old, cranky

Narrative Magazine is holding a 30 Below Story Contest, calling all 18-30 year old writers to submit work.

30 seems to be the cutoff line for “prodigies.” Think of all the lists that end with “…under the age of 30”–the Granta list not excepted.

I know I sound old and cranky when I say this, but I really am not interested in reading work by most writers under the age of 30. What do you learn before the age of 30 that you should share with the world? Generally speaking, not much, given what I read from most writers under 30: traveling to a foreign country for the first time, young love relationships, cohabitation, beginning a career, etc., dosed with the all-important angst. There’s something fresh about it sometimes, because of the writer’s prose…but overall, not interested!

I read my own writing under the age of 30, and it bores me to DEATH.

Update: Heather reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s essay on writing after the age of 30–I’ve been meaning to blog about it. It’s a good essay to read if you’re over the hill thirty years old, in that its encouraging. But also a statement of the obvious: that genius is linked with precocity, and that some people are late bloomers. And that for some people, the best work is yet to come.

Whose best work came later in their career (even if “later” means mid thirties)? Clint Eastwood’s directorial work…Toni Morrison…Frank McCourt…



Filed under Publishing, Writing

7 responses to “old, cranky

  1. F. Scott Fitzgerald published Gatsby when he was 29!!

  2. well–i didn’t say ALL. πŸ™‚

  3. Oh, don’t even get me started on how bad those contests and lists make me feel about myself. Really… don’t! πŸ˜‰

  4. And then there’s our former classmate, LK. But I try not to think about my age!

  5. heather

    I hope you saw Malcolm Gladwell’s piece on “Late Bloomers” a few weeks in the New Yorker… it made me feel much better about not having anything published yet. Everyone loves the idea of the young fresh new writer. But, as a poet once told me, “you’re going to work for the next ten years after your MFA submitting and getting rejected, submitting and getting rejected. If you’re still writing at that point, you’re a writer, and only then will you start getting acceptances.” I guess that “advice” was bleak, but I appreciated hearing her truth! πŸ™‚ (And I’m still writing…sorta…slowly…kinda.)

  6. heather: Yah, I read Gladwell’s article on “late Bloomers”–but it was SUCH a statement of the obvious. The only cool thing about it was that someone chose to write about it at all. πŸ™‚

  7. toni morrison was 40 when she published “the bluest eye”. i’m cool with blooming late. 36 already. i get cranky every time i see those “under 30” contests, too. and got even crankier when my under 30 friend mentioned one to me.

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