Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Who Am I?

I am a demographic! No, really. Aging is, as we know, a messy business, bringing mixed feelings, mixed messages, mixed everything. What to wear, where to go, with whom, why? Well, I have decided to be my own category. Last evening while Duncan the Dog was getting his hair done, I sat in a nearby coffee shop and read the new issue of Poets & Writers. It may be a subliminal response--Tony Morrison with her gray hair and straight-on confidence sits on the cover--but I looked at an ad for a writing residency and wanted it. I looked at the young people in the ad and hesitated. Would I fit in? Would I even be considered? Who takes a senior citizen seriously? Well, John McCain might, but this situation calls for a different, more personal, political stand. So, here goes.

I am an emerging woman writer at the (almost) age of 65. There, it's out, in print, no backing down. For years I've felt the weight of time: I'm too old for success, I'm out of touch with the newest trends in publishing, I'm not Helen Hoover Santmyer. (She published a huge, best-selling novel in her 80's.) Who do I think I am applying for a prestigious award? Well, Mary Oliver was "discovered" at 63, and she's a force of and for nature in contemporary American poetry. My job now is to help raise consciousness about writers "of a certain age." It's not too late till they nail the cover on my coffin or I'm too dotty to spell my own name. I am going to apply for that residency and state proudly in my application just what niche I fit. This snail is sticking her neck out, and it feels good. Let's hear it for late-blooming roses, asters, winter wheat, and gorgeous fall foliage. Onward!

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