24 April 2023

Things writers can do when they discover they’re old.

Stay up all night.  Not because you’re dancing in the moonlight or pounding tequila, but because you’ve forgotten to go to bed.  You get engrossed in something, like binge watching David Attenborough, and suddenly dawn is breaking and the birds are singing. 

Objectively determine that falling off a roof is a bad idea.  Experience shows that a roof’s greatest utility is keeping rain out of the house and slowing down broken tree limbs.  There’s absolutely no need to crawl out there to look at the stars or contemplate ending it all just because your first short story was rejected by The New Yorker.

Be done with expectations.  What’s done is done and anything good that happens next is a happy surprise. 

Finally understanding your pets.  Sleeping most of the day now makes perfect sense.  The dog also teaches that snap judgements about people have merit (wag your tail or bite an ankle?),

while cats demonstrate that a sense of superiority need not have any basis in prior accomplishments or public recognition.

Admire physical beauty as something more than an incentive to propagate.  That he or she has a well-turned ankle, or nice blue eyes, can be observed more as an art historian than a randy fool.  And written accordingly.  

Forgetting.  Though there’s inconvenience in constantly searching for your wallet, iPhone and favorite pen, this comes in handy when avoiding regret and recrimination.  It also nurtures false optimism, which allows you to produce day-after-day with little chance of reward. 

Smelling the roses.  It’s amazing how much detail is apparent when arthritis sets the pace of movement through the world.  Recordable in various obsessive writings, fact and fiction.   

Harboring grudges.  Most fade over time, but a few have a lasting quality, best savored when you realize those feelings were entirely justified.  Useful in passages focusing on revenge. 

Assembling sentences with confidence.  At this point, good writers, or not so good, know their voice, and accept the product as their own.  As to good, or not so good, the relief is in not caring very much what other people think.   

Embracing the routine.  When life is no longer driven by external forces, daily rhythms are naturally re-occurring.  Not so much planned or plotted out, simply arising from celestial habits, like the tides and phases of the moon.

Knowing what books you like, and not like.  The days of forcing yourself to read a book you don’t like to the end are long gone.  Peer pressure has vanished, as have many of your peers, so there’s no incentive to prove you’re part of the cognoscenti.  Time is running out, so no need to waste it with unhappy consumption.  The same goes for movies, TV shows, kale and popular vacation destinations.

Sleeping in.  Since sleeping itself is not always achievable, this is a blessed event.  As a side benefit, writing time becomes whenever you’re awake, which could be any time day or night. 

Honesty.  Younger people feel compelled to present themselves as appropriate to their cultural and social cohort.  Ignoring all that baloney is the ultimate liberation. 

Experience unconditional love.  After a certain amount of time sets in, you tend to accept that you love those you love, no matter what.  Regardless of imperfections in the beloved, it’s something integral, indivisible, abiding and everlasting.   One compelling reason to keep tapping on the keyboard.



  1. You’ve covered most of it, Chris. I would add, use your time in doctors’ offices and clinic waiting rooms wisely, and avoid having too many of your characters portrayed as doddering old fools.
    Edward Lodi

  2. Chris, I smiled, I laughed, I nodded my head while reading this! And - as I'm just reaching 'young senior' age - understood more about myself. Definitely bookmarking this one. Oh, and before we went to bed last night, we happened to be watching Wild Isles - David Attenborough! Talk about prophetic...Melodie

  3. I used to have zero patience with bad books and bad television, but I've discovered mediocre is even worse. Until you recognize it, it sucks you in for a major waste of time.

  4. We can choose to wear what we damn well please, even white after labor day with green polka dots and purple stripes. Pants, no pants?


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