Nicole Melanson ~
Sometimes it seems like all the writing awards / mentorships / grants etc. out there are targeting Young Writers™.
It makes sense that agents and publishers hope to find shiny new talent with the energy to parade around self-promoting and churning out new material year after year, for many years to come!
But older writers have experience and sagacity borne from decades of circling around the sun. They—or rather, I should say we—have seen some…stuff. And this perspective is an important part of the conversation about what it means to be human, which is essentially what all writing is.
I 100% believe even very young voices deserve to be heard, whether they’re raw, earnest, and idealistic, audacious and innovative, or wise beyond their years. But to cap “emerging writers” at 25 or 30 is like only publishing the first 150 pages of a 500-page book.
For too long, the literary world has ignored older voices—and older women’s voices, in particular. Women who’ve arrived at the writing game later in life might fear they’ve missed their opportunity to emerge altogether.
Fortunately, the publishing industry is finally cottoning on that there’s merit (i.e. money to be made) in stories from the after-40 set, as per this recent article in The Guardian: ‘Things are definitely opening up’: the rise of older female writers.
While the pandemic saw many artistic outfits falter, a lot of creative soul-searching also led to the development of new organizations, journals, presses, and prizes supporting the work of middle-aged and senior authors.
I have therefore added a new page to the resources section of WordMothers. This one’s a bit of a novelty in that many of the opportunities listed are also open to men, but I think it’s important for women to know that there are plenty of places to continue—or even begin—a writing career in mid-life and beyond.
I hope you find something of interest here: Opportunities for Older Writers
— Nicole Melanson