There's an interesting debate on Nicola Morgan's blog today about the difficulties that older writers might face trying to land an agent or a publishing contract in today's market.
For me it made depressing reading because, if it is correct, both my age and my recent diagnosis will put me at a significant disadvantage. Obviously I don't need to disclose my age (and I am told I look younger anyway), but my MS will most likely be evident to anyone I might meet, as I now usually walk painfully slowly, often with a stick.
But then I looked at it another way. I have had so many life experiences, in a professional career, as a mother and a carer. Elements of all of these have fed into my novel. In other words, I couldn't have written the book I have just finished when I was much younger. Neither could I have done the OU distance creative writing courses, which built my confidence enough to attempt a novel, when my boys were very small ( apart from anything else they didn't exist then).
I've been writing seriously for five years. My writing has come a long way in that time and will no doubt continue to improve. I have been published, with my work having been selected for anthologies by writers I admire. The potential must be there and, unlike many other jobs, there is no need to retire from writing at a particular age. I have many, many writing years ahead of me and due to changes in family circumstances I now have more time to devote to writing than I ever did before.
I just hope that when I start to submit my novel in the next few months, agents and publishers will be able to look beyond such prejudices. So how can I sell my ability not only to write but to promote my work? Well I blog. I'm on Twitter and Facebook. I network with other writers. I live in London, not the middle of nowhere which could be more restricting while I can't drive. For the first time in 18 years I am not the sole carer in the family, which gives me much more flexibility. Perhaps most of all I now have more hunger to get it right and have been willing to invest time and money to do so. Finally, I write Women's Fiction which I hope would appeal to women across a wide age range rather than a narrow demographic.
Would all that convince you?