Mature Females, Wise Women, and Little Old Ladies

I'm scheduled to be profiled this week in Sylvia Dickey Smith's column in the EXAMINER. She's invited women of a certain age to comment on how maturity makes them better writers. Of course I jumped in on that one, but I have to admit that simply aging doesn't make anyone better at anything. I know people who, as they age, hang on harder and harder to things that interfere with improvement.

First is youth. The more a person tries to hold onto it, the harder he or she has to work at it. This wastes valuable time that could have been spent getting better at something, like descriptive prose. For example: plucking my eyebrows these days takes way longer than it used to, first because my brows have decided to expand for some reason and second because the frown-lines up there are so deep that it's more excavation than plucking. I may just quit worrying about it. They're lighter now that they're gray anyway.

Another thing that stands in the way of being a wise old person is the how-it-used-to-be syndrome. Many of us can't get over the fact that not only are things NOT the way they used to be, but also that those who follow DON'T EVEN CARE! You can tell your kids (and grandkids) all day long how great it used to be, or you can get off your rear and do something.

Last is, for lack of a better term, fear. Despite evidence that our brains need new stimuli to keep operating, we often fall into habits somewhere around forty and stick with them forever after. When I retired at 52 from a job where I made good money, knew exactly what I was doing and was very good at it, and had all kinds of perks that my friends envied, many people (including my investments counselor) thought I was crazy. What-ifs popped up everywhere, but my yen to do something different overcame my fears. I have never once been sorry.

So does maturity make a better writer? Experience is certainly a wonderful well to draw from, if a person isn't trying to look thirty, clinging to the good old days, or cringing at the thought of something completely different from her first fifty years.

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Comment by Peg Herring on September 2, 2009 at 12:49pm
And you can call them words they don't get, like "whippersnappers" and "harlots"!
Comment by Dana King on September 2, 2009 at 2:17am
I like being older. I had many interests of older folks when I was young, so now some of the things I do seem more age appropriate. Plus, younger people tend to think people get crabby as they get older, so now I get excused more often. (Forget about it. He's old and crabby.)

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