Grandmothers’ lives are odd things. On the one hand, if they’re blessed, their worlds are peopled with generations that adore them. Conversely, if they’re less fortunate, they might experience great loneliness, suffer ill health, or both.
However, even when physically or interpersonally challenged, most senior gals, especially those who are authors, enjoy mental prowesses that yet sit up and offer performances of the fandango, which are worthy of applause. More exactly, it’s almost always crones, not matrons or maidens, who deign to: spit out veracities, stop playing coy with power lines, and, after meticulously securing themselves within their hollyhock houses, point fingers at cultural malevolence. Living past one’s prime, i.e. being functional past sixty-five, means being able to let go of worrying about corporeal and social survival and, instead, dedicate one’s self to all sorts of “high falutin” causes.
Said differently, women in their third season, females who wax and wane among mundane nadirs and spiritual highs, benefit the rest of us as they benefit themselves. Most powerful is their lack of self-imposed restrictions on probing the status quo. Silver-haired girls, particularly those who are word slingers, have less to lose, thus stake more. They get cozier with jeopardy plus laugh louder than anyone else does at complex contemporary issues. Simply by exposing existent offenses to our collective, grey ladies insure that our social order has a future.
Viz., it’s to everyone’s advantage that articulate, mature women chortle, flash their purple bloomers, and rejoice over being decrepit, dated, and dog-tired enough to be unconcerned with peers’ or younger denizens’ assessments of them. Namely, despite the fact that youth is most often credited for “breakthroughs,” it is thinkers of an advanced age that bear up against the umbrage concomitant to introducing widespread paradigm shifts. That is to say, childish persons contribute ostentatiousness to causes while oldsters contribute persistence.
Weigh that Toni Morrison wrote Home, a story about finding personal identity during post-war times, and G-d Help the Children, a narrative about the world’s ill-use of children, while, respectively, in her seventies and eighties. Margaret Atwood wrote MaddAddam, a post-apocalyptic tale about survival, social strata, and friendship, in her seventies, and wrote The Blind Assassin, a novel about peculiar love alliances, in her late sixties. Elena Ferrante, what’s more, wrote in her late sixties/early seventies, a series of books, the Neapolitan Novels, about a group of girls laboring to thrive in a misogynous society. Although each of these renowned writers fashioned remarkable volumes in their early and middle years, the products of their golden decades manifested more bite and less contrition.
Writing is necessarily a mindful process. Work-arounds are okay for misplaced anniversary cakes or for ruined neckties, but not for compositions. Communication can’t be revolutionary if it isn’t backed by gumption costing much diligence to attain. Over and again, ancients, not emerging adults, are the citizens most frequently employing intellectual moxie in the manufacture of verbal wares.
It is also the case that many hoary ones retain the presence of mind to write well. Erstwhile hipsters not only are uniquely capable of: sitting back, sipping ginger tea, and evaluating sunsets, but, because they have swum so many extreme troughs and hiked so many immoderate peaks, all the while recording their observations, they are equally uniquely capable of ignoring the various morasses that clog up fledglings’ critical and creative thinking channels. Golden agers are inclined to be more strong-minded than their adolescent counterparts. Adding on birthdays does not have to bring about caducity.
As well as inviting bravado, aging can signify increased adroitness. Weeks’ worth of writing typically better builds competency than does months’ worth. Similarly, years of practice trumps months of the same. Decades involved in skill building usually results in rhetorical expertise.
In contrast to their elders, newbie wordsmiths sometimes create documents the wrong way round. The former, who have had tens, hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of works broadcast, tend to strive to illuminate critical ideas and to do so with proficiency. The latter, all the same, are apt to demand instant success and riches simultaneous with investing seemingly imperceptible resources or simultaneous with squandering their time and energy on social media’s lights and bells.
Fruitful authoring requires hard work, not self-flattery and not tawdry venues. For example, a recent student of mine refused to fix the documentation for a piece of her nonfiction, notwithstanding the free and easy-to-use available apps for correcting citations, since she only cared about meeting the stated requirements for a writing contest. She did not win. She did not write any more nonfiction, either.
In another instance, someone, who was paying for me to critique his work, refused to put one of his short stories through yet another needed rewrite. Instead, he posted it, in its still raw configuration, on his Facebook page and then, a few years later, added that tale to an assemblage that he paid a vanity press to publish. Eventually, that aspirant, likewise, stopped trying to write. He became a midlevel manager at an insurance company, a result which is fine for someone not seeking to work as a writer.
Up and coming scribes ought not to wait until they boast wrinkles, wear bifocals, or have mastered a champion’s vocabulary to put conscientiousness into their manuscripts. Additionally, they need to guard against forgetting or overlooking the verities of the publishing world. Like any other entertainment industry/major art establishment, the book business provides no haven for grandiosity. In short, it’s better for wannabe novelists to devote years of exertion to perfecting their skills, to moving from farm league publications to preeminent ones than to lose their ambition to wishful thinking.
Too often, emerging wordies turn their backs on sound judgments. They choose to be insulted by advice that would empower them, such as that they develop proficiencies with analyzing, interpreting and evaluating proffered verbal corpuses, and such as that they would do well to ascertain, in each instance, why they are writing and how they could best meet their goals for each set of concepts that they produce. Besides, unsophisticated word players would do better, faster, if they tried to get the gist of why certain publishers accept certain works, but not others, and as to why certain publications increase a writer’s professional credibility, but others don’t. In these days of self-publishing and self-promotion, acquiring the status of “author” carries no great weight.
When all's said and done, granny writers are awesome because: they are possessed of wisdom, shrewdness and talent, they’re not distracted by issues of popularity or by the allure of convergent media, and addressing vital topics is their main concern. Comparatively, younger authors embrace form over substance and don’t know how or are unwilling to be disciplined.
Consequently, younger writers can gain from reading granny writers’ words and following their example. Further, it would behoove all folks, no matter their vocations, to realize their debt to senior writers, to be grateful to them for the risks that they willingly take to move our civilization forward.