Monday, July 19, 2010

Invisibility

There's been a lot in the media in recent times about how women become invisible in the media when they reach a certain age...some say 40, others 50. There was been quite a fuss last year about ageism at the BBC where older women seemed to be particularly targeted. Most women's magazines seem to want articles about younger women up to about 35, there are only a few magazines targeted at the members of the slightly older age group who are not quite yet ready for Saga magazine and its like.

All this made me start to think about fiction and commercial fiction in particular. After all, we always hear that there is no market for books about middle-aged women and many writers of chick lit or women's fiction seem to write about characters younger than themselves. With my first novel, I was no exception.

For a number of reasons I've actually been feeling quite invisible in life lately, so this lack of older characters was something I wanted to address in my second novel. As I'm planning the book, the two female characters aged in their 50s and 70s are proving far more interesting than those in their 20s, though I'm sure the younger ones will develop more fully in time, especially when I start to actually write.

Older women have so much life experience, so many talents, it's a shame if their voices can't be heard...

7 comments:

HelenMHunt said...

I tend to prefer writing about slightly older women. As you've said, they have more life experience and that makes the stories richer.

Queenie said...

Nicola Morgan wrote a very interesting post a while back about books with older heroines, did you see it? If not, it's here http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com/2010/02/heroines-in-their-prime-apply-within.html - the comments are good, too. Older women are definitely more interesting - but then I would say that, I suppose! ;-)

Cathy said...

Helen - I'm glad it's not just me who thinks that. Of course younger characters can have great depth too, I guess it depends partly on the skill of the writer and the storyline itself.

Queenie - thanks, I'd forgotten that post, though I did read it at the time. I find it interesting that many of the books mentioned are definitely at the literary end of women's fiction and that is also the market I target.

liz fenwick said...

I know what you mean personally and in my writing...Penderwon I have at 58 yr old woman and 24 yr old one and the older was a hell of a lot more fun to write. Thus far the beta reader have liked her more too & none of them any where near her in age... Good luck and hugs - you're not invisible.

lx

BabsMcG said...

I'd never thought of that before, but you are probably right. I dont feel older women are invisible to me, as at 44 I am becoming one of them and I see them all, but I can see how others do not see me. Hmmm interesting.

Cathy said...

Thank you Liz. My new novel will have two characters - mother and daughter - with a similar age gap and I'm finding the older character so much easier to create, even though she is very different to me! Oh, and you're certainly not invisible. x

Cathy said...

Babs, I think for most women there comes a point, usually in their fifties, when they suddenly start to look older (unless they've had surgery), and I wonder if that's when the invisibility really starts to kick in? It would certainly tie in with what happened at the BBC.