I recently listened to an online forum called “Explosive Creativity in the Second Half of Life.” presented by Deanna Shoss of Intercultural Talk.
The topic caught my attention because one of the authors featured was Len Joy, award winning author of books including American Past Time and Everyone Dies Famous. Like Len, I was an aspiring writer in my youth but put this on the shelf, for various reasons, until I was much older.
The discussion was thought provoking but too short. I could have listened for much longer to the participants. I’ll focus on one topic that particularly caught my attention, the sometimes tricky issue of creating fictional characters from people in your life. I adhere to the belief that (almost) all fiction is autobiographical, and that no one builds a character from the void.
This brings me to the issue of creativity in later life. Living a long life gives you more material to work with, more people to draw from in creating a character. Certainly, there are young people who get there quickly, and there are formulas for crafting a story, such as the “hero’s journey” and murder mysteries, but even those are made richer by a lifetime of experience.
The list of people who found writing success in the last half of life is long, and includes Toni Morrison, Mark Twain, Marcel Proust, Annie Proulx, Henry Miller, and JRR Tolkien. With all due respect to the youthful brilliance of Mary Shelley and Stephen Crane, experience in living seems to be a real advantage.
I read. I write. I learn. I’m in a writing group and I have four published books. I’m still pretty sure I’m not Steinbeck, but my heart and soul have found their way back to where they should be.