What happens when you get too old to be an Angry Young Man?
Nick Lowe, one of the people who drove a stake through the heart of corporate crap rock of the late 70's, has a new album, At My Age. I've only heard a few cuts from it and I like it, but what I like even more is this part of a review from The Week magazine:
"... the 58-year-old Lowe has delivered a set of excellent original songs and covers ... The pretension-free disc doesn’t try to be forward thinking—Lowe knows that’s for the kids, said Neil McCormick in the London Daily Telegraph. Other musical veterans should take a page from Lowe’s book: Instead of competing with their own pasts, they should “make music they actually like, with humility, passion, and all the skills they have acquired.”
Which leads me to writing novels. I'm a year younger than Mr. Lowe, and one of the problems I'm having with my WIP, the book I started sometime in the fucking Eisenhower administration, is that I know it doesn't have the edge it would if I was 25 years younger. And that bothers me. Because I'm reading books by Ray Banks, Victor Gischler, Duane Swierczynski and other young punks who are pushing the form.
And I'm not pushing anything, except old age. And I worry that I've lost a step or two. In fact, I know I have. And I see it in other writers I once admired. I'm reading a book right now by one of the revered names of the biz and while the story's OK and the pacing is what you'd want from an old hand, he's written one character that's strictly TV. I mean, sweet Jesus, some of the dialogue is so bad that I thought I was reading Gil Thorp.
So I worry. And I work. And I wonder if what I'm doing is worth a damn. Then I read what I've written and I like it and know that, in the end, that's what counts. That's the Looney Tunes Rule and it applies to everything.
The Looney Tunes Rule: Write What You Like And Others Will Like It Too.
Chuck Jones and Tex Avery said it in every interview - they didn't create those great cartoons to make kids laugh. They created them to make themselves laugh.
So, while I'm not pushing the genre the way some of my younger friends are, I'm writing what I like. No, I don't have the chops of Ken Bruen, but I'm going with the strengths of my age and in the words of that reviewer I'm going to make music I actually like, with humility, passion, and all the skills I have acquired.
It's the best I can do.
I'd like to open the floor to this question of age. Are there writers you think have lost something? Is it the young who push change? Age and writing. What do you think?
Talk to me.
Cross-posted to A Dark Planet