Here’s a Question for You

When I had time to start writing seriously, three-four hours a day, in my mid-40’s, I felt as if I had suddenly retrieved a sense of life having direction and meaning—something that had been missing since the excitement (and naiveté) of youth. 

Many people in the Beginning Writers Workshop express similar feelings, as if they have found the path they’d been looking for, a path that finally feels right.

What is going on here?

20 responses to “Here’s a Question for You

  1. It may be part of the task of 40-somethings to regain a passion they have missed in the busyness of life. In some cases, writing is the outlet. Many 40-somethings talk about this kind of rekindling of meaning and purpose. Me, I’m still waiting.

  2. My middle age crisis didn’t work out. I had wanted to drive sports cars and date young girls. But all I could afford was college. So this 46 year-old construction worker, high school drop out, went off to the hallowed halls. After some spirited debate, I agreed to obtain a GED, they wouldn’t allow matriculation without it. I remember running to the library to look up the word matriculation. Oh, I was able to remember things and pass tests alright, but writing was a serious obstacle. My first paper was a cartoon show, the professor took me aside and asked why I couldn’t find work in construction. So I went to the school writing center for tutoring. I was discouraged, “I shouldn’t be here,” I said, “I’ll be 50 years old when I graduate.” The tutor replied, “How old will you be if you don’t graduate?” I thought that was a pretty funny, comedy always inspires me. I graduated eventually. I still don’t drive sports cars. And I still don’t date young girls. And I still write bad…badly. So what am I doing here?

  3. zenaciousgrace

    Hi Ann, one of those 40 somethings from your beginning writing class chiming in here (Larry). For me, I have only just recently had time to stop running around and I’ve found time to stop, breathe and smell the roses. My youngest goes off to college this year and now there’s some “me time” that wasn’t there before. I play the guitar and I write. Lately, I’m just writing. I’m picking up the number of hours per day that I write. I try get at least two hours a day done. On my two days off, I write most of the day. I’m going through a very inspired phase right now and I hope it keeps going.

  4. Hi Ann,
    Larry here, from your Beginning Writers Workshop. I turn 45 later this year and my wife and I are facing an empty nest by September. Our daughter, the youngest of three, goes off to college then. I’ve discovered a lot of spare time that I’m not use to having as a result of having older kids who are all independent. I’m writing more and more. I try to write at least two hours per day and I usually write for several hours on each of my two days off. I’ve been reading more books and blogs lately and have gotten really inspired by what I’m reading. I’m feeling like I have something to contribute, stuff that others may want to read. Upon completing your class in a few weeks, I’ve got three or four others that I can’t wait to take. I love your class and I practice constantly.

    • You might also try writing a blog of your own. It’s one more way to keep writing! It’s good to hear from you.

  5. Waldo,
    What are you doing here? By my measure, writing delightful prose!

  6. Perhaps it is a phenomenon of flow. The years leading up to 40’s are a time of information consumption and physical output in action such as raising a family, building homes and businesses. At the middle-age point, the influx of data reaches critical mass and the valve for export of thoughts and ideas opens. The creative self demands to be expressed in some form such as painting, photography, song, dance or prose. Creativity can only be confined for so long before it bursts out of the confines and takes control.
    Humans were designed to be creative and for that reason, we feel incomplete until that instinct is satisfied. One can experiment with several types of creativity before discovering the “Sweet Spot”; the form that best fits your aptitude, energy and sensitivities. When you discover your authentic creative core, you have found your sanctuary and productivity.

    • When I was 21, I thought I’d write a book about my life, calling it, of course, “Gullible’s Travels.” After a few false starts, it occurred to me that perhaps I should have a life first and then write a book. Naturally, one needs to include the very best thing that ever happened in one’s life in such a book, and since I’m hoping that hasn’t happened yet, I still haven’t written a memoir. Everything to date has been research. Just fasten your seat belt and hang onto the roll bar when I do.

    • peanut i agree with you. we can run free over the written word or what ever meidum you choose

  7. navigatorswalk

    Writing is a way to escape even if just for a few sentences. You can suddenly find yourself in an exotic place, facing danger or facing love. You can drive that sports car or date that young beauty, and never leave your chair. You can take a writing prompt and run in any direction that you choose, escaping reality if only for a few sentences. Writing is only limited by our imaginations, and as I have seen here, those imaginations can be unlimited.

  8. Well, what is going on here? Some of us did,t feel good in our skin till later in our lives. We never felt we had much to say or if anyone would listen. But when we took a B.W.W. course , Ann listened to us . The encouagement was like breathing life into us. We also got feedback from fellow students,which made us feel good. We could then forge ahead trying more writing, finding out we had a lot to say and people would listen.
    We could let our inner self out and not be afraid of rejection. Frankly I don’t care if someone does’t like what I write, As long as i like it. I will not hurt anyone but I will write for my enjoyment. If luck goes my way someone will like it. Even if it is only one person, I will feel like I did something. To give pleasure to one person is grand. Making people look at a written word and think of what and why we wrote it is the iceing on the cake.
    To give a voice to a bird or chipmunck is fun. Maybe some day it will be a book for my new great grand son. Then I will have left something to encrouage him to write too. I believe that is what is going on here. A kind of rebirth for ones soul and mind.

  9. What is going on here? I have discovered a bonus since I started writing. I love to write, yes. But I also love the writing community. I love the way writers think, their comments and ideas, and I love joining in these conversational threads. I sometimes enjoy the comments as much, or more than the original piece. Writers are an adventurous bunch, but they’re also warmhearted and supportive, the type of people I’d be proud to borrow money from.

    • I like everything you said Waldo except the borrowing money. Writers are usually poor living in cold flats on the third floor. we can give you idears and corrections but money is a bit much.S hare a bottle of wine ,cheese and crackers. Yes But money is a no no.

  10. Oh well, too bad about the no money thing, I guess I’ll get by. I love your post on the joy of writing, even if you only touch one person. Even if that one person is only yourself. That is the way I feel also. I already have an income, so I made a commitment when I first started writing. If I ever do get published, and if I make any money, I plan to donate it all the a charitable cause. That will be my way of celebrating the gift of writing. I’m not sure what the cause will be, maybe the National Foundation for the Prevention of Yeast Disease in Indigenous Antarctic Pedestrians, or something along those lines…

  11. To answer Ann, I think in our mid forties, we are feeling the inevitability of mortality, the beckoning of all we have left undone. The call to create, to be heard and to somehow, leave a permanent sense of self is a strong pull. We look at trees, rocks, beaches, landscapes, all unchanged for decades, perhaps centuries, yet we will only last, if we are lucky, for 100 years. What do we have to leave behind, to leave a final footprint on this earth? Certainly, we have family, friends, but will they tell our story accurately, and be certain that the story is handed down to others in an accurate, passionate fashion?

    By our mid forties, we have felt so much, learned so much and have just begun to feel life’s mortality. We want to record those intense emotions, those lessons, those experiences.

    We are torn between a world of feeling as if we’ve just reached adulthood, free, ready to experience, explore, experiment, find our way and a world of responsibility, rules, being a role model for our children. It makes us want to have an escape, to explore words, emotion, and fantasy. To attempt to discover, “what if?”, to describe ourselves as we once were, dream about the future, the past, what “could have been.”

    I know, typically I have a need to write about “silly things”. This is all “free writing” so I apologize for my ineptness.

    I visualize Ann cringing, choking back vomit as she gags reading this, but it is heartfelt. (I probably could have gone on and on about this topic, actually! But would feel terribly if this contributed to anyone’s self demise!)

    • Beachdog,
      On the contrary, I am a great fan of what I call being corny. That was also one of my discoveries in later in life that instead of loving and emulating all things “cool,” it was all right to be corny. After all that’s where we all live. Around that same time I also discovered that being “nice” was not a cliche or a vanilla description, but a true virtue. Heartfelt is good.

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