Our CNF at CRAFT will be posted every two weeks, alternating CNF flash and longer essays, and I won't post them all here, but this is just our second, and I'm so excited that we landed Ryan Van Meter's "First," which I've taught so often in my classes. (I taught his entire essay collection in my graduate seminar on contemporary memoir, and invited him to our campus to read.) I was worried about writing these craft-based introductions, but actually enjoyed writing the first four (all reprints that I chose because I like them so much; I was thrilled that the editor-in-chief agreed). Two more reprints to come, both wonderful. And hundreds and hundreds of CNF submissions are pouring in. Lots of hard decisions.
Ageism: why am I surprised? And why am I surprised when ageism is masked as its opposite?
I was startled and offended to read this by an editor on twitter today: "Just finished working with an incredible writer for an essay we'll be publishing at xxx. She's in her sixties, and that voice, that lens, is rarely seen in the lit mag world. Like older women are supposed to write novels about detectives who love cats, or just stfu."
It seems to me that most great essayists are over 60, or at least many (perhaps because it requires retrospect?), and that I read many writers over 60 in general, and I never dreamed that creativity after 60 might be surprising or noteworthy or that anyone was saying stfu.
When I raised a mild objection, the editor answered by making the same point all over again. I'm sure she wouldn't dream of writing a tweet like this about a Black writer's submission, for example, or that a tweet like this about a Black writer would get 100 likes as this one did. The substitution should demonstrate what's wrong with treating a writer over 60 like this.
Literary twitter suddenly feels a lot less welcoming, less like "my" community.
(Ironically, this afternoon's Zoom event was a great conversation between Sharon Dolin and Kim Addonizio about Sharon's HITCHCOCK BLONDE. Both writers over 60 who are publishing all over the place. )