Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Writing all our lives

My 52nd birthday is nipping at my heels, and I was just thinking about how much I love writing and how glad I am that if I keep my mind sharp and don't give in to the arthritis stiffening my fingers (which is one reason I don't do booksignings--it's just too uncomfortable to hold a pen for very long), I should be able to write for as many years as God is pleased to leave me here on earth. Unlike dancers and basketball players who must hang up their shoes at young ages and unlike corporate types who turn 67 and are promptly given their gold watches and shown the door and unlike just about all other workers who retire just as their bodies begin to give out, writers who love what they do can go on and on and on. Even a very old, physically infirm writer can continue to publish books. She may not be attractive and energetic enough to get on Oprah, but otherwise, she'll face no discrimination based on her age.

Novelist Phyllis A. Whitney passed away on February 8 at the age of 104. She had begun writing as a teenager, and soon after finishing high school she was publishing short stories. She was 38 years old when she published her first book, a novel for young adults. Two years later, she published her first adult novel, Red is for Murder. In all, she penned more than 75 books, including three textbooks.

She was in her nineties when she published her last novel, Amethyst Dreams (1997), but she was still writing when she died: she left behind an unfinished autobiography.

I am sure her readers and admirers wish she'd had a little more time. But isn't it wonderful that she kept writing for as long as she did?

"It's hard to come up with a 'quote' about myself. Perhaps I could say that most of my writing has been concerned with understanding between people. Whether of different races, or religions, or even in the same family I tried in my books... to deal with the subject of understanding the other fellow."

-- Phyllis A. Whitney

You can read more at Phyllis A. Whitney's official website.


Katie Alender said...

52? Looking at your photo, I would hardly guess half that!

Brittanie said...

I agree. You look like you are in your late 30s. :)

Brenda Coulter said...

Well, thanks, but I don't believe that photo is a very good likeness of me--except for the fact that I usually do have those wires coming out of my ears.

Julana said...

Thank you for the update on Phyllis WHitney. I loved her books when I was young. Good storyteller.