Why Write ABout Old Ladies Behaving Badly?

Thanks to generous friend and fabulous writer Bett Norris http://bettnorris.wordpress.com/ for tagging me to join this discussion about the writing process. I loved her first two books Miss McGhee and What’s Best for Jane. Can’t wait to read her next book. Find out more about Bett and buy her books here http://www.bywaterbooks.com/bett-norris

1) What am I working on?
A novel titled Fishwives about old ladies behaving badly. By badly I mean autonomously – a condition often discouraged and disparaged in old people. The book begins when the two women meet in Manhattan in the 1950’s and ends when they are both in their late eighties. Most of the action (action and old ladies are not mutually exclusive in this story) takes place when the women are old. I have been pitching this novel as a story about “old women behaving badly”. At a reading from this manuscript at Smith College recently more than one person changed the sound bite from “old ladies behaving badly” to “old women behaving badly”. No one felt the need to change the “behaving badly” part of the description. I prefer the term old lady to old woman because it seems sassier. Somehow the lady part feels flipped into a whole new messy kick-ass meaning when paired with old. Like dyke or queer, use of the term old lady is my way of taking back the phrase on my own terms. I am an aging woman, will be sixty-three in July, so possibly an old lady already. Not sure of the official age for old ladyhood. The time when we can receive Social Security in the US keeps going up, but I’m not sure it directly relates to the actuality of being old. I plan to continue behaving badly no matter when my checks arrive.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Not sure what genre this book falls into. Fiction. Drama. Humor. Queer. Romance. Adult. The allusive Literary with a capital L. I have not seen a whole lot written about old people, especially books where the main characters are octogenarians with eighty-seven year-old POV’s. I would be grateful for other folks’ recommendations for good books with elderly protagonists. I am especially interested in sexuality and old people.

3) Why do I write what I do?
Class, sex, illness, and the absurdity of life have always fascinated me. Lately I have added growing old to the list. I like the idea of writing about long entwined lives because it gives me a chance to mess with the rhythm of time and shifting relationships.

4) How does my writing process work?
I write best in the morning after coffee and oatmeal with my beloved Cindy and Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. I am slow but steady when I write. Rewriting and revision are a big part of my process. This summer I hope to write write write – with friends family and gardening in between.

Next up are fabulous writers Sandra Lambert and Marianne K Martin.

Sandra Gail Lambert http://www.sandragaillambert.com writes fiction and memoir and her debut novel, The River’s Memory, is due out in July from Twisted Road Publications. Excerpts of it have won prizes from the Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest and Big Fiction Magazine. She’s also been published in New Letters, The Weekly Rumpus, the North American Review, and Arts & Letters as well as the anthologies First Person Queer and Something to Declare: Good Lesbian Travel Writing. Sandra lives with her partner in Gainesville, Florida – a home base for trips to her beloved rivers and marshes. http://www.sandragaillambert.com
Sandra’s lush transcendent stories are a pleasure to read. I got the chance to read excerpts from The River’s Memory and can’t wait to read the whole novel. Available soon at https://twistedroadpublications.com/product/302/

Marianne K. Martin http://redroom.com/member/marianne-k-martin taught in the Michigan public school system for twenty-five years, has worked as a photo-journalist, a photographer, and coached both high school and collegiate teams as well as amateur ASA teams. Her coaching career produced many Tri-County and MHSAA championship basketball and softball teams and championship ASA softball teams. She was founder of the Michigan Woman’s Major Fastpitch Assoc. and its president for ten years. In 1973 she won the precedent-setting case in a Michigan court establishing equal pay for women coaches.
Ms Martin is the best-selling author of Legacy of Love, Love in the Balance, Never Ending, Dawn of the Dance, Dance in the Key of Love, and three Lambda Literary Award finalists, Mirrors, Under the Witness Tree, and For Now, For Always.
Her short stories have been included in a number of anthologies. Her most recent, Fire and Ice, appears in the second edition of the on-line issue of Read These Lips.
She is co-owner of Bywater Books and currently splits her time between her publishing responsibilities and writing.
Marianne is one of my favorite human and writers. Her heart and her subject matter are big and brave. Find more about Marianne and buy her books here http://www.bywaterbooks.com/martin

About sallybellerose

Author of The Girls Club, Bywater Press, spring 2011 http://amzn.to/apVqj1 writer gardener booklover
This entry was posted in mainstream literature, writing process and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Why Write ABout Old Ladies Behaving Badly?

  1. Heidi Ehrenreich says:

    Hi Sally. As a lady of sage 66! I have noticed how after 65 my life aspirations changed–developmental tasks do to speak. Invisibility seems to be societies way of dealing with old ladies unless their bad behavior is newsworthy. As boomers we contine to make the invisible visible. I can not wait to read your gorgeous words on this subject.

    Heidi Ehrenreich Circles of Communication 413 – 247-9089 413-563-0963. iPhone


    • Hi Heidi, Thanks for the kind words. Yes, we Boomers are going to be hard to keep quiet no matter how old we are. Love the phrase “make the invisible visible.” Happy writing.

  2. bevprescott says:

    You are definitely one kick ass “lady.” I love your writing, and thanks for sharing a little about your writing process. Cheers!

  3. Thanks Bev. We have a mutual fan club.

  4. Pingback: I Dreamed About Ellen Hart | Bett Norris

  5. Pingback: Sandra Gail Lambert » Writing From the Body

  6. joskehan says:

    Sally I have just recently become aware of your blog and of your book thanks to our mutual friend Marguerite Quantaine – a wonderful writer and lovely lady I am sure you will agree – and am delighted to see you like to write about the ‘older’ generation too. I am currently writing a book about Iris who is in her late 70s and wants to go on a road trip alone, but is meeting with a lot of opposition from her family. I find as I get older (not anywhere near 70 yet!) that our younger members of the family all seem to assume we become doddery and incapable overnight. I intend to prove them all wrong! Hope to keep in touch with you in the future – and thanks for taking a look at my blog recently also.

    • How wonderful to be part of this cadre of women writing about women in their later years. Yes, Marquerite is a wonderful writer, warm and tough and clear-eyed. I lift my cup of Sleepy Time tea to you and Marrguerite and to you proving them all wrong. Please do keep in touch.

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