Are We Ever Too Old?
By Author Donna Jean McDunn
Back in 2008 when I seriously began writing, I wondered if I was too old too make a career out of writing at my age? And then I thought who cares? I mean I’m not talking about endangering anyone with words. It’s not like I asked, am I too old to drive? (I’m not just so you know.)
The only people I plan on hurting are the characters in my stories and they expect it. I wouldn’t want to disappoint any of them by not writing the story my characters want told. I had to learn this the hard way, just like most of the things I’ve learned in my life. Nothing ever comes easy for me it seems.
Anyway, I once was going to write a story for an assignment in a writing class I was taking. The story was going to be about an elderly lady who felt she didn’t have a reason to keep living. She’d outlived all of her family and friends. She felt useless and life held no meaning for her. Then a little girl moved in next-door who reminded her of someone from her past.
The story I planned to write would be told from the old women’s point of view. When I described this story to my instructor, he said he didn’t think it would work. He said I should use the little girl as the point of view character. He thought the ten year old should learn something from the old lady and not the other way around. He even gave me suggestions on how to do it.
I was disappointed, but he was the instructor and I had always tried to follow the instructor’s advice, even when I didn’t agree with it. After all, he was the published author and if he said it wouldn’t work, well…I was just learning and I wanted something people would believe and enjoy. So I started writing it his way.
I must have started over a dozen times. The story just wasn’t working. I needed to be in the head of the old lady, not the little girl. After several days of working on the story with no progress, I came to realize the characters were trying to tell me something. So I went with my instincts and wrote it the way I had planned in the beginning. When I emailed it to him, I apologized for not doing it his way and then I waited.
When I received the edited manuscript a couple of weeks later, I was afraid to read his letter. But this is what he wrote: “I’m really glad you ignored my advice! This is a very poignant story and a very well told one. You make the Casey-Betty encounter work perfectly, both artistically and logically. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
I was ecstatic. I was so glad my characters had made me listen to what they wanted. After all it’s the character’s story, not mine. I won’t make that mistake again. On the other hand, maybe I’m getting senile enough, my imagination is…well…imagining things. Of course, isn’t that what fiction is?
So do writers get too old to write? What do you think? Do you listen to your characters?
If I’ve picked your interest at all in reading A Reason Too Live, it will be available online at:
Page & Spine: fiction showcase – The Front Page later this fall. But please, don’t wait till then to check out their website. They have a lot of great stories waiting to be read.
An Update: On Saturday August 11, 2012 I received an email from Muse It Up Publishing. They want to publish my manuscript NIGHTMARES. Of course I said yes and signed the contract. I’m waiting to hear if they will change the title. The publisher has the right to change it if they feel another title would work better. A tentative release date is set for May 2013. I will be sure to update again as soon as I get any more news.
As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, follow, or Tweet.
My Facebook author page is: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423
It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.
My young adult short story Trapped was chosen as one of nine winners in The Young Adult Mystery Times Nine 2012 Short Story Competition. The list of the nine winning authors and their story titles can be viewed at: (13) Buddhapuss Ink LLC Click on “see more” to view the entire list. The winning stories will be published together sometime in September or October. I will update then.
My first adult short story, Saving Katie has been published at: www.thepinkchameleon.com a free magazine. Once on the site, scroll down the page until you see Short Stories. Click on that and the list of short stories will appear. Find “Saving Katie”.
Some of my work can be found online: My children’s story Pack Leader can be found at: www.knowonder.com also a free magazine. Once on the site type in the title of the story in the Search Engine at the top of the page and it will take you to the story.
I also have a children’s story, The Golden Stallion online at: www.storiesthatlift.com. This too is a free magazine. Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories. There is a Search Engine on this site also.
In May 2012, my children’s story, Gus’ Big Adventure was published at: Bumples Magazine. http://www.bumples.com/ A subscription is required to read these stories, but if you have children between the ages of 4-10, it might be worth it. It’s a very entertaining website.