Thank you Joanna Walsh. In The Guardian, she asks, “Why must the ‘best new writers’ always be under 40?”
A great question and well answered, as fiction is in no way exclusively a young person’s game.
In fact, to me a writer resembles wine: age should only make us better. Consider the depth and breadth we have to draw upon:
We (may) have:
- been many people: a child, a teenager, a new parent, a husband/wife, a divorcé(e), an empty nester, the caretaker of aging parents, the bottom of the totem pole at work and perhaps the top.
- experienced many relationships: friends, family, children, loves that explode and loves that fizzle and loves that hold steady over time.
- lived in and travelled to many places, from the big cities of the world to tiny rural communities, and tasted the vast differences in the ways people live.
- held many jobs and developed many skills and dedicated ourselves to myriad hobbies.
- lived through world events that, to a younger crowd, are simply history.
- had years’ more time to read books and undergone many reading preference phases.
- had years’ more time to write, if time and inclination have allowed.
That’s not to say the experiences of under-40s can’t be as rich. Depending on the life lived, they may be more so. Mathematically speaking, however, chances are we’ve got the upper hand.
So what if we didn’t make Top 40 Under 40 or Top 30 Under 30? We have made it, elsewise, in so many ways. As for creating list-worthy fiction, we’re ready when we’re ready.
I love how Walsh sums up her argument:
I’m excited when I read a new voice I love, whether it speaks through bee-stung lips, or false teeth, or anything in-between.