About Age, Attitude, and Working

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Last weekend, I was sitting around a kitchen table, meeting with a few adults, enjoying a delightful brunch. We were joined by my friend’s eight-year-old daughter. Out of the blue, she asked, “Do you work?”

I paused for a minute, thinking—oh, lots of things about how I work, if I work, this industry I’m still engaged with in a love/hate relationship. But to keep it simple with my new friend, I said, “Yes, I do. I’m a writer.” 

“An author,” she said, her voice dropping in that way we do when awestruck. (A tone I reserve for astronauts or rock stars.) 

The conversation moved quickly to the next topic but I was stuck, pondering this little girl’s reaction to what I do. To an eight-year-old, being an author was amazing! Whereas to a woman of a certain age (ahem), being an author is kinda… 

Ordinary. And I’m a bit ashamed about that. Not that I think I should be skipping around shouting, “I’m an author! Woohoo!” all the livelong day but neither should I forget what it took to get to that achievement, and how hard so many excellent writers continue to work, hoping to accomplish publication. 

So, yes, I need to kick my jaded attitude to the curb and reclaim my enthusiasm. Darn right, I’m an author and that’s awesome

And in the same week, in a conversation with my contemporaries, something came up about laptops. Or was it streaming? The point is, it had something to do with technology and of course, we were grousing about all the new-fangled stuff out there and some were, admittedly, done with it all. They’d stick with what they knew, thank you very much. 

And sitting at my desk later, laptop open and glitching over some time-consuming upgrade, I wondered when I would be done. 

Um…to clarify, I mean how much longer would I make the effort to stay in the game. Because as we all know, time and technology wait for no one. It’s constantly changing, this business of writing, and there’s no going back to our halcyon days. 

Writing will always be writing, sure, so people (I hope!) will always be required to come up with the ideas and write the thoughts. But how we edit, how we market, how we query—just to name a few—have changed by leaps and bounds! Much of what I learned five years ago has long surpassed the “use by” date.

We often resist change, but with age, it seems like we resist even more; we decide it’s just not worth the bother. But now that I think more about it, I wonder if it’s not so much the years stacked against us but our attitude. Maybe that old nugget is true, that you’re as young (or old) as you feel. And when we start thinking old, we wave the white flag. 

Honestly, there are days when I want to snatch up the white flag, wrap myself in it, and just take a nap. But then an eight-year-old girl comes along and reminds me that authors are awesome, no matter how old they are. And that makes me smile when I go back to work, trying to figure out yet another "helpful innovation" by some young whippersnapper.


Angela Mackintosh said...

Your friend's daughter sounds so cute. :) I still get a little awestruck when I meet an author of a book I've read.

I just bought a ranch that sits in a valley between two mountains, a river, and a national forest; so after we move in, I'll be going back to my Halcyon days of the 90s. No video streaming, satellite internet as slow as dial-up (until Starlink becomes available in my area) and using a landline because there's no cell service. I'm scared! But I remember when I owned an art gallery in the 90s and didn't have a TV. It was the most creative time of my life! I'm hoping to catch a bit of that fire while I'm working on turning the ranch into an artist retreat.

You should definitely be proud of your publishing accomplishments, Cath! I'm still working to put "author" to my name and had practically given up. I told myself I wasn't going to work on a book-length project this year, but now that I have this ranch situation, I think I'll have time to focus on a longer project.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Wow, Ang, I'd be a little nervous, too...though I think I'd be okay off the grid. Not having plenty of restaurants REALLY scares me! :-)

Seriously, it sounds like the perfect retreat spot. There's something about nature that jumpstarts my creative juices as well so I'm looking forward to hearing more. (And reading your memoir--you already are an author, Ang, it's just a matter of how you're going to publish.)

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