Young people can write, I will admit that. They can have talent, style, and a sense of story. But one gets a sense of life and living from the older writer that comes only from experience. Sadly, it is often sad.

Look at Mark Twain or William Shakespeare. As they aged, their works became less and less fun, more and more dark. Masterworks, some of them, but no happy endings.

I'm reading Walter Mosley's THE LONG FALL right now, and there's a passage that describes the "hammer", something waiting in the sky to hit a person when he least expects it, a staggering blow that surprises and stuns. It requires everything a person has just to go on afterward.

Life brings lots of hammer blows. The more I talk to people, the more I realize that we all have things to bear that are unbearable. Is is the piling on of hammer blows, one after another, that makes us old?

I guess the solace in it all is that we become better able to present reality, better able to capture the ups and downs of being human. Better able to write.

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Comment by Jon Loomis on July 16, 2010 at 2:15am
You see this a lot in the poetry world--young poets who are great at wordplay but ultimately have nothing to say. In those cases, the work tends to be lively but ultimately shallow. I think it matters less in genre, that ability to translate individual experience into universal connection, but it can certainly add a welcome second layer when genre authors can pull it off.

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