Lament of the Middle-Aged Emerging Writer

Writing life

Dear Phantom Reader,

How are you? It’s been a while.

Things are the same-old, same-old for me here in Berlin. I’m still writing and still getting nowhere with it publication-wise. I’ve been querying literary agents for the past several months and so far only have rejections and non-responses. A rejection from a contest I thought I might have a shot at pushed me over the edge and inspired this piece.

Enjoy, and pray for me please. ;)



The Lament of the Middle-Aged Emerging Writer

The lament of the middle-aged emerging writer starts with a lament about the word "emerging", as in emerging from what?

From that junk drawer in her desk, that detritus of rusty paper clips and dried out pens she’s been meaning to clean out for 17 years but then she opens it and thinks not today?

Or is she emerging from under a pile of rejection letters that don't exist because only the most stubborn of magazines exclusively accept mailed submissions, insisting it's forever 1998 – AOL is good enough for us, thank you very much.

Can one emerge from the endlessness of Submittable e-mail rejections or agent queries left unanswered? Why is a raven like a writing desk?

The lament of the middle-aged emerging writer are those well-meaning people who insist writers can emerge from wherever they emerge from at any age – ageism does not exist, rah-rah-rah!

The middle-aged emerging writer does a Google search about the average age of a writer publishing their first book and learns this average age is 36.2. The middle-aged emerging writer first wonders what those average-aged emerging writers were doing during those .2 months after their 36th birthday and hopes they were spending them on a beach in Mexico.

But then it occurs to her that if the average age of an emerging writer publishing their first book is 36.2, the middle-aged emerging writer’s first published book will soon be as much of an anomaly as a gifted teenager starting college at 15.9 – only the gifted 15.9-year-old anomaly college student does not have bunions or need bifocals.

The lament of the middle-aged emerging writer is Twitter. Everything about Twitter.

But especially that time when the middle-aged emerging writer tweeted something clever and witty and the only people who hearted the middle-aged emerging writer's clever and witty tweet were her cousin and the sister of a friend from high school she has not seen since high school.

On the same day, a much younger, long-past-emerging writer tweeted:

I had a ham sandwich today. It was good.

And this tweet got 865 hearts and 499 retweets. Let's not get started on the comments.

The dirge of the middle-aged emerging writer are those well-meaning people who point out some famous writers did not become famous until waaay after they were dead.

The lament of the middle-aged emerging writer is that this lament might become the most popular thing she will ever write. Half the people who read it will say it is not a lament at all, but rather a moan or complaint. The other half will heart it or retweet it and leave comments like, Ha ha, I can relate.

But these hearts and retweets and comments will still be far fewer in number than the hearts and retweets and comments for that famous, much younger, long-ago emerged writer's tweet about their tasty ham sandwich.

This will be a particularly bitter pill to swallow, because the middle-aged emerging writer does not like ham or even sandwiches really, which probably means she’s destined to fail.

The end.