Wednesday, 3 October 2012
How old is too old?
I've started to panic a little about my age. The numbers just keep going up and up each year, like a cog turning. There are more and more candles on the birthday cake and soon the baker will be running out of room, which is frightening. I still have the photo of myself blowing out one solitary candle; the angelic face and the pretty, red dress and I wish I had started early!
I began writing fiction seriously about six or seven years ago and the guff I churned out was cringeworthy. The POV was all mixed up - one minute the reader was at the zoo, the next minute, back home. Dinner was eaten before it was served and my characters changed their handbag colours more times than their underpants.
I started writing this book purely to pass time when there wasn't anything decent on the telly. I occasionally visited a few writers' websites and learned that there was indeed this thing called 'POV' and that one wrote in either the first person or third person or rarely, the second person. I then filed said book under 'recycle bin' because it was autobiographical rubbish, and moved on to the next. I made a vow to really make a go of this one.
Anyway, several submissions later (I only tried a few agents) I noticed a publisher was open to subs and the books they published were, to use the old cliche, right up my street. It piqued my interest, so I sent in my goods and signed the contract shortly after.
But hovering in the back of my mind is the worry of being too old to start being an author proper. At 37 am I over the hill? We read about all these debut authors, many of whom are self-published, and they wrote their books at the age of 25 or 29 before they fell over the thirties hill. I realise I am well over the thirties hill and fast approaching the forties mountain of doom.
By contrast, other careers enable us to reach a peak at about 30 to 34, as we start around the age of 23. At 23 I could never have written a book. I was just out of university and being an author was this thing that other people did. I merely studied their works.
I take comfort in the fact the wonderfully talented Hilary Mantel is no spring chicken and she's going strong.