Last month (September 2017) the winners of the Autumn Voices Over 60 Writing Competition were announced on this blog, and the winning entry was posted. This month the 2nd and 3rd placed entries will be going up. The thinking behind having this competition was that while there are many competitions, prizes and awards for younger writers, there are very few for older writers. A glance through The Writers and Artists’ Yearbook or The Writers’ Handbook will bear out what I say. If you are over 40, or even worse, over 60, you will find that you are ineligible for a large number of opportunities. And all too often the phrase ‘emerging artists’ turns out to be a euphemism for younger artists.
One might argue that younger writers and artists in general need encouragement and that they have much more of their lives ahead of them than do we oldies and crumblies, and that they are our future. Yes, I would agree with that, but it needn’t be an either/or situation. If you are one of the many people who didn’t start writing until retirement, you could, these days, have more than a quarter of a century of creativity and productivity ahead of you. This is not something we can ignore any longer.
For these reasons I am very pleased to welcome guest blogger, Joy Howard, who writes about the Grey Hen Press which encourages and runs competitions for women writers over 60.
I quote (again) from my interview with Jenni Calder :
‘There are plenty of examples of writers who don’t get published until well into later life. If you haven’t been published or had success by forty, fifty, sixty, or even beyond that, it’s not the end of the road. I think the important thing is to encourage, not young writers, but first-time writers, whatever their age. The early stages of a writer’s career are just as likely to be in their sixties as in their twenties. There are lots of awards for writers under thirty. There should me more encouragement for people starting out, whatever their age. I’m fairly sure that there are more readers over sixty than in any other age group and a lot of them prefer books written by authors who are themselves mature.’
I have heard it said that, in the eyes of some publishers, a CV showing an impressive list of publications earns minus points, not plus points. It indicates that you have been around too long and, therefore, are not young, sexy, interesting or exciting. I have to say, I’m more open to believing that after receiving a rejection letter. It could be for entirely different reasons, of course, that those letters keep coming.
What do you think? I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has experienced ageism in the publishing world.