The Autumn Voices project officially started in November 2016. Since then I have met and interviewed the following Scottish writers, all of whom are over 70:
Larry Butler; Jenni Calder; Anne Clarke; Stewart Conn; David Donnison; Douglas Dunn; Vicki Feaver; Henny Lee Gershuny; Alasdair Gray, Carl MacDougall; Bernard MacLaverty; Sheila Templeton.
The oldest of these is David Donnison at 92. My thanks to all of them for their willingness to put their busy lives on hold while they talked to me, often for over two hours, and for being so interesting about what ageing has meant to them.
In the coming months interviews will be taking place with James Kelman, Richard Holloway, Diana Hendry, Pauline Pitt-Prior, Alison Prince, Sheenagh Blackhall and John Purser.
During the last three or four months I have been talking to Marc Sherland, President of the Scottish Association of Writers. about launching a writing competition for writers over sixty. A look through The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook or The Writers’ Handbook reveals how many competitions, prizes and awards are for writers under forty, thirty-five, thirty, or for ‘young writers’ and how few are for writers in later life (like none). It wouldn’t be so bad if these opportunities were offered to new writers, rather than young writers, because many people take up writing on retirement – but this seldom happens. So, as a counter-balance to this sort of ageism in the publishing world, the Autumn Voices Over 60s Writing Competition has now come into being, open to anyone in the world as long as the entries are in English. See the relevant blog page for details about how to enter, conditions of entry etc.
The questionnaire I have been preparing is now ready. In addition to the views of established writers about the relationship between their work and the ageing process, I am very keen to know what other writers have to say on these matters – writers who are part-time and only published occasionally or not at all. To this end, I have now put together a questionnaire and would be really grateful if as many of you as possible (writers over 60) would go to the relevant page of this blog and complete the questionnaire.