Sunday nights are double-dose guest blog posts and the first of tonight’s duo (the second will be along in an hour) is on the topic of age, and brought to you by multi-genre novelist and spotlightee J Griffith Mitchell.
Writing is Ageless
As with all the arts, the age at which an author begins to write, whether nine or ninety, is of little consequence.
I had a very satisfying twenty-five year career designing award-winning decorative lighting fixtures and light sculptures and had the honor of having a museum in the San Francisco Bay Area request one of my lamps for display. As is the case with most people, I had a few times written a small piece and fleetingly thought it would be nice to write a book some time, but that was as far as it went. At retirement I had no particular plans for a second career, but retirement is no longer what it was in the past. Once upon a time it was “Sit in your rocker, visit with friends, and watch the world go by.” Nowadays it’s “Be active. Start a new career.” That’s what unexpectedly happened to me. In the course of my education I had had no particular emphasis on English or writing skills, but even as a youth I’ve always had creative ideas and a very active imagination. My training and interests, though, were channeled to art and design, not writing.
At age seventy I began to jot down notes, along the way realizing that writing was what I wanted to do. I began taking a pad and pencil with me when I made my daily visit to the local coffee shop, jotting down ideas and titles and notes, then actually developing story lines. Soon I began to visualize characters and surprisingly found that somehow they often managed to develop themselves. So I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote—long and short novels, novellas, some short stories, articles, and a little non-fiction. And, by the way, “people-watching” at the coffee shop was a great asset.
After two agents and years of trying to interest publishers and production companies, at age eighty-four I published my first e-book. I’ve now published six of the ten books I’ve written, and another is on its way.
There are many other ways to get into a writing career at any age. Communities and colleges offer writing classes geared specifically to seniors, and I understand these can be stimulating and fun. Memoir writing has become a very popular vehicle for writers, particularly older ones with families, who want to leave some kind of family history for future generations. For younger people there’s always an opportunity in journalism, starting with high school courses. And at any age there’s a choice of other writing courses to be had.
No matter how you approach it, what I see as the main ingredients in writing are interest, imagination, creativity—and persistence and patience. I like to think of my imagination as being locked in a magic chest, and when it’s opened I can reach in and pull out my next inspiration, my next journey. If you have a consuming interest or an innovative idea, write about it. If you’ve visualized something or imagined it, write about it. With the advent of the Internet there’s now unlimited opportunity in blogs. It’s generally agreed that every adult has enough life experience to produce at least one book. Judging from the number of blogs out in the ether, there’s plenty of potential for that!
My advice to a potential writer of any age is, sit down and do it. Accumulate your ideas, make notes of interesting events, jot down what intrigues you, and be prepared to revise again and again. Even what seems like a far-fetched idea can be the seed that launches a career. For myself, although it can sometimes be a painful process, I’ve found that writing is the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done.
Hear, hear! Thank you very much.
After retiring from a twenty-five year career in designing award-winning custom lighting fixtures and light sculptures J. Griffith Mitchell moved to the Sonoma County wine country in Northern California, and turned to writing. His first novel, a sci-fi endeavor titled The Genes Conspiracy, will never be published, since in the intervening years most of what he had proposed in the book has become reality.
He is not a “genre” writer, but instead follows his feelings as to what needs to be said. He formulates the beginning, middle, and end of a general theme and then lets his strong characters take over from there.
His currently published e-books are:
- The House Of Indiscretions (a woman determined to keep her home, whatever the cost, through blackmail, prostitution, and converting it to a Prohibition-era speakeasy);
- The Royle Blue Bloods (a four-generation dysfunctional family empire which eventually destroys itself through greed, blackmail, and murder);
- Jeremiah Bascomb – A Heart Divided (runaway orphan at fifteen, business mogul by forty, and a secret kept);
- Death In Edenville (a heinous crime, its unforeseen ripple effect, and retribution through another unspeakable crime);
- How Well Did You Know Stanley? (a zany romp through the adventures of an astute but introverted businessman seeking romance in strange places);
- and Pola—A Biographical Novel. (based on the life of Pola Negri—from poverty to ballerina to stage actress to movie superstar and princess, with a backdrop of two world wars).
You can find out more about Mr Griffith Mitchell via:
His e-books are available at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.kobobooks.com, Google editions and iBooks.
And a little more about his book ‘Pola’…
Though raised in poverty, POLA NEGRI became the first European star of silent films, later conquering Hollywood, where she had affairs with Chaplin and Valentino. In the 1930s she returned to Europe, where she was Adolph Hitler’s favorite movie star and reputed to be his mistress.
Her many friends and associates included Sara Bernhardt, George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein, the aristocracy of Europe, and such film luminaries as Ernst Lubitsch, Emil Jannings, Marion Davies, Norma and Constance Talmadge… and her not-so-good-friend, Gloria Swanson.
Her career began at eight as a ballerina, sponsored by the Russian tsarist regime. A serious illness prevented her from dancing, so she turned to acting and became a stage star at fourteen. She continued to be a star in the new medium of film, progressing from the silent era, through early talkies, into modern-day films until 1964.
The backdrop to her fabulous life was the Russian Revolution, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, escape from Europe during the dark times of the Third Reich, and rebuilding her life and career in America. Through several marriages the only constant thing in her life was the lasting, loving, loyal relationship with her mother.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
Next up is the second of tonight’s guest blogs, book talks by Terri Morgan, then the blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with mystery author Linda Mickey – the five hundred and fifty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.