Lately, I've heard a bunch of chatter among other YA authors about the age you are when you get your book deal. As one of the elder statesmen of my debut class, being nearer the 50 side of my 40's, I understand the tendency to moan (and bemoan) the wriggly wunderkind of young authordom.
The YA world seems to be flooded with bright, young twenty-somethings, and even teen-somethings, landing lucrative contracts. It would seem that those of of us pushing greater decades, are in the minority.
It's EASY to get freaked out by this. To have wistful moments of lost youth, and OMG, they're going to write books from this point forward and be more in demand for speaking engagements (because they have NO grey roots!) and, and, and....
But I've decided to bless it and release it. These young, smart, talented authors were born in the information age. I did not own a personal computer until I was out of college. I didn't own a laptop until I was in my late 30's. Smart phones, yeah right. Think of the movie, THE HELP, and Emma Stone's character typing up that manuscript and mailing it off, old school style. Now think of today. The late nights I spent jamming out to Led Zeppelin while watching the guppies in my fish tank swim could have been spent, laptop in lap, researching publishing houses.
For young authors, all the information has been available to them, a button push away, for several years now. Agents, query advice, writing advice. But really, THIS IS GREAT. People can find their passion, THAT MUCH SOONER. Or they can pursue one dream early, then other dreams later. Whatever, I am honored and thrilled to be in their company.
As for me and my generation, I'm going to stand tall and sport my wrinkles with pride. (Grey hair, forget about it.) Life took detours for me. I zigged. I zagged. And I gathered life experience. For me, this is my perfect moment. I didn't do it when I was twenty. I didn't do it when I was twenty five. Or thirty. It took being thirty five to even have the ability to stop moving long enough to let a few words simmer.
All I'm saying is, if you're old like me, don't let the numbers get you down. Young authors are fantastic. So are older ones. We all bring a unique perspective to our storytelling. Write the best story and don't let statistics stop you.
My only advice is to have respect. Don't disparage those who hit the mark earlier than you or roll your eyes at those older than you. If you're a late bloomer, don't make apologies, be proud. Same goes for you teen and twenty something authors, you freaking did it! And for the love of all things sacred, don't ever start a sentence with, "Well, when I was your age....." Or if you're young and somebody my age does start a sentence like that, have some empathy, we're only trying to join in the conversation.
WRITERS OF EVERY AGE are great. They bring us stories. It's the only part that matters.