you’re so young you’re so goddamned young

(Optional soundtrack for this post may be found here or here).

I’ve been 23 years old for almost half a year now, and I think Blink-182 was on to something.

On one side of it, 23 is a lot of years: I have a college degree, a job with a paycheck, and more than one nice pair of pants. I pay taxes*, I make budgets, and I can drive three and a half hours to a writers’ retreat all by my lonesome. I have come far enough in life that there exists a place where I used to be, and find myself giving advice to people (plural!) whose present situation is my past.

Most critically, though, I write books. Have written, am writing, whatever—I have picked a career and God-damned if I’m not in it for the long haul.

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But on the other side, 23 is so little. I sleep in my childhood bedroom. I don’t pay the heating bill. I can’t rent a car. I get called “young lady” by my so-called peers in the business of book-writing as they dispense advice in a patronizingly royal we: “We can’t give up! We all have to keep writing!”

Lady, I know. I’ve kept writing since I was 16. You want trunked manuscripts? I’ve got six. I might have been born yesterday but that doesn’t make me stupid. It doesn’t make me some kind of wunderkind, either; I’m not trying to posit myself as an under-appreciated prodigy here. I don’t want to whine. I just want to work.

Back in the days (daze?) of employment-hunting, my mantra was this: if the worst thing they can say about you is that you’re too young for the job, then the best is yet to come. Time heals all ills, and no more so than when you’re afflicted with youth.

My point (or my hope, or my belief) is this: age should be neutral. Your work and the quality thereof is the only thing that counts and the only thing you should count on.

Last night, my mother and I were commiserating over our respective places in time. “You’re closer to the beginning of your life, and I’m closer to the end,” she said, one of those double-edged statement that cut at each of us in opposite ways. I said what I thought without thinking about it and spit out one of those dumb-but-true truths:

“We’ve both got tomorrow. That’s all you need.”

*or, okay, I will have paid taxes as of tonight. This is why god invented e-filing.

4 thoughts on “you’re so young you’re so goddamned young

  1. Carli

    You’re over 10 years younger than me and I’d never think of you as “young lady”– In writing, especially, experience trumps age. I’ve seen 50 year olds finishing their first manuscripts and 16 year olds getting book deals on be-u-ti-ful manuscripts. Honestly, 3 years ago I cried over the things I wrote in high school because I was a more accomplished writer back -then- than I was at 30+ (thanks, engineering school.)

    We’re all on a journey to grow and improve. The people who use age as a gauge of skill and experience are missing out on an entire population from whom they can learn.

    (Plus, like I told Deena later, you kind-of remind me a little bit of Veronica Roth, another “young” writer!)

    Reply
    1. blair Post author

      You are so sweet! I’m totally with you. BUT I will say that lucky people like you have the benefit of really cool life experiences (be they engineering school or skating the Rideau canal) which I think ultimately informs writing more than anything else. So in some ways, no matter your path, it’s win-win!

      Reply
  2. jizm

    A half hour later, I came back and he sends me a message saying, “It took you a long time to finish your shower. The free Greek dating sites provide the members dating services devoid of any monthly membership. Multiply that price with the letters he’s already sent and you’ll see how many millions Reese has made.

    Reply

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