First - a warning. I'm going to get "snarky" here - but at the same time I intend this to be a serious post - about ageism in the world of "literature." Also - watch out for swearing. I apologize in advance. Of course, ageism is rife everywhere and has been since the dawn of time - with a few blips on the radar according to fads and people's personal opinions, imperatives etc.
When I wrote The Willow Lake Group - I deliberately made the majority of the characters 40+ - for a good reason. Older people have a history - usually interesting. It's a no-brainer that young people have histories too - albeit short and maybe not so sweet.
As I stand on the precipice of the fifty year mark - begrudging and horrified that time has flown by so fast - I find myself continuously disgusted at the onslaught of youth-based storylines, book covers and audience targeting. It wasn't long ago that I was frequently attending heavy metal concerts - among others - and getting into and up to things that could easily make a younger person rear back in terror. (Well - certain younger people!)
The thing I loathe most about younger people and their world of selfies, crap music, shitty movies and TV shows (not to mention their stupid revelations about things they assume they invented, created, discovered - such as sex, drugs, the wonders of the world, philosophy etc.) - is that they are always portrayed as more relevant, important and worthy of the world's attention.
Now - I'll say the following to show that I have my tongue firmly planted in my cheek - not all young people are blase, banal, precocious, annoying, stupid, vacuous and so on. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I've met some young sages and some old morons - but we can't always blame the younger generation for the overblown focus the media and society bestows upon young people.
Sometimes it's us oldies doing the focusing and pandering. We need to stop it - and start focusing on our own grandeur and what we have to offer. It's not that we don't try and maybe we're fighting a losing battle.
Here's the skinny (or at least - my two cents) on humans - in regards to the cult of youth:
Now - that's all I can think of - as it's early and blah blah blah.
When I started writing the Storming Archives (my fantasy series) - I deliberately chose thirty as the age of my protagonist - Delwyn. In previous incarnations she was a teenager and the first book - Delwyn of the Realms - was in the young adult vein. Then I discovered all the rules and regulations about writing for young people and was promptly turned off.
We have to remember that it's not the young people making the rules - it's us oldies - in terms of what we deem fit for those precious and supposedly unadulterated minds. Meanwhile - they continue (as they always have throughout the history of the world) to delve into sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll (or - sex and drugs and elevator music.) When depicted in art, literature, film etc - young people can't be seen smoking, doing drugs or having sex.
Mind you - they can blast the head off a zombie, slaughter innocent people, burn buildings down and cause general destruction of the world as we know it. Us oldies don't give a shit about that - as we too want to see the world burn. (At least - some of us!)
I decided in The Willow Lake Group, to depict a group of older people - 40+ - living full lives involving love, chaos and other wonderful things such as food, literature and good wine. There are three younger characters - who have their own stories - intermingled with the older characters. I did my best not to paint them with the stupid brush - showing the multiple sides of their personalities just as much as the older characters.
In particular - I talk about a young man (Liam) falling in love with a woman's handwriting. That woman is Sondra - a 40 year old witch who cooks for the Willow Lake Group. Yes she is beautiful and yes she falls in love with a man (Gavin - the narrator - who's 42.) There's also the owner of the Willow Lake Bookstore - William (68). He is a widower who mourns his beloved wife but is kept going by the colorful characters surrounding him.
Then there's the two lesbian lovers - Delia and Beth (in their 50's); Stanley - the deeply closeted 52 year old; Alan - the fisherman with a heart of gold (57); April - Stanley's shy, best friend (49) and Mick - a robust 54 year old fisherman who enjoys annoying people.
I had so much fun writing this story - which involves poetry, food, obsession and love - with full back stories for all the characters. I used some of my memories of the wonderful people I've met on my "journey" and made up the rest.
I deliberately chose a non-romantic cover - meaning no canoodling couples or women with their dresses "accidentally" falling away to reveal heaving bosoms. I wanted to be altruistic - which will probably shoot me in my foot (which is already full of bullet holes - due to my stubborn clinging to idealism!)
A pleasant surprise for me during the writing process, was the notion that I didn't have to spend too much time raving about the good looking characters or cooking up blase scenes and plot twists to serve as further pandering to reader's supposed lust for banality. I was able to focus on telling a good story - filled with mini-stories and background - fleshing it out with poetry and humor. I received a review which hasn't been posted yet:
"One of the best novels that I have read so far:D I couldn't put it down."
(I didn't pay for that review and she's not my friend, mother, sister, coworker!)
That's another thing - getting reviews! It's also another post. I plan to write about my trials and tribulations with being a self published author and navigating the world of marketing and promoting - at a later date.
I find it daunting when I see certain types of books getting so much attention - particularly romance. I write about romance, love and sex - sure - but there's so much more to write about. The thing is - there are great authors out there doing just that - and I aim to become one of them. With ten writing projects slated for 2016 - I'm already up to chapter eight in my gothic horror "City of Gargoyles" - I hope to be an established and well known author by the end of the year.
This means hard work, increasing my knowledge about who and how to market/promote to - as well as honing my skills. I just don't want to have to pander to a demographic that has no interest in me or my writing. (I suppose it's too late to post an alert about pissing and moaning?)
What I love about younger authors (and their audiences) is their enthusiasm and technological know-how. Like a thirsty vampire - I drink from their pool or at least - dip my tongue in every so often. The problem is - nowadays it's easy to be self published. I should know - I'm one of the millions of authors doing just that. I like the feeling of being my own boss and in charge of my projects.
What is daunting is not having the connections or distribution portals that conventional publishing has in spades. I can't blame youth for that - and nor would I want to. I just want a little more altruism and intelligence - rather than having to slash my way through a market that mostly caters to youth, romance and beauty.
Signed - Crotchety Old Bitch.