For All the Non-Wunderkinds

Perfect timing for this topic, because my birthday is next week!

I’m turning 35, which to me has always been the age that marks Real Adulthood. I am not afraid of getting older. In fact, I’m looking forward to the precipitous drop in the number of fucks I have to give that seems to come with getting closer to 40 (when of course, all women become legally ghosts).

However, I’ll admit that I sometimes feel incredibly jealous of young writers. You know the ones: six-figure book deals by their 22nd birthday, breathless critics calling them “prodigies,” “wunderkinds,” whatever.

I spent my “wunderkind” years getting two mostly-useless graduate degrees and settling for boring but gainful employment in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. I didn’t start writing novels until I was 28; didn’t start writing decent ones until I was well into my thirties. When I hear about a writer way younger than me getting a book deal, there’s still a part of me that goes: shit, maybe I waited too long.

But when I back away from my petty jealousy and really think about it, I’m glad I didn’t become a published author in my twenties. I’m glad I had the chance to grow up a little first. I’m even glad my work got rejected as many times as it did. When I look back on the person I was at 22, that girl who blogged her every emotion, I think yikes. (And also: thank god I didn’t have Twitter back then!)

That girl was at all not ready for the intensity of the publishing process. The almost-35-year-old woman I am today may not be fully ready either, but I’m smarter, stronger, more resilient today than I’ve ever been before. There are certain things that can only come with age and experience, and I know my writing career is only going to get better as I accumulate more of both.

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Layne Fargo

Layne Fargo is a thriller author with a background in theater and library science. She’s a Pitch Wars mentor, a member of the Chicagoland chapter of Sisters in Crime, and the cocreator of the podcast Unlikeable Female Characters. Layne lives in Chicago with her partner and their pets.

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