A few days ago, on the first of August, Writers in the Attic turned one year old!
Just over a year ago I tentatively approached a couple of writers and asked them to pen an essay about what being a writer meant to them. I certainly didn’t expect it would still be going a year later, with no signs of slowing down!
When I started the series, I had no idea how much interest there would be nor how long it might last. I hoped for half-a-dozen or so posts, and then I thought readers and writers might get bored and the enthusiasm would wane. But I underestimated the generosity of writers and how giving of their writing time they would be.
The thought for the series came one day when I was walking the dogs and listening to a podcast about writing. I wish I could remember the name of the author or even the podcast I was listening to, but all I remember is that it was a middle-aged, female author talking about how hard it is to come to writing later in life, and how emerging writers’ festivals, residencies and awards are often aimed at the under-35s, yet there are many emerging writers who are older.
As someone who started to write only seven years ago, at the mature age of 43, the author’s words resonated with me. It’s a completely different experience coming to writing when you’re older. I’d been established in another career, in which I had a degree and a level of expertise, and it was hard to go back to the beginning in a new career and start all over again. Most of the time I try to ignore my age, but sometimes when I look at the unlined faces of other emerging writers who, I might add, aren’t much older than my children, I feel matronly and old, and somewhat discouraged to be this age and wearing ‘L’ plates.
So as I listened to the author on the podcast, the idea came to ask writers of varying ages what it felt like to be writing at that age. My first guest was Marlish Glorie, who wrote about being a writer at 60. I also asked Maureen Helen about being a writer when approaching 80 and Emily Paull about writing in your twenties.
I didn’t limit writers to the topic of age, but let them choose their own subjects. Some wrote about fitting writing in and around other careers: Michelle Johnston wrote about being a doctor and a writer, Elisabeth Hanscombe on being a psychologist and a writer, and Joyce Mathers spoke of the importance of writing in her job as a celebrant.
Some writers wrote about the difficulty they had calling themselves writers: Shannon Meyerkort confessed to not feeling like a ‘real’ writer because of the piecemeal nature of her writing, Tabetha Rogers-Beggs wrote about squeezing writing into a busy life of work and mothering, and Teena Raffa-Mulligan talked about accepting a life of writing in fragments. Monique Mulligan wrote about feelings of vulnerability when exposing herself through her writing,
Many writers talked about writing as way of processing traumatic events. Glenda Janes called writing her saving grace, Camilla Hullick wrote about how it helped ease loneliness, and Nicole McAlinden wrote of how writing helped her cope with the illness of a family member.
Many have written very personally: Jessica Gately wrote about how much her fictional character is part of herself, and Lauren Keegan showed us her resilience in the face of repeated rejection. Rachel Nightingale and Anthea Hodgson wrote poignantly about the influence their fathers’ deaths have had on their writing.
There are essays on writing historical fiction (Deb Burrows) and romance (Vikki Holstein and Lily Malone), on being dyslexic and writing (Robin Riedstra), writing tips (Eliza Henry-Jones and Cait Gordon), on writing with babies and children (Natasha Lester and Rebecca Freeman), on being a self-published author (Helen Jones), on taking a circuitous pathway to creative writing (Deb Wain, Maureen Eppen and Denise Mills), and on coming to writing later in life (Jean J McLeod and Marie McLean).
There are many more beautiful essays and I can’t name them all here, nor can I do their authors justice with my summaries. Some have made me laugh out loud; some have made me weep. Most have been deeply personal and often after I’ve read a post, I’ve been rendered speechless.
To all who have contributed, thank you so much for stepping into the attic and writing about yourself and your life. Writers are the best people—I’m yet to find another group of professionals so generous and willing to share their experiences and help each other.
Thank you, too, to everyone who’s read these pieces. Continue to watch this space because there’s plenty more to come!
I hope this has inspired you to write for Writers in the Attic. The topic is anything to do with writing—your writing life, what writing means to you, or what has influenced your writing. 600-1000 words is a good length, and I acknowledge the time and effort involved in writing these pieces by sending a small gift as a thank you.
Please keep the essays coming!
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me here.
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Happy Birthday dear Louise, it was a great honour to be your first writer in the attic!
It’s a fabulous essay, Marlish—a great way to start the series! 🙂
Happy WITA birthday, Louise! It’s such a wonderful series – I’ve loved reading about fellow writers, and was honoured to be part of it, too 😊 xx
Thank you so much for being part of the series! It was an honour to post your essay. 🙂
Thanks, Louise – it’s lovely to be part of such a great writing community 😊 xx
The writing community is incredibly supportive here in Oz. Is it that way in the UK, too?
Yes – at least, I’ve met some wonderful people here. I think we all know how tough this game is, so stand together 😊 Encouragement and support seem to be the norm, which is great x
I’ve never found another community as supportive as fellow writers! Perhaps because we do know how tough this game is. 🙂
Happy birthday Writers in the Attic! I love this series Louise, thank you for bringing it to life.
Thanks for being part of the series, too, Jodi! I’m so glad I started it! 🙂
Hard to believe it’s been a year, Louise. Great series. Looking forward to reading stories from many more WITA in the future.
Thanks for sharing your experience as part of the series, too, Maureen! I’m looking forward to continuing the series as long as I can, too! 🙂
I love this series so much, and look forward to a new post arriving in my inbox each week. Keep them coming, Louise — and congratulations again on creating such an inspirational forum for writers to share their personal stories. xxx
The stories inspire me, too, Maureen, and I’m hooked also! I’m glad you’re still enjoying the series, and I’ll keep it going as long as I can. 🙂
Happy Birthday to WITA. 🎉
A wonderful series I’ve enjoyed reading (and hope to be part of someday).
Thank you for the birthday wishes, and I can’t wait to read your essay, Sarah! 🙂
Stumbling across this wonderful series has been a turning point and major piece of luck for me! Not only have I found a kindred spirit, I have gained inspiration, affirmation and encouragement from writers at every stage of the writing journey.
I truly enjoy every post. Thank you so much for curating such an amazing array of writing talent!
Thanks, Marie! I’m so glad you stumbled across it and then contributed to it with a such a beautiful essay. You’re right about the inspiration, affirmation and encouragement the essays give—I enjoy every post, too! Believe me, I have a easy job of curating the pieces! 🙂
Happy birthday WITA! And what a great series is it. I wish I’d come across it sooner, but I’m happy to have an archive of wonderful essays to read. Thank you, Louise, for bringing so many wonderful writers into you attic and letting them share their stories. X
Thanks, Kirsty! I can’t wait to bring next week’s post … 😉
What an amazing real-life party this would be with all of these writers in the same room!
We’ll have to organise a gathering, except we wouldn’t all fit in the attic! 🙂
It’s a fabulous series offering much insight. Maureen was one of my favourites. What a life she has led.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series, Pinky! I have a soft spot for a few of the essays, too. It’s nice when one particularly speaks to you. x
PS. Would you consider writing a piece? I’d love to post an essay of yours! 🙂