According to Ashton Applewhite in This Chair Rocks:A Manifesto Against Ageism, at 5:10 tonight, when I enter my writing class, I will be an “Older”.
Older is a relative term; not of bucket into which a person is placed. There are times–increasingly rare–when I might be considered a “Younger”. Tonight will not be one of those times. Tonight, I will be surrounded by Youngers.
In fact, I suspect I’ll be the oldest in the room, perhaps even surpassing my instructor. I will not ask. I don’t want to know. Because that is not what matters.
What matters is, at this older age, I’m returning to the classroom to be taught the fine art of fiction writing. I’ll put pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, and spew letters, words, and paragraphs, onto the page, hoping they bring insight, first to me, and then to my readers. Finally, I’ll wait for my generational peer, my professor, to place her mark upon my page.
I wonder, are the Youngers feeling this same trepidation? Are their hearts jammed against the base of their throat? Do the Youngers question their ability to form a coherent thought worth sharing? Do they wonder if they have any opinions at all?
For a woman who’s become expert at straddling the gray, seeing many sides of polarizing issues, and playing the peace-maker, the idea of creating characters who take a stand, speak out, and claim your attention, even for a moment, is intimidating.
Then I think of the novel, A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. Ove’s character was beautifully annoying and abrasive. He was strong-willed, opinionated, and endearing. And I think, maybe, during this MFA program, I’ll create a character as memorable as Ove.
That’s why tonight, despite my nerves, this Older will join the Youngers, and start my journey to getting my Master of Fine Arts.
For those of you who have supported and encouraged me on this journey, thank you!