Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Over Forty

Have you noticed that the majority of romance authors are over forty? In fact, lots of us are in our fifties or beyond. I know a few authors who buck this trend, but I'd be willing to bet that at least three quarters of your favorite romance writers were born in the seventies or earlier.

One might be tempted to attribute this phenomenon to the "empty nest syndrome". Younger women are too busy taking care of their growing children to spend time concocting stories. Not until their children reach the teen or adult years do they have the necessary leisure to pursue a career as an author.

I'm sure that this is one factor, but I think there are other things going on as well. For one thing, I know some prolific forty-plus authors who are still the primary caretakers for children, grandchildren or parents. Then there are authors like me. I never had children (by choice) but nevertheless, I didn't begin writing and publishing until I was in my mid-forties.

My theory is that when you're younger, you don't have enough experience or perspective to write convincingly about love and desire. It's only when you reach the point where your hormones have calmed down a bit, when you've experienced the ups and downs of real world relationships, that you can begin to share some of those insights with readers.

I know that there will be twenty-something authors out there screaming that this isn't true. Yes, I'm generalizing - of course there are exceptions. I still think that women in their twenties are more focused on pursuing love and romance than on writing about it.

There's another factor that may be responsible for the mature demographics of romance authors. For lack of a better word, I'll call it nostalgia. We write about intense love and heart-stopping desire in order to remember and re-experience those emotions.

Certainly this is true for me. I've been married almost thirty years. I love my husband dearly, but not in the same ferocious way I did when we first got together. There's a lot more comfort but somewhat less excitement. So I'll admit that I concoct my erotic tales at least partially for vicarious satisfaction. I had some amazing adventures in my search for Mr. Right. The spirit of those loves, if not the details, come to life in my stories.

I hope that I'll be able to continue writing as I grow older. I want to be able to lose myself in the breathless, world-shaking experience of falling in love even when I'm eighty. Our bodies may age - but love is timeless.

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