When I’m old, and very very rich, I shall found a writing competition to support writers. It won’t be for young writers though. My competition will be for writers over 30.
There are plenty of writing competitions and scholarships and awards out there – but most of them are for young writers. Write a play – for the under 25s. Write a sci-fi story – for the under 18s. Write a novel – 15 to 20 year olds. These are all good opportunities – but where are the opportunities for the older writers?
How many of us knew we wanted to be writers when we were teenagers? Quite often it’s a case of getting to 35, and suddenly realising ‘Hang on a minute – writing! That’s what I’m supposed to be doing!’
Plenty of us were writing when we were young, but were we ready to be published? When I was young, I was still copying the ideas and styles of my favourite writers, and not copying them very well. It’s taken me years and years to find my own voice.
It takes time for a writer to mature. They need life experience, they need reading experience, they need to have learnt to use language. Quite a few of my favourite writers didn’t publish until they were in their mid-thirties.
There are some very skilled young writers out there, who’s books I very much enjoy. But there are also a lot of writers past youth, who are just as worthy of being published, who just don’t have the opportunity.
As I’m not rich yet, I have to make a plea. Please, people who run writing competitions – please run one for the us older writers. Give us a choice. We have a lot to offer too.