Here’s a question for you…do you take your age into consideration when making your writing career goals? Your life goals that aren’t writing related? Have you changed your goals based on how old you are and what you have or haven’t accomplished?
I had my first essay published in a major newspaper when I was 42. My first novel was published by St. Martin’s Press when I was 49. At 50, I’m ready to ramp up, not slow down, or even accept the status quo in anything. I do know that birthdays are milestones, a way to mark time and accomplishments. Even in THE GOOD NEIGHBOR, my next novel, my main character, Izzy Lane, uses her own 40th birthday as a deadline to make a big change in her life. Birthdays are relatable. We all have them (when we’re lucky).
Today, Meredith Schorr shares her fear of turning 30 and then 40 — and how her next book tackles the age-old topic of women aging–what that means, and what it doesn’t.
Please welcome Meredith to WFW!
An Author Fearing Forty
As a voracious fan of humorous women’s fiction, I’ve read a considerable number of books about a twenty-nine year old woman who is freaking out about the prospect of being single at the ripe old age of thirty. The running theme is that thirty is a major life milestone by which you must be married or else you’ll be designated a spinster. These books make me roll my eyes since I didn’t give much thought to my unmarried status or the viability of my ovaries when I turned thirty. Perhaps this was because I was still in the twenty-something partying phase and had so many friends who were single too. In fact, only a small percentage of my social circle was married when I turned thirty. To me, thirty is still very young, there are many fertile years left, and most women don’t even know what they want until they’ve lived through their twenties and had a chance to figure it out. In my humble opinion, it would behoove a woman to wait until at least thirty to consider getting married.
Turning forty, well that was an entirely different animal for me. I was not okay with it. In fact, I was terrified. From the day I turned thirty-nine, I counted down the months and then the weeks and then the days until my fortieth birthday with an increasing sense of dread and nausea in my belly. This is because aside from several more expertly-covered gray hairs, I didn’t look much different at thirty-nine than I did at twenty-nine and although my partying preferences had definitely slowed down a bit—choosing to have drinks before dinner instead of drinks instead of dinner—my lifestyle was the same as well. I still wasn’t married and I still didn’t have kids. Although a decade prior, I was not concerned by this, I definitely was now. I was afraid after I turned forty, my genes would fail me and I would begin to look older and lose my appeal to men before I found someone to love who would love me back. I was afraid people would start to refer to me behind my back as an old maid or question my sexual preferences. Although I’m not certain I want children, I didn’t like the idea that if I waited much longer, it might not be my decision to make. In short, forty felt like some magical number by which I had to make things happen or risk losing my window to settle down. I was not alone in this fear. I had several attractive and intelligent girlfriends in my age-range who were also single and counting down to their fortieth birthday with dread. Although it made me feel better to know I was not the only one, the relief was not substantial, especially because some of my friends spent our nights out complaining about the lack of decent, attractive, available men.
Almost every book I’ve read about a woman in my age group focused on her early mid-life crisis. Either she was facing an identity crisis, having spent the last decade taking care of her husband and raising kids, or she was divorced after her husband left her for another woman, or she was divorced and sleeping with a twenty-five year old man, or her husband had passed away and she was looking for a second chance at love. Many of these novels were very interesting and well-written, but I yearned for a book that spoke to me and my friends—about women who, for whatever reason, were still single at forty and still seeking their first chance at real, committed, long-term love. And so I decided to write it. My fourth novel, How Do You Know? is being released on December 2nd by Booktrope. It is about thirty-nine year old Maggie Piper who is torn between a desire to settle down by her fortieth birthday and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. Although the book is fictional, through Maggie I was able to express the anxiety I faced as I approached the big 4.0.
For the record, turning forty was not so bad for me after all. Admittedly, it was probably because I had an amazing boyfriend at the time. We’ve since broken up and I am single (but dating) again. Although my worries have not disappeared, it has occurred to me that while my relationship status might not have changed since my early thirties, I have accomplished so much in the past decade of which I am incredibly proud, including the publication of three (almost four) successful novels. I try to keep this in mind when I find myself engaging in a pity party. Relationships are a big part of life, but other aspects should not be underrated. Just because I haven’t reached certain life milestones at the same rate as others doesn’t mean I won’t reach them eventually and when it is right.
After all, there are no deadlines in love.
A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to, and was famous among her friends for writing witty birthday cards. After trying her hand writing children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing “real chick lit for real chicks.” When Meredith is not hard at work on her current work in progress, she spends her days as a trademark paralegal. She is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner. Meredith has published three novels, Just Friends with Benefits, A State of Jane and Blogger Girl.