Thursday, September 29, 2016

Being Young, Being Old

I stumbled across a YouTube book review vlog today written and recorded by Emily CaitShe reviewed a collection of short stories and essays, The Opposite of Loneliness, by the late Marina Keegan. The theme was one of youth, and Emily found that refreshing as many young writers attempt to write “old.” Beyond their years. I thought about that for a few minutes, comparing memories from my youth to those of my age now, and odd as it may sound, I decided that I prefer being old, and relish the fact that I managed to survive my youth.

Marina Keegan wrote about being young, but experiencing old things like her old car, handed down by her grandmother. She wrote about finding it full of memories as she cleaned it out to pass it on, according to Emily. My youth was full of old cars as well, but not hand-me-downs like hers. Mine were clunkers that had seen better days. They were full of memories too, none of them good. Leaking tires, worn-out hoses, over-heating engines, I found no fond memories there. I could write about that aspect of my life now—now that I am old. I suppose that young writers, should they endeavor to write “old,” need to take a bit of creative license as they expound on things they had not learned or experienced. I imagine they have to if they are to write about years they have not lived. They have yet to fully experience life and have little to draw on. To write, one need experience stuff.

Someone asked me in an interview why I waited so long to write my first novel. I replied that I wouldn’t have been able to write it any sooner. I wasn’t smart enough. George Bernard Shaw once said, “Youth is wasted on the young.”  I didn’t quite get that when I was young. How could I? I was never old. But I am now, and to be honest, I like it better. I’d love to have the younger body for sure, but I would find the lack of experience that comes with youth, off-putting.  

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