Last week’s New York Times featured an article that I absolutely loved, a piece by musician and author Edward Kelsey Moore on making his fiction debut at age 52. I’m always a little surprised at the way in which the media treats serious writers who produce their first works well past thirty (a literary debut at 52! Imagine that!) As if debut works should be written by actual debutantes.
I suspect that someone, somewhere has actually studied this, but by my unscientific reckoning, it seems to me that good writing gets better with age. Sure there are plenty of literary wunderkind, from John Keats to Jonathan Safran Foer, but to steal a line from Wordsworth (who was himself obsessed with the dimming of his genius as he grew older) I think it makes sense that folks who have an ear for “the still, sad music of humanity,” those who call upon decades of observation and experience in their work, who have perhaps been writing for years while pursuing other careers or raising families, should wish to write—and, amazingly enough–write well. Moore’s whole essay is worth reading, but at risk of ruining the punchline, I’ll include his final lines:
So, these days, the question “Aren’t you too old for this?” brings to mind a list of things that I’m definitely too old for. But I answer, “No, at 52, I’m not too old to be a debut novelist. But, luckily, I’m way too old to be the writer, musician or man I was at 30.”
How does your age inform your writing? Do you feel like you are coming into your own voice?