Weekend Edition – Writers, Better with Age plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

Writers, Like Fine Wines, Get Better with Age

reading glassesAbout a week ago, I picked up my first pair of reading glasses. I like being able to see more clearly, but cautious overcompensation to avoid a collision between the lenses of my glasses and the rim of my tea mug has resulted in tea dribbling down my front on more than one occasion. There is also the fact that the bridge of my nose is a bit crooked (or, maybe it’s that one of my ears is lower than the other), so the glasses sit askew, giving me a slightly crazed and disarrayed look. Not exactly what I was going for.

Though a small part of me laments the fact that my eyes will now likely become dependent on glasses, a larger part of me accepts this development as the mostly benign rite of passage that it is, and also something of a privilege. Still, knowing that my faculty of sight is no longer what it once was is a gentle reminder that I am not, as I sometimes seem to presume, immortal. Time is always passing, and with it the minutes allocated to my life here on this earthly plane slip from present to past and are lost to all but memory.

But, somehow, even in the face of that stark reality, I still giggle at my reflection – crooked glasses and all – staring back at me from my computer screen.

Though sometimes I think I should spend more time lamenting all the things I have yet to accomplish (not to mention the constant discrepancy between my intentions and my actions), the truth is that the older I get, the more I seem able to let go of certain expectations. Even when it comes to writing.

There was a time not so long ago when I could be quite easily discouraged about my writing “progress.” For years, my joke response to questions about my writing aspirations has been that I’d like to be the next J.K. Rowling, only me … and better. The trouble is, I’m not actively working on a novel. In fact, though I did make time to take an excellent class at Grub Street this fall, I haven’t done much fiction writing for a long while. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. (I do!) But, I haven’t yet reached a point where I feel compelled to make the small, personal leap that will liberate more writing time from my otherwise captive days.

This creative inertia left me feeling like a fraud, a failure, and a fool. I felt like I was falling way behind, losing the race. I worried that my best days were behind me and my chances at “success” (whatever that was) were long gone, taunting mirages retreating into the distance. I wondered if I should just give up the whole idea of being a creative writer and surrender to living a more “normal” life.

I still have those days, but more and more I find that I can bear witness to my own evolution with a mostly impartial eye. It is true, I guess, what they say about age bringing perspective. Even though I can still work myself into a minor tizzy about all the things I have yet to do, I feel less and less anxious about meeting specific expectations. I am more willing, I suppose, to accept that I am on an adventure and I cannot (nor should I want to) predict exactly how things will develop or turn out. Even when it comes to writing.

Not long from now, we will all be dangling our legs over the edge of this year, preparing to jump and dive and fall into the New Year. All around us, people will be talking about resolutions, goals, commitments, and visions. We will be tempted to measure ourselves and our passions against fabricated benchmarks and deadlines. The urge to compare ourselves to others and to the vision of “how we thought things would be” is strong. I hope you resist.

Writers do not have expiration dates. In fact, most writers improve with age. We can’t help it. The older we get, the more we understand. The more practice we have under our belts, and the more perspective we gain. As the years go by, we learn how to be more curious, courageous, and creative. We hone our craft. We discover that we are less afraid now to say things that terrified us only a few short years ago.

Time may ravage our bodies, chipping away at our senses and strength, but time also bestows many gifts on the writer’s mind and heart. I am not arrogant enough to think that I will not still suffer moments of regret and frustration about what I have and haven’t accomplished as a writer. I will. But, I am hopeful that I will continue to grow into the kind of writer – and person – who can gracefully acknowledge the true nature of the creative journey and embrace each moment and experience for the treasure it is.

 

What I’m Writing:

Embracing the messy magic of the holidays.

Embracing the messy magic of the holidays.

Not much. And that’s the plain truth.

I continued to work on client projects this week, and I’m delving into my Christmas projects; but overall my writing output has been fairly low this week. There are just too many holiday tasks nipping at my heels. And, you know what? THAT’S OKAY.

At this time of year, I’m reminded that though writing is an important, defining part of my life, it is not my whole life. And, in fact, if I were to focus exclusively on writing to the point of missing out on life, I think that’d make me one heck of a boring person (not to mention a poor writer).

So, while the holiday “magic” is whipping up all kinds of chaos and insanity, I am content to put my pen aside for a bit. I will write only the things that need to be written (my column and these weekend editions that I enjoy so much). Any other writing will be done exclusively in my head as I immerse myself, open-eyed, into the season – taking it all in and storing bits away for later writing.

It’s all good. Even when we’re not physically writing, we’re still writers.

What I’m Reading:

Illustration by Anna and Elena Balbusso

Illustration by Anna and Elena Balbusso

Though the busy season leaves little time for pleasure reading, I did carve out a few minutes this morning to enjoy a fairytale by Charles Vess called Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North. Featured on Tor.com, this origin story weaves magic, talking animals, and trolls into a traditional-style fairytale that is full of dark charm and hopeful light. Like the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Father Christmas Letters, which I mentioned in Friday’s post about favorite holiday tales, this story eschews the contemporary leaning towards saccharine characters. Though a Santa story featuring trolls may not appeal to the masses, there is something undeniably true about great beauty and kindness springing from great sorrow and loss.

 

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin getting older

Wishing you a modicum of sanity and respite in these last few days leading to the end of the year. Here’s to working at your own pace and enjoying your own journey, wherever it may lead. See you on the other side!

.
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and – occasionally –  trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

32 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – Writers, Better with Age plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

  1. some of them eventually turn to vinegar! Eventually age, illness and dementia come to many. I am a realist due to family history Alzheimer’s is not out of the question, but I’ll fight on while able. Writing helps keep the mind sharp!

    • You know, I thought about those possibilities when I was writing this post. There is always the possibility of tragic aberrations, but I hope that you never have to face such trials and losses.

    • Oh, boy. That sounds much more difficult to manage! I hope we both manage to find a bit more grace in our glasses-clad state. 🙂

  2. I don’t question my own mortality any more; I am certain of it. And I suppose that contributes to both perspective and freedom, in some ways. But it also narrows your focus and increases your impatience, too. Every wasted minute is a minute I’ll never get back.

    I am in way too much hurry to get there, because time is running short. Reaper’s waiting, right over there, and tapping his foot with impatience.

    But I look forward (and hope) to, some day, have the sort of perspective that you’ve reached.

    • My perspective comes in fits and starts, Dave. 😉 I, too, often feel that sense of urgency, but I try to temper it as I can. It feels less like giving in or slowing down than like just trying to work with the natural flow of things. Definitely a work in progress.

  3. Oh, Jamie – I had to chuckle at your introduction to your ‘new age’ of glasses. I do believe from personal discovery and observation that we ALL have crooked noses, lopsided ears or both!! AND you’ve now discovered one reason us ‘mature’ humans invariably have a dribble stain on our shirt!! Ahh the joys of living … longer 😋

    As for your creative hiatus – you expressed ( much better than I) the frustration, fear and ultimately releasing that seems to have dammed up my writerly brain cells this month. I loved reading this, despite your discomfort at lack of fiction production. You are truly a wonderful essayist.

    Merry Christmas and blessings for your family. Hugs, Sammy

    • “… the joys of living … longer” <— I love that. 🙂

      Thanks so much for being here and for your kind words. It's funny, actually, when I think of how I've come to write so many essays for blogs and my column. I never intended for that to be an area of focus in my writing, but I guess that's part of what I mean about going with the natural flow of things and enjoying the journey … no matter where it leads.

      Merry Christmas and all the best to you for a happy New Year!

  4. Very, very wise Jamie. The thing is, we are exactly where we are meant to be, and when we are meant to be ir donsomething else, we will feel the pull so strongly that we won’t be able to ignore it, nor resist it. We love to wonder if we should be doing something else or living somewhere else – i am as guilty of it as the next person. Truthfully though, we’ll know when it’s time. Merry Christmas to you and your family Jamie xo PS i loved that Dan Blank article!

    • Thank you, Sara – for being here and for bringing up that important point about how we so often squander our time wondering and worrying about whether we should be doing something other than what is right before us. I hear echoes of “be present” in those thoughts. Too often, we are more fully engaged with the “other” thing than we are with whatever we’re doing in the moment. And, that’s just silly! 😉

      I also love what you’ve said about feeling a pull so strong that we won’t be able to resist it. I can sense that tipping point approaching for me. So far, I’ve been letting fear and doubt shore up my resistance, but their hold is weakening. Slowly, but surely.

      The best and brightest of the holiday season to you and yours, Sara. I look forward to more conversations in the New Year.

      (And – yes! – I loved Dan’s article as well. He gets right to the point, doesn’t he?)

  5. I’m still in denial about eye glasses. I keep telling myself that I can still read and all, but every time I have to squint to read the menu in a restaurant, I curse myself for being vain.

    I have enjoyed reading this article. Word for word, it’s a perfect match to what’s in my mind lately. The quote hits bulls eye as well. Once again, kudos Jamie.

    • I was in denial for a while as well, but eventually I had to face reality. There were too many headaches in my daily rounds. I had to admit I needed a little help. Still adjusting, but I think the transition will be worth the effort.

      So glad that you enjoyed the article … and the quote. Glad to know I’m not alone in my musings. 😉

      Thanks so much for being here.

    • You mean, there’s hope? 😉
      Thanks for bringing that here. And – yes – writing does have healing power on so many levels. We are lucky to be able to practice such medicine.

  6. Such a good writing.and the quote of victoria Erickson made me feel good.because I afraid I am getting older and loosing my beauty.but this quote shown me the other side of getting older.

  7. “The More We Understand.”

    Even though I am nowhere near purchasing my first pair of reading glasses (I hope!) – though I have worn glasses for the better part of 20 years so it won’t really make a difference – the one thing I am learning on this journey called life is that we think we know when we are teens but as we grow older we understand that we know nothing (or at least very,very, very little). And that is okay.

  8. Pingback: Writers, Better with Age plus Good Reads and Writing Tips | mobile youth nigeria

  9. Thank you for this piece. I am encouraged. I do hope I’ll get better with more practice, grow more curious and courageous in my writing, too! Embracing the new year with gusto!

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