Friday, May 13, 2005

Ti-i-i-ime is on my side

That old Stones tune has been running through my head since I read this BBC article, which says authors tend to peak at age 50. Is that good news or bad news for a 49-year-old who's been writing romance fiction for less than five years? I'm not sure I need this kind of pressure:

The average age of writers who topped the hardback fiction section of the New York Times Bestseller List from 1955-2004 was 50.5 years.

"We wanted to discover the optimum age to write a best-seller," said Bob Young of Lulu, a website for writers and independent publishers.

"Unlike scientists or musicians, say, writers tend to mature with age."

First of all, I don't think fifty is all that old. And I'm not entirely comfortable with the suggestion that there is no greater success for a writer than making the NYT list. But I like that part about writers tending to mature with age.*

Last week a relative who is four years older than me said he was looking forward to retiring so he could travel and do fun things. But a writer can travel if she wants, and writing is a Fun Thing, so what novelist in her right mind would ever dream of retiring? Not this one.

Stephen King is 57 and hotter than ever. Is he staring out a window right now daydreaming about what he's going to do when he retires? Probably not. Agatha Christie was still writing when she died at age 85. And James Michener made it to 90. They didn't retire. What would have been the point?

I know quite a few "little old ladies" who are publishing romance fiction, but because I value their friendships, I won't mention any names. Let's just say that at 49 I am still viewed by some very good and prolific romance novelists as a snot-nosed kid.

How cool is that?

*We're talking about the quality of the writing, of course--writers themselves can be as immature as anyone else. And then some.

This morning I looked in on a new blog from Writers Write that they're calling Pleasant Morning Buzz. I just about choked on a mouthful of Earl Gray tea when I saw that the "pleasant" article they're offering this morning is about bedbugs.

I did laugh at their riff on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's shoes, however. Go read that and be sure to check out the update, too.

UPDATE May 14: Now go read the fairytale ending to Ms. Pelosi's shoe story. I really love it when a blog ties up all the loose ends like that.


Anonymous said...

I hope that you can keep writting
until you are 102 ;-D

Susan Kaye said...

As I turn 47 this summer, and have yet to make it into paper publishing, I guess I have three more years to get it together. Though my fave author, P. D. James is still plugging away at 80-something.

But maybe there is a dispensation for women like me, I've enjoyed aging and feel more comfortable in my skin now than ever before. Perhaps I have until 60!