WRITING WHILE FORTY: Is the Pen Mightier Than the Middle Age Storm?
Written by
Alexandra Caselle
December 2012
Written by
Alexandra Caselle
December 2012

Sleep lifts me out of its mishmash fogbank of dreamscapes. A Charlie horse gallops up my right leg, making me stomp the savoy out of the carpet. The bathroom mirror projects the new crop of salt-and-pepper hairs along my hairline, lip, and chin.  The Piccadilly’s cashier I smirked at last year and I will soon have matching mustaches and goatees. She and I could probably be fill-ins for Brad Pitt’s Chanel commercial.

Ahh…another morning has made its presence known.

I go back into my bedroom and there is P & J.  He taps his foot from left to right as he blows his bang from his freckled forehead in a jet stream of fed-up sighs.  He is standing in front of his trailer where a tornado has destroyed all the brick and mortar homes surrounding him, waiting for me to give his eyewitness account. He is soon joined by Mama Gregory hovering above on a wave, her wings sparkling on her hybrid body.  Snatches of scenes bounce back and forth against the barrier blocking the right side of my brain.

Twenty one years ago, I had no problem with writing.  Characters took ahold of me, and I wrote their life stories and recreated their worlds, and I had no choice in the matter.  But life has gotten in the way.  I am frozen by choices that I have made, illnesses that almost took my life, and wrong turns that I wish I could correct.  Circumstances have made me wonder if I still have the ability to create.

Forty is knocking at my door like an unwanted guest and the characters and the stanzas are inside, waiting for me to start. 

With this first blog, I take the plunge back into the writing world.  I grab P&J’s miniature hand, nod my head toward Mama Gregory and open the door for forty. I invite them all into my writing space. As with any time you share a space with anyone or anything, there will be times when it will feel cramped and times when it will feel peaceful.  What matters is that I keep writing. I will truly see if the pen is mightier than the middle age storm. Or at least if it is mightier than the hot flashes of the menopause that is soon to come. 

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  • Alexandra Caselle

    Thanks for your comment, Margaret. I agree with you about when you have children you discover what you can do. I always wanted to have twins. I only have one child. Entering your forties does make you fearless. For me, it is also a total reinvention of myself. And to reinvent yourself during this stage of life is definitely fearless.

  • Margaret Auguste

    I started writing in my forties too.  It was strange, I always loved to read but writing my own stories seemed impossible.  Then I had twins and I swear that it is true having children brings things out of you that you never knew you were capable of.  I started writing essays about parenting issues and had my first one about being an mother and dealing with skin color and culture issues with my children published in a book of essays.  The story just seemed to pour out of me.  There really is something also about becoming older-you become fearless.

  • Alexandra Caselle

    Thank you. It's all or nothing. I'm not waiting any longer to pursue my dream. I hope you enjoy your holidays, Margaret. :)

  • Margaret Crum

    Wonder no longer, Alexandra. Your gift of writing is alive and well. I am sorry to hear of your illness and the challenges that you have had to face. 

  • Alexandra Caselle

    Thank you for your response, Margaret. I have been a teacher for most of my career. Writing was on the back burner, with me only having time to write during breaks. Anyone who has taught knows that teaching is a fulltime job and so is writing. Both were vying for myattention. But my kick in the pants came when I lost my memory three years ago and I blacked out while driving and had problems with walking. Losing the ability to think clearly, remember things, and not being able to walk were difficult to deal with and recover from; I wondered if I still have my gift of writing. Hence the feeling of wondering if I was too old or if I missed my opportunity. But these blog entries are jumpstarting my writing and getting me back in the swing of things. It is a learning curve.

  • Margaret Crum

    I've been writing professionally since my 40's. My passion for writing has been alive and well all my life, but I didn't really pursue it as a career until after my 40th birthday. I believe the older I get the better understanding I have of the vast differences, and amazing similarities that are unique to every human being. Life's experiences and years of learning from my own mistakes give me a bounty of ideas from which to draw upon. Is the pen mightier than the middle age storm? Most definitely, yes. Even if there are times in your life when you put down the pen for a season, remember that you are a writer, writing is your gift, all you have to do is pick up that pen and wield it. 

  • Alexandra Caselle

    Thank you for your response, Cheryl. I mostly wrote stories ever since I was a child. I did poetry in secret because I thought it wasn't good enough. I called it emoetry because I only used it to express my emotions or opinions or capture an image. Then I discovered Sonia Sanchez and her way of manipulating haikus to say powerful things and create vivid images. I fell in love with haikus and started writing poetry more.

  • Cheryl Roshak Writing

    I didn't start writing seriously until my late 50's and that was 10 years ago and I'm still writing. I'd written all my life on and off, here and there, mostly journaling though, a play here, short stories there, never poetry though. I had been writing short stories and hit a brick wall and decided for the hell of it to take an online intro to poetry writing workshop. I think it was in the fourth grade that I wrote a poem in five minutes as that was the project I had been assigned to do when I really wanted to make a diorama. I marched up to the teacher back then and gave her my poem. It was called. "In China" And every line began with "In China" and it rhymed in couplets. The teacher handed me back my poem and told me to make the diorama as this was the worst poem she had ever read, thus ending any poetic aspirations I might have secretly held. But this poetry workshop I took in my late fifties opened a whole new world for me and I feel in love with poetry. I started writing poetry madly, passionately, prolifically for years, but never had the courage to send any single one of them out to a contest or a lit magazine. Only now am I gaining the courage to do that. So embrace your forties. It's a most wonderful decade where you come into your own, gather your strength and power and the courage to live with conviction. I wish this for you.

  • Alexandra Caselle

    Thank you for your response, Melissa. Yes, they are indeed the devil. LOL

  • M. Kinnel

    I'm right there with you, Alexandra! I'm over 40 but I think as we get older, we've had more experience in life and have more ideas for draw from.

    P.S. Those charlie horses are the devil! LOL!

  • Alexandra Caselle

    Thank you Kameko and Anne for responding.

    I agree with you about knowing what you want. I used to hold things in alot, but now I speak up more and let my needs be known. I'm looking forward to my 50s too. That Hover Around looks comfortable--no car insurance, no car payment. Oh and of course deeper knowledge and writing :)

    I'm beginning to realize that a piece I am writing is not ready to be born yet either. I can understand your daughter's frustration. As for my younger self, I would tell her that what she had gone through was painful but to let it go sooner and to take more risks.

  • Anne Parks

    My freshman-in-college daughter came to me today and stated, quite emphatically, "I don't think I am a writer!"  When I asked her why she felt that way, she informed me it is because she has been working on a story for a few months, and is struggling with it.  Julie, I agree with your assessment: the best thing about getting older, is the experience a writer can draw on for their work.  I let life get in the way, also, and have just returned to writing.  All my life experience has been amazingly beneficial, and offered me clarity in my writing.  

    As for my response to my younger self, I told her the story she is trying to write is not ready to be told yet.  Put it aside, and wait for it.  

    Alexandra...I nearly snorted wine out my nose reading your opening!  I really enjoyed the blog!

  • Alexandra Caselle

    Yes, I totally agree. I feel like I do have more insight into my life now and I have grown and developed more as a woman. I realized how sometimes things happen in life that position us to recreate ourselves as individuals and as writers. So I'm excited to focus more on my writing now. Age also instills patience. Not only do wisdom and humility add depth to our writing, but surviving life experiences has taught us to be still and accept the present situation as it is and learn the lessons within it. We can sit a spell and accept our characters for who they are and look for the lessons within their lives and develop them into stories or change someone's life through our own life stories. So yes let us write :)

    Thank you for responding, Julie.

  • Julie Luek

    Ohhhh I'm doing this too only staring at 50.  Good heavens, what made me think I could pick up this thread in my life now?  I'll tell you what did: aging.  Ironic, isn't it?  The very number that trips me in fear, is the number that makes me able to stare it down and say, "What the hell-- live the dream now or let life pass you by."  And here's the delightful secret you don't know in your 20s: aging gives you depth and insight and wisdom and humility. All the lovely ingredients we stir and create a delicious, satisfying stew of words and stories we couldn't possible tell 20-30 years ago.  Let us write.