Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It’s Just a Number, Right?

by Seleste deLaney

Guess what? I’m old.

No. Seriously, I’ve recently been informed of this and it shocked the hell out of me. Sure, I was born on this very day…a while ago, but I really don’t see myself as old. Every once in a while when some random body part starts protesting life, I joke about it, but hello…those were jokes.

The thing is I’m a firm believer in the old saying “You’re only as old as you feel.” And most of the time? Yeah, I just don’t feel all that old.

I think that’s one reason most of my heroines are younger than my (LOL you thought I was going to tell you?) years. I remember high school and college and those first years on my own not only well, but fondly. And it isn’t because I look at the past with rose-colored glasses; I remember all the crap too. It was just a time of discovery, a time before settling into jobs and marriage and kids and routine.

For me, that’s a much easier time to write exciting things happening. You see, if I were to write a heroine like me now, she’d be a stay-at-home-mom and wife working some sort of job from home. She’d have a wonderful husband who loved her, maybe a couple pets, a mortgage, big extended family, in-laws she may or may not get along with. All in all, it’d be a full, solid life. Good stuff.

But that’s the problem. When the bad shit happens in the book—as it usually does in mine—those very things would become targets. The family, the husband, the kids…

Yeah. That wouldn’t be nearly as fun to write. I know this first hand because one of my works-in-progress deals with a lot of that. It’s painful to write. I cry a lot. And it’s a freaking romance novel. Not like it’s this huge tragedy in and of itself, but so much tragedy happened to the heroine to get her to the place she is in the beginning of the book that has to be revisited over and over…

I’m honestly not sure I’ll be able to finish it for the simple reason it hurts too much. So yeah, I embrace writing about younger characters, because while in some ways they have more to lose, in other ways, they have a lot less. Judge me if you want for clinging to my youth like that, but you know what? It’s my birthday, and I’ll cling if I want to ;-)

So what about you, dear readers? Do you prefer to read stories about heroines your own age? Younger? Older?


Maureen said...

Well...I write older couples who rock with growing old and instead of having so much to lose or find in danger they are at the stage of feeling worthless and being alone. Not all older folks have the kids, dogs, mortgages, spouses, etc.

I think that is the key to my writing them and not dealing with the angst. Though when I do write younger in their 40s or 30s... ;-) I tend to have them as loners. Though friends in danger add to the conflict!

And happy b-day!

Maureen said...

BTW, Yup! Celeste, it's just a number! Really! ;-)

Kathleen said...

Happy Birthday! My middle son is twenty-nine today. Wow! So you think you're old. lol

I've been told by others in the industry that readers like young heroines, but I think it's great to find a story with an older couple. I myself, love to write about finding love later in life.

Author Leanne Dyck said...

Happy birthday!
Age is something that I rarely consider--ever. I've read books with characters a lot younger and a lot older as well my age.
My main characters generally are younger than myself. I think this is because I like to reflect on my life as I write.
After reading this article, I'm sure I will be more age-conscious.

Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka said...

Just to clarify (LOL) I *like* books with protagonists older than me. I just have a hard time writing them because of the type of thing I write. I don't like that much pain.

Now, if I was writing sweet romances where no "bad shit" happened, I could probably write characters my age more easily. For better or worse though, my stuff usually involves a lot of death and destruction and loss. Writing about a character who's lost her children is heart-breaking to me and very, very torturous.

For people who *can* do it, I applaud you, because it's a weakness of mine. I think it just hits a little too close to home.

Okay, I'm babbling. Going to shut up now LOL.

Kathleen, tell your son I said Happy Birthday :)

Maureen said...

I think, since I never had children, I stay away from having my main characters deal with this. The closest I've come is losing father figures, friends, even a beloved dog.

I think writing about someone losing a child would be beyond my ability to do it justice. I agree it's a difficult thing to consider!

Kim said...

I like reading about people younger than me, I feel alot older than I am but I think that is because of everything I have gone through in my life so far. As you stated the younger characters have 'less' to lose, but they also usually haven't lived long enough to be 'old'.
I love what you write even if I am in the older crowd.'
Hugs and Happy Birthday again.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE reading about character as OLD as me. :-)

Of course, I like them all, but it's fun to read a character I can really identify with.

Happy birthday to US!
For the record, you are lookin' good 'old'.


Becca Dale said...

You are not old Seleste– I’ve got you beat, I’d bet. As for characters' ages I like all ages as long as I can see them as real. There is such an innocence to the younger ones but a hard earned honesty to the older ones. As I age though, I sometimes find that really young or immature characters annoy me. I want to reach through the pages and smack them for being silly. LOL May that is because as a mother of twenty-somethings I want to do the same to my kids. :-D