We’re the young generation,
And we’ve got something to say.
Almost five decades have passed since I first heard those catchy lyrics from The Monkees. At age fifty-eight, the song continues to resonate with me.
I’ve still got something to say.
And so do seventy-eight million other baby boomers around the world.
We are fueling a growing demand for a different kind of literature, aptly called boomer lit. While it is entertaining to read about young vampires and twenty-something women wrestling with relationship and workplace issues, we want our own heroes who are not afraid to change the standard romantic and literary formulas.
Age-appropriate. Nostalgic. Finding meaning in the golden years. Or to quote LuAnn Schindler…
Move over, chick. It’s time for the hen to strut her stuff.
I started to seriously “strut” my literary stuff five years ago. After retiring from a thirty-one-year teaching career, I decided to devote my second act to writing. Excited about my first novel, I anxiously awaited input from a visiting screenwriter. That conversation is still etched in memory:
Writer: “You’ve got an interesting storyline here. And I like how you’ve developed the main female characters. But…
Me: Spill it. I can take it.
Writer: Most of the characters are over fifty. You need to bring in a couple of young’uns. Create a sub-plot with the protagonist’s niece and introduce a love interest for her.
Me: What do you mean by young’uns?
Writer: Characters in their twenties and early thirties. That’s what selling now.
Since then, I have encountered different versions of this conversation whenever I participate in writing workshops and seminars. Several instructors urged me to downplay the “boomer” elements in my books.
“Don’t mention anything about age in your query letter.”
“It’s okay to have an older woman as a sleuth. She’ll be invisible and that works well for sleuths. But make sure you surround her with younger characters.”
“Stay away from retirement homes, senior homes, and nursing homes. Don’t dwell on all that negative stuff. Too depressing.”
Thankfully, the writers and producers of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Quartet, The Intouchables and Downtown Abbey did not consider such misguided advice. I can’t even imagine creating younger characters to replace Maggie Smith, Dame Judy Dench, Bill Nighy or Francois Cluzet in any of their outstanding roles.
I am equally impressed by Jeanne Ray, Lynda Rutledge, Debra Goldstein and other writers who have launched spectacular second acts. Inspired by their stories, I have continued to use boomers and their older siblings as protagonists in my novels and short stories. My determination and efforts are finally paying off. In the fall of 2013, Soul Mate Publishing will release my debut novel, Between Land and Sea.
Any other boomer lit success stories out there? I would love to feature you on this blog.
Are You Ready For Boomer Lit? Laurie Boris
Boomer Lit: Romancing the Middle-Aged Reader by LuAnn Schindler
How I Reinvented Myself at 60 by Jeanne Ray