Friday, July 3, 2009

Age Criteria...Sadly Overrated & A Giveaway

In books and at conferences I've repeatedly heard reputable agents and editors say something to the tune of: "You need life experience to write, so people in their twenties or younger aren't likely to write saleable books."

I've always questioned that theory in the quiet recesses of my mind and heart, and not because I'm young. For the record, just so we're clear on this, I didn't start writing until I was nearing thirty-seven, and I'm now forty-three. I questioned it and still question it because it seems so unfair. No matter what age we are, if we're living, we're experiencing life, and thus we have experiences to draw on to write about. In some respects, being a young writer can be a huge advantage. Many firsts are still very fresh in your mind and what better time to get those firsts down on paper then when they're nearest and dearest to you?

Well, in these past few days my thoughts on this have been affirmed through reading a wonderful Steeple Hill book by Betsy St. Amant (a twenty-five year old wife, mother, and wonderful author). Return to Love just released on July 1st and it proved to me that not all agents and editors know it all.

It's sad to think that some young writers might take these naysayers to heart and set aside their dream for years, just to gain some experience before feeling worthy to share the stories that come to them. Think of all the wonderful stories we're missing because of this condescending attitude. So sad. I say, if you're old enough to put words together on the page, and study the craft of fiction writing, I don't care how old you are, write what you know! And if you're disillusioned and believe you know nothing, take a gander at Cindy Wilson's article about this very topic here.

I'll be interviewing Betsy on July 31stth, so I won't say anymore about her and Return to Love in this post, but instead, to celebrate I picked up two extra copies of Return to Love for giveaways. One for this week, and one for the week of her interview post. If you're interested in reading an Inspirational romance fit for you and your teenage daughter(s), neice(s), friend(s), let me know in the comment section and I'll add your name into the drawing. I'll draw the winner next Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at noon, and hopefully the winner will have a chance to read this wonderful fresh story before my interview is posted on the 31stth. Good luck everyone!

Surrendering to Him,



Jody Hedlund said...

I love to hear about a success story like that, Eileen! It's not our age so much as our talent, efforts to study the craft, and maturation as a writer.

Although I would have to say, personally,when I first started writing in my mid-twenties, I didn't have the depth to add to my writing that I do now. I'm thankful for the period of time that God pulled me off the writing path (almost nine years). Those years were a blessing because I learned so much about life, history, and even grew spiritually. This has added a richness to my writing that wouldn't have been possible earlier.

But all that said, God works in each of us differently. His plans are unique for each one. The important thing is to follow his leading with our writing, right?

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Hi, Jody, I definitely believe that we grow our report of experiences as we age, but some experience more than others in a far shorter time. And we also mature differently.

So for anyone to be so narrow-minded as to write-off young writers before they've even read their individual work is a loss to me. And I hate to think how many young writers are being discouraged by these general assumptions.

Jessica Nelson said...

Do you know what encouraged me to start writing when I was 23? A novel I picked up and in the author bio the author said she was 23. I was so impressed. I thought, wow, why can't I do this? It was a wonderful inspiration.
This Betsy is a great inspiration too. I'm 26 and I hope that, while I still have lots of experiences left, the ones I've already had will be good fodder for my stories. You know, many of the bestselling authors of today started in their twenties.

Katie Ganshert said...

Great post, Eileen. I'm 27. And I'm not letting age get in my way. We've all experienced the spectrum of emotions necessary to write a novel. Maybe not to the depth that others experience them, but the seeds are there. And to me, that's enough. On the other hand, there is something to be said about life experiences, and making sure we allow ourselves to live them (instead of living behind our computers...which I am often guilty of) that will add a richness to our stories.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I don't think age should matter at all. If God has given a person a call to write, He will see it through, regardless of life experiences or lack of them. :)
I'd love a chance to win and not just for me. Since I have been gathering up more books, my daughter has been coming in to my "library" to read. I'm sure it would be great for her too.

Faith said...

I'm 26, and I find it very inspirational to hear about younger authors getting published... it gives me hope! I'd love to read this book.

It's true that there's something to be said for life experience, but that doesn't mean a younger perspective has no value... it's sad to hear there are agents/publishers who think that way. The varied spectrum of views on life helps to make the stories we read so diverse and interesting. Besides, it's the skillful writer - of any age - who can take a great idea and bring it to life in a believable way.

MeganRebekah said...

Over at the Absolute Writer forum you'll find 16 and 17 year olds getting agents and publishing deals. It's definitely possible.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

hmm..i've hit the big 3-0 now. so maybe i'm in the mid-range? :) i believe betsy has really young children, too, doesn't she? anxious to read more about her interview.

thanks for the encouraging post. i'm interested in reading her book!

Linda W. said...

I'd love to read Betsy St. Amant's book. Please enter me. It is good to see younger people getting into the writing arena. Looking forward to your interview later this month.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Cindy R. Wilson said...

What an encouraging post. I definitely agree age isn't always a factor. I am looking forward to the interview with Betsy. I was surprised and impressed to find out not too long ago she was only 25, younger than me with children as well. It shows that talent and tenacity can come from any place at any time. Have a great weekend!

Susan R. Mills said...

When I look back at some of the things I wrote when I was younger, even as young as fifteen, I am amazed at the amount of emotion behind the work. Another way to look at the age thing is that as we grow older, we become more immune to the things that happen to us. In other words, our emotions are more subdued. In that respect, I think being young could actually be a benefit in writing.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Jessica, that's so cool, bet that author didn't know how influential she was either.

Katie: LOL, Are you living behind your computer lately? Good point though, we do need to experience life, so writing can't be the only thing going on in our lives. Though I'm not sure that anyone can really get caught in that trap.

Sherrinda, I've got the same thing going on with my eldest daughter. Aren't personal libraries great for sharing!

Here, here, Faith. Write on!

Megan, thanks for the reference. I must check that forum out.

Jeannie, I believe Betsy has one daughter. Your names in the bucket.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Linda, thanks for stopping by. I've put your name in the bucket too.

Cindy, God calls us all at unique times in our lives. I'm so glad Betsy followed His leading.

LazyWriter, that's so true. Writing it while it's fresh always results in a more vivid read I think. Definitely a benefit.

Jill Kemerer said...

Thanks so much for spotlighting Betsy's book.

How refreshing to see someone younger realize her dream! And I think many people in their early twenties are brilliant. Society tends to overlook them to focus on the physical--how sad.

Have a great fourth of July!

Lily Whalen said...

How I wish I'd started writing seriously in my twenties, Eileen! I'm with you - if a person is living, s/he has experiences to draw on, no matter what his/her age. And if s/he's willing to learn more about the craft of writing, what else is needed?! Go for it, I say!

Diane said...

I agree that any age can write and obviously younger people that haven't "lived it" have a greater imagination.

Erica Vetsch said...

Age is just a number. Story is story no matter how old you are when you write it.

God calls all different ages to serve Him through writing. I, for one, am glad, because I read lots of different-aged authors for different reasons. If we were all alike, we'd only need one of us to do the job. :)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Jill, I agree, no matter what age, we all have something we can share, and fresh perspective to share it from.

Susan, I've thought the same thing, but then I realize that wasn't my dream then. I was too busy studying math and then raising my babies. I'm a multitasker, but trying to write with little ones around definitely isn't a gift of mine. God's timing is always perfect.

Diane, that's interesting--a greater imagination. I'm not sure I totally agree with that, but maybe a broader spectrum to imagine? That I totally could see.

Erica, I wish my body didn't change so much with age, but in the writing world, yes, I agree, age is just a number. And I love reading from the broad spectrum of age too.

Emma said...

Return to Love sounds wonderful.Have a great weekend! Please enter me.
Thank you.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Eileen: I could not agree with you more! I am SO glad there were no agents and editors like that around when I started writing, or I probably would have given up.
I published my first article at age twenty-five, and was invited to be the editor of a magazine at twenty-six.
Yes, we, ahem, older ones have more experiences to write about, but that doesn't mean we are better writers. Only if we've worked hard and improved throughout the years...

Please enter me in the drawing; there's a teen girl at our church I'd love to share this with.

Audience of ONE

Emily Hunsberger said...

Hey Eileen,

I love this topic because its so close to my heart. I began writing when I was ELEVEN!!!! Let me tell you my writing was all pretty much crap:) I was really materialistic and visual when I was little, so my oldest writing is overflowing with little tiny details that do not matter at all! Too much backstory!!!!

Anyways, enter me too please!! sounds good. i'm: drama underscore girl24 at hotmail dot com

peachykath said...

I would love the opportunity to read something from a fresh author. I don't think that age should be the deciding factor in whether you would write a good novel or not. It comes from within. Please enter me in the drawing.


windycindy said...

Hello, What a wonderfully positive and inspirational post! How great to see a young person succeed. Her book sounds delightful and I could share it with my sister and my nieces. Please enter my name in your fun book giveaway drawing.
Many thanks, Cindi