Back in March I enjoyed presenting a talk about older women in fiction, or rather the lack of them, to a small group who tuned in on Zoom for my IWWGs Women's History Month event. I read one of my stories about Lorna aged 64 (which also features the pier in the picture) which went down well. I also raised the issue of how women of all ages have typically been missing from history books.
Older women are in novels, although they are massively under-represented - but it's how they're portrayed that interests me and often bothers me. Do we lump all 'older' women in one group like so many tick boxes on forms where there's one last box: 60+ - as if a 60 year old is the same as a 99 year old or a 109 year old. Many portrayals are somewhat negative. The film industry seems to have taken to older women, providing of course they are Botoxed, glamorous and extremely wealthy. They don't seem to have have aching joints like many real older women do, but tear around like teenagers which I find equally irritating.
If you're interested in older women in fiction do check out BookWord that shows a variety of books with older women in them, although not all are positive portrayals.
Then there is the matter of older writers and especially older women getting published. Again, there has been some improvement lately and I welcomed the article published by The Guardian not long ago which you can read here. More recently of course is the good news of the competition from Jenny Brown Associates Literary agents for novelists over 50 here. It's open only to UK residents so I am not eligible but I'd have definitely submitted otherwise. I look forward to hearing the results.
What of my own writing this year? Not much, I'm afraid. I pitched my novel and did get a call for the first three chapters, synopsis etc but alas it got no further.
There have been plenty of rejections as always. Some disappoint but most roll off the proverbial duck's back. They should as I've had enough since my first rejection in 2005.
To date I've made 367 submissions to competitions, journals and magazines. 74 were accepted and published online or on paper plus 20 competition long-listings or short-listings. If I add those in to the success mix, my very poor mathematical skills make that around a 25% success rate or a 75% not success rate.
I'll keep going though.