This great opinion piece was recently published in the New York Times (April 24, 2015), and I had to share: “What’s So Great About Young Writers?”.
Author Robin Black, whose first book of fiction was published when she was 48, starts off by saying,”I have long grumbled about the conflation of the words ‘young’ and ’emerging'”.
So true! Why is it assumed that emerging writers are young writers?
“Age-based awards are outdated and discriminatory, even if unintentionally so. Emerging writers are emerging writers.”
Reminiscent of some of the articles I found for my post about making money writing, Black continues by noting that “youthful achievement is often linked to privilege.”
“Not everyone can afford to write when young. Some are already working more than one job. Others are raising children, as I was for many years. Still others may not feel safe expressing themselves, for any number of reasons.”
How many of you are nodding your heads right now?
I know I did, as if Black was talking about me and the life I’ve lived up to this point … and I know I’m not alone.
So, how to respond to the “5 under 35”, the “Young Lions Fiction Award”, or any other similar award?
My inner voice is defiant and calls out to create the “4 over 40”, the “5 over 50”, or something like that, but I stop before I take it any further because I’ve never been sure that responding to ageisms with a new ageism is really the solution.
That’s the reason I call myself a ‘second-acter’, and why the tagline on this blog refers to a second act, without words like ‘midlife’, ‘middle age’ or ‘over 50’.
Black articulates it perfectly:
“The remedy is to take age out of the matter altogether, and focus on stage.”
Yes, I can proudly say that I’m in the emerging stage of what will be my ‘second act’.
Awesome, right? There’s an excitement, a positive spark of creative energy in that phrase, don’t you think?
I’m going to leave you with Black’s final thoughts on this, which I hope will fuel your emergence as it does mine:
“Diversity matters. Not only in what we look like, or what religion we practice, or in whom we love, but also in how we live our lives, including the order in which we go about things, … Those who are engaged in the arts should be the last to send any other message, because when artists endorse the traditional order of a society, it suggests that they have forgotten their own true role within it.” [Emphasis mine.]
Let’s not forget our true role!
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