Wednesday, 21 January 2009


'Old people, in general, don't have literary careers.' So said Robert McCrum in last Sunday's Observer piece.

He goes on to talk about the longevity or not of most writer's careers and how it's hard to follow early success with even more success:

"For this process [the process of writing lots of books], "career" is really the wrong word. There is no useful correlation between the conduct of law or medicine, on the one hand, and literature on the other. You can have a career as a lawyer or a doctor. As a writer, you are always starting out afresh. Age and experience may teach you some tricks, but it will not touch your work with magic."

He's so right. Sometimes I think the more I learn about the mechanics of writing (which I love learning about) the less I write, and the less of worth I write. It's all a bit depressing though, isn't it? All we can look forward to. as writers, is worse books, less publication and continued poverty. Sigh.

Read the rest of what he had to say here.


Liz said...

Hi Nuala,
That is an interesting article. I like the line which says that as a writer one is always starting out that idea of no past baggage, in a way...: )

P.S. word verification is 'no back' : )


Rob said...

Maybe it's partly that the more you learn, the more you know, and the more you know, the better you need your work to be.

In other words, it's not necessarily that your work is getting worse or not of the same worth as before. More likely it's that you're unsatisfied with the kind of stuff you would have been pleased with a few years ago. That's no doubt a good thing.

This is what I tell myself anyway!

Women Rule Writer said...

Hi Liz - I like that starting out afresh thing too. That's how I feel everytime I start something new - that it's all new again and all to play for . I guess that's why we keep going! :)
(It's mad when the word ver matches the posts, isn't it? It happens on Bab's Bleeuggh all the time.)

Rob - hi there and thanks for dropping by. Yes, I have defo become more exacting and critical about my work over the years. A good thing, no doubt. I guess because I write less there's less to be satisfied with, if you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

christ that's a terrifying piece

thought we were just getting started

in fact we're past sell-by


Women Rule Writer said...

Hiya Duke and welcome,
Yes, I think if we dwell on it too much it might be scary. But I still feel like I'm only getting started, so sod Mr McCrum!