1 Under 100: Authors and Age

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We are talking about age this week, so let’s start off with the facts.

I was thirty-eight when I started writing THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING. I was forty-three when I sold the book. I will be forty-five when the book is published.

How do I feel about being forty-five when my book gets published? I don’t feel anything about it. I think my age is pretty much the least interesting thing about myself and my book. And besides, I’m too busy jumping around my apartment screaming OMG my book is getting published to worry about how old I’ll be when it happens.

I have to admit that I am not immune to the feather–ruffling effect of the Five Under Thirty-Five awards, the Twenty Under Forty lists, the endless articles titled Top Nineteen Writers Under Eighteen You Should Be Reading NOW–not because I begrudge the authors their youth, but because I can’t stand being excluded from anything. Too many not-being-picked—for the school play, gym team, group project, do I need to go on?—memories from middle school. I’ve been scarred for life. But I understand that the (young) age of an author is one way to market her book, the same way that my being a professional pastry chef will be one way to market my book. But what makes you want to read a book? Is it the story summary on the front flap or the author bio on the back flap? At the end of the day we read books for their characters, stories and language, not because someone young (or old!) wrote them.

What does worry me about the X under Y lists is that they can be discouraging to writers who come to their work later in life. I am here to tell you that it is not too late.

Did you catch that?

IT IS NOT TOO LATE FOR YOU TO START WRITING.

Are you a busy mom with no time to write? Make the time. Even just a half-hour a day, before the kids get up will get you started. Once you are deep into your project, you will find the time because you will be obsessed. Just remember, your creative dreams are as important as your kid’s creative dreams.

Feel like you have been out of school for decades and don’t know where to start? Take an adult-ed class or a continuing education workshop at your local university.

Arthritis making it hard to type? Invest in some voice-recognition software.

Just remember, there is no such thing as too late. Too late is when you are dead. Now get to work.

Here is some inspiration, from one of my musical heroes, Victoria Williams—her song on this very topic—Century Plant.

Please feel free to leave your best excuses about why it really is to late for you to start writing in the comments section below. I will happily crush them as soon as I can.

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Louise Miller

Louise Miller is the author of THE CITY BAKER'S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking/August 9, 2016), the story of a commitment-phobic pastry chef who discovers the meaning of belonging while competing in the cut-throat world of Vermont county fair baking contests. Find out more at louisemillerauthor.tumblr.com.

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Author: Louise Miller

Louise Miller is the author of THE CITY BAKER'S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking/August 9, 2016), the story of a commitment-phobic pastry chef who discovers the meaning of belonging while competing in the cut-throat world of Vermont county fair baking contests. Find out more at louisemillerauthor.tumblr.com.

2 Replies to “1 Under 100: Authors and Age”

  1. Hear, hear, Louise! As my grandfather used to say, You’re going to be 45 anyway. Might as well be 45 and…..publish your book, get the law degree, become an acupuncturist….

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