Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Youth Rant, Old Argument

Did you know that Neil Simon was 30 years old before he wrote his first play? The author of some of the greatest Broadway comedies (see: the Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, Last of the Red Hot Lovers) didn't get his "start" until he was old.

Older. I meant older.

Like me.

This gives me unimaginable hope.

(Technically Neil Simon wrote for the Golden Age of Television's funniest shows in the 50s, so he was a writer in his 20s, but not a NAME. His name was not on the marquee.)

I live in the same world you do: where "talent" and "success" are prepackaged, televised, and shoved down our throats. Individuality is out the window. In order to be a "great" singer, actor, writer, etc., you must be no older than 26.

I've been seriously worried about this. I'm not kidding. Each year I get eight new gray hairs over my temples and I get one year further away from stardom.

Okay, I don't want to be a star. Writers are not celebrities. I would love to be a success, though, and there's a part of me that keeps wondering if aging is pulling me further away from that?

You laugh. You scoff. You guffaw at my lameness. But I am serious.

I can't pick up the newspaper, go online, or watch television without seeing youth served while my favorite actors are getting older while in fewer movies; my favorite novelists are older and not producing anymore; my favorite musicians...okay, my favorite musicians are all from the 80s. Bad example.

The point is, and I KNOW age has nothing to do with being a writer, I'm still a bit edgy about our culture celebrating a celebrity's YOUTH, not his or her talents per se.

Know what I mean? Is it me or are we enamored with their youthfulness first, their talent second?

Okay. Fine.

You're right.

I'm putting off writing by talking about how afraid I am that my age is hindering my chances of being successful when really the only thing hampering my chances of success is...well...not writing.


  1. Will all that's going on in life...it is a woner you can EVER write!

    Stop trying to measure your success.
    YOU HAVE MORE THAN MANY. 6 beautiful children, a lovely wife, and one published novel.

    I am without doubt, there is more to come for you.

    Have faith in me...in your talent!

  2. I remember back when my goal was to be the youngest to do something. I don't remember it really mattering what, per se, although it was always things that interested me. Flying, writing, etc. Just whatever appealed in the record book, I suppose. I never did get one of the records, but it quickly stopped mattering as I realized that I was more impressed by people who kept at things for years and learned and shared.

    For me, it isn't where one starts, but where one ends and what one offers on the way that is impressive.

    So far, I'm quite impressed by you.

  3. You're pretty old already, by some standards, but take heart. I'm older. Way older. And way farther behind in the writing thing.

    Compared to me, you ARE Neil Simon.