When referring to older female writers, people often tend to refer to writers aged 35 and above. But the experiences of a 55-year-old writer publishing her book for the first time are going to be completely different to that of a 35-year-old. This completely disregards the many unprecedented difficulties and obstacles faced by older female writers in the world of writing and publishing.
That is why the following successful women writers (having published their first book after the age of 50) have come together to reveal their challenges they faced before publishing their very first book, and also to divulge the blessings and advantages that come with it.
Jimin Han was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up in the eastern New England area of the US. She is the author of the novel, “A Small Revolution,” and has been published many times in MPR’s Weekend America, Poets and Writers Magazine, Catapult and more. She currently teaches at The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College and at Pace University.
“The journey to publication for a small revolution is just full of fits and starts,” says Jimin Han. As an introvert, she abandoned her story so many times, but always ended coming back to her characters for some reason. After about the 50th or 60th time of abandoning her story (and more than 30 years later), the inspiration behind finally publishing her story was that of the small writing community that she was a part of.
So this is what she has to say to writers aged above 50:
- Find yourself a small writing community where you can share your thoughts and fears with.
- Surround yourself with likeminded writers who will always encourage you to do better.
- “Make yourself vulnerable, put yourself out there, ask for help, create communities, take classes, meet people.”
Geeta Kothari is the author of “I Brake for Moose and Other Stories,” and is a two-time recipient of the Fellowship in Literature from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She is also the Nonfiction Editor at The Kenyon Review, and has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Best American Essays. She currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.
When her collection of stories was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award, a publishing friend asked her to send her book for him. But, just like most of us, she assumed he was simply being polite and thought that her book was not a good fit for them. After an entire year went by, he asked her again for the book and she finally sent it off to him. That genuine interest then proved to her how good a fit it actually was.
Having experienced self-doubt and uncertainty about her writing herself, Geeta Kothari’s advice for writers aged above 50 looking to publish their first book is this:
- “Don’t say no to yourself. Other people will do it for you.”
- Aim for personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment when publishing your book, so every small win becomes a huge success.
- Indulge yourself by throwing a big book launch party, no matter how insignificant you feel your book is.
- Since older writers have a lot more on their plates, decide for yourself how many hours of the day you should dedicate for writing, but be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you couldn’t keep to it.
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.