybe Speedos. There's probably a law needed there).

Maia, I like the idea of "we write when we're ready" and I sure wasn't ready in my younger years. Heck, I'm probably not ready now. But it's cool finding out.
March 9, 2006 | Registered CommenterJamie
Speedos should be banned no matter what your age, unless you're one of the Trojans in Troy like Eric Bana or Orlando Bloom.

Age ain't nothing but a number as one young singer use to say.

And yeah, M.G. treats me like one of her kids. I wonder if I'm in her will.
March 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDana
I used to wish I'd started writing seriously right after college. But now I realize I didn't do anything seriously right after college, and my writing would have been nothing but self-absorbed rambling. Sometimes it's better to wait until you actually have something worthwhile to say.

Then again, some of us never get to that point.
March 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRachel Vincent
Never too old...My motto is I'll keep writing if it takes me til ninety to get published. Unfortunately, that's not good enough anymore...I want to be published NOW for cripe sakes.
March 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkathie
I wrote a lot in my post-college days. I look back on it now and cringe. I was writing for an audience of one. Me. Which I suppose can be cathartic, but not exactly anything Joe Public would care about. Still, good practice.

I'm sure when I'm ninety, published or not, I'll feel better about myself for trying. It beats sacrificing my free time on the altar of television.
March 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie ford

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