Friday, July 12, 2013

The New Thirty???

This is a guest post by Jean Lorrah

Last February, a news release appeared all over the media, claiming that 72 is the New Thirty. I noted it in particular because I am 72, and suddenly things are happening to me that should have happened when I was 30.

I'm a writer of science fiction and fantasy. When I really was 30 I had not managed to get even one book published yet, though I have published more than twenty since. I started out as what used to be called a midlist author, not a best-seller, but someone whose books had a following and sold a respectable number of copies. For years I didn't have to worry whether my next book would be published--it would be. Of course I longed to be a Big Name, but I had security as a writer.

In the 1990's all that changed. Big publishers were gobbled up by bigger publishers who were gobbled up by huge conglomerates, and publishing became a business like any other as the marketing departments took over making all decisions. Their biggest decision as far as writers were concerned was to kill the midlist, not because it was not profitable, but because it was not profitable ENOUGH. They could make more money by selling more copies of each of a much smaller list of books, so that is what they did. Everyone whose last book did not make the best-seller list was told to go away and not come back.

If I had been born one generation--thirty years--earlier than I was, I would have died a failure, pushed out of publishing and forgotten. Instead, thanks to modern medicine and lifestyle, I have survived two different kinds of cancer and then just last December was able to have my afib corrected through a procedure called an ablation (so it won't kill me with a stroke as it did my father, his brother, and their mother).

Staying alive gave me time to look around for a different outlet for my creativity. Watching first cable/satellite and then the internet develop a voracious need for programming, I studied screenwriting during the years when the promise of the ebook didn't happen and didn't happen and didn't happen. Eventually my writing partner Lois Wickstrom and I got good enough that our script, Coal for Christmas, won a Gold Remi in the family category at WorldFest in 2012, and now our film is in preproduction. Movies should have been made from my works when I was 30--but I'm not going to turn it down at 72!

And I was still alive when Amazon finally made the ebook revolution happen. All my books came back into print with requests for new ones. After twenty years of no one but frustrated fans wanting new work from me, I was writing again--and COULD because I had outlived the drought period for writers, and am around to take advantage of the renaissance of publishing.

To top it off, Jacqueline Lichtenberg (my partner in Sime~Gen) and I were approached a year ago by a game designer--something else that should have happened when we were 30. But it's happening now:

Am I going to complain? Certainly not! Oh, I could wish that some of this bounty had happened when I was younger and had more energy to do the work and enjoy the fun. But mine is just one of millions of stories that now can happen as people live longer: we have new opportunities to weather the ups and downs of life, and enjoy a life of not just second chances, but thirds, and even fourths.


  1. If your age is the New Thirty, I haven't hit it yet, being just 60 this past November.

    Been working with you and Jacqueline for about 30+ years, and working with Lois Wickstrom for also several years.

    I'm thrilled these great things are happening for each of you now, while you CAN still enjoy it. Never give up on your dreams.

  2. I am one of the fans that waited, and knew that something good would happen again one day. I am so pleased that you and Jacqueline, and others that shared your fate with the publishing changes, have been able to enjoy the new life your works are going through.

  3. Jean, you are an inspiration!

  4. Thanks, Everybody.

    I'm just glad to live now, when it's possible to wait out trends till they turn your way.