Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction

But That’s Okay. We’re Boomers. We’ll Figure Something Out

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Welcome My Guest Blogger Kathleen D. Bailey!

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Kathleen is a freelance and staff writer with a lifetime devotion to the printed, and now the digital page. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s and 70s and a young mom in the 80s. Kathleen says, “It was a turbulent, colorful time to come of age. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, and written about most of it. I share some of that on my website Kathleen D. Bailey, along with book reviews and snippets from my fiction writing. Join me in the wonderful world of words!”

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. ~ Pr 16:31 (NIV)

I’m so happy to be asked to blog with Clarice! I’ve enjoyed getting to know her this past year. We have a lot in common, from Catholic childhoods, don’t get me started, to home decorating, to, of course, writing.

I’ve been able to cheer her on in the process of getting Double Header between covers and on to bookstore shelves. But I was dismayed to learn recently that an editor rejected her first book, Party of One, because stories about older women don’t sell. I’m not blaming them, they don’t control the market, but sheesh. As an older woman, I didn’t like hearing that I’m not all that interesting.

But wait, it’s about to get worse.

Intrigued by the promos for TV Land’s new series Younger, I decided to give it a try. I lasted about 20 minutes. I’m from the three-dot school and I thought Fifty Shades of Grey was about hair coloring. I left these 20-somethings to their courting of Chlamydia and escaped. But like Lot’s wife I looked back, not at the sexual content but at the premise.

Younger tells the story of Liza, a suburban divorcee of 40 who can’t get a job in New York Publishing because of her age. This is the same New York Publishing (capital letters intentional) where Anne Hathaway has trouble being true to herself in The Devil Wears Prada, and the stakes are higher for Liza. She’s in pretty good shape for 40 and her best friend urges her to “pass” for 26, whereupon– bingo–she lands the job.

7--year-old Dame Helen Lydia Mirren in the movie RED.

70-year-old Dame Helen Mirren in the movie RED. “But that’s okay. We’ll figure something out. We’re Boomers.”

There is so much wrong here I don’t know where to begin and I guess I’ll start with the perception of 40 as “old.” Forty was supposed to be the new 30 and if it isn’t, what is 30 not the “new” of?

I’d love to have my 40-year-old body back. The mind, not so much. I’d like to have my 40-year-old memory and sharpness, but not the judgmental spirit and bad decisions. I wouldn’t want to give up what I’ve learned, sometimes through dark places, in order to be “young” again. But I don’t need to worry. According to the TV show, 40 isn’t young.

I cringed to see “Liza” adopting her co-workers’ slang and hanging out with them. I watched long enough to see her acquire a 26-year-old boyfriend. Whatever did they talk about? Oh, right, these people don’t talk.

What were the first 40 years of her life worth? Apparently not enough when placed against the grander scheme of New York Publishing.

It’s also significant to me that the producers didn’t go for a 50-or 60-something pretending to be 40 or 30. Was it simply too impossible to make a 50-or 60-year-old hot enough? Or was it too impossible to imagine them in New York Publishing? Or was it too impossible to imagine a REALLY OLD PERSON doing something that dumb?

This isn’t resume tweaking, people. It’s a denial of who “Liza” is, who she’s spent 40 years becoming. No job is worth that.

And it’s a denial of what older people, seniors, elders, whatever, have been working toward since the Boomers began to age. The right to age with dignity, to be respected for what we’ve done and who we are. To love and learn and take risks, to keep our minds and bodies as sharp as we can for the next adventure. To matter.

Except for Betty White, who’s not typical, we’re not going to see a lot of women on the small screen who look like us. And unless some people publish independently, we’re not going to read about them. Nobody’s going to validate us unless we do it ourselves. But that’s okay. We’re Boomers. We’ll figure something out.

And Clarice will get her book between covers somehow, some time.

Because our stories need to be told.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~ Isa 46:4 (NIV)

More About Kathleen:  This year, Kathleen semi-finaled in American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis, finaled in Lone Star, and won in her category in TARA. She’s an active member of Journey Church, teaching the children’s mission program and working in its homeless ministry. She also enjoys baking for college students, service people, and community events. She and her husband David live in Derry, NH. Find Kathleen on Facebook and LinkedIn. [She does kind of a lot for an “old” Baby Boomer, don’t you think? – CJ]

image001Readers (and Publishers?): Please check out these novels which feature older protagonists.

STAND-ALONE BOOKS:

SERIES:

 

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10 thoughts on “But That’s Okay. We’re Boomers. We’ll Figure Something Out

  1. I am happy to be here. Nice job, Clarice. Will check in later.

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  2. I want to live in Europe. Actually I don’t, I don’t want to go anywhere they hate Americans and don’t have toilet paper, but it is true that they have a greater respect for older people.

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  3. Jessica Alba is on the cover of “More” magazine. That should make me feel better but it doesn’t.

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  4. Great article, Kathy! And, Clarice, thanks for including me!

    I feel the pain—I AM the pain, the pig in the python—whatever you want to call me—a Boomer woman. And, like you, I just HAVE to write about us. To let other women “of a certain age” know that their lives matter, their feelings matter, their aging matters, their beauty matters, their friendships matter! Menopause matters, for heaven’s sake! Okay, I’ll stop now.

    Currently I’m reading “Annapurna: A Woman’s Place”, and I’m remembering all over again, the frustration of being a younger woman in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not all been frustrating. And I certainly don’t rue being a woman.

    I remembered when I read “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake” by Anna Quindlen, an articulate spokeswoman for our generation.

    And I remembered when I recently talked with a urology resident about the discrimination she’s encountering in her field. I apologized to her saying, “We tried to make it better for you, but it’s taken a long, long time.”

    “They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,” Psalm 92:14

    Yes!

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    • Thank you, Cristine, for your thoughtful comments. Kathy and I both feel the same pain. It’s funny, though, when we go to writers’ conferences, the Baby Boomers generation is the one most represented by the writers in attendance. We’re the ones who finally have the time to write!

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  5. Completely awesome post. Notice I didn’t say “totally” – not trendy anymore. And so what if they air brushed Helen’s photo? She’s a dame after all and one of us. Thank you for your insightful thoughts, Kathleen. I agree, I agree! And thank you, Clarice, for including The Red Shoelace Killer in the covers. My Minnie Markwood is pushing 60 and out there solving crimes. Her young assistants are learning sooo much from her. Heh, heh.

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  6. I remember trying to write an autobiography – when I as 10! Now that I’m – ahem – over 50, maybe it’s time to put all that life onto the page. If not, I’ll sprinkle it around and create some interesting characters. Thanks for putting my book cover up, Clarice.

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  7. That was also the first thing I thought: 40 is OLD? and I loved this:

    “I’d love to have my 40-year-old body back. The mind, not so much. I’d like to have my 40-year-old memory and sharpness, but not the judgmental spirit and bad decisions. I wouldn’t want to give up what I’ve learned, sometimes through dark places, in order to be “young” again

    I’m barely scraping into the Boomers age, at at 52, but that’s old according to Hollywood and most of today’s population.

    The books I write feature eccentric, interesting old people – really old, like over 80 – and I just realized that most of the main characters are 35 or older. Maybe I’d better give up on traditional publishing. I can self-publish and market to Baby Boomers. 😉

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    • Loved your comment, Cathe: “Maybe I’d better give up on traditional publishing. I can self-publish and market to Baby Boomers.” I just said this to my husband this morning! Even before this blog post by my guest Kathleen Bailey, I was collecting titles of published books with older protagonists with the idea of marketing them to Baby Boomers. Once I get a good, long list, maybe we can promote them together in a Baby Boomer Library of some sort. Send me your titles, and I’ll add them to my list! Thanks.

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