old enough to know better, young enough to do it anyway

I’ve been trying to save money lately. Between being in a long distance relationship, attending several weddings this year and the high cost of living and playing in New York City, I spend way too much. However, I am not going to stop going out to dinner because I love trying new restaurants and most of my socializing revolves eating/drinking. And I’m not going to break up with my boyfriend because, well, he’s awesome. So, I’ve been trying to save money in other, smaller ways.

For instance, there was a time that I would buy books I wanted to read regardless of price. Now, I am waiting until the cost of some of the bigger named author’s books come down a bit before buying them and I might (brace yourself) actually start taking books out of the library rather than purchasing them. I still haven’t read Emily Giffin’s “Where We Belong” and it’s killing me but, seriously, $12.99 for a Kindle download is ridiculous.

I’ve also downloaded quite a few free reads on my Kindle lately. I started reading a few of them this weekend, but had to put them down. Not because the writing was bad, but because I couldn’t relate to the characters and, further, they made me feel bad about how my generation is being portrayed in books. The main characters in each of the books complained about gray hairs, and sagging bodies and boobs that were beginning to hang down to their bellies. In most cases, their husbands left them for someone younger or they were jealous of their younger counterparts and, in general, they didn’t seem to have any youthful spirit left in them. I assumed they must be at least in their fifties and was shocked to read a bit further and discover they were only in their late 30s-early 40s (my age range)! Unlike the characters in these books, I do not feel old and I don’t look old. Because I’m not old!

I’ve definitely matured in many ways since my 20s. My career has progressed, along with my salary. I’ve written three novels and published (almost) two. I still party, but I’ve learned to do so in moderation (mostly). Instead of staying out till 5am drinking cheap beer, I stay out till 1 or 2 drinking wine or prosecco. And I still drink cheap beer while watching football with friends on Sundays! I still have the same taste in television, movies and books, but instead of crushing on the teenage boy character, I like his dad. (Actually, sometimes I still crush on the teenager. When he’s played by Zac Efron…) Intellectually, I’ve become much more self aware which has enabled me to appreciate what is important and let go of what is not. I am definitely wiser and more “adult”. However, I am in just as good shape, if not better, than I was in my 20s. My boobs are not sagging. My face is not full of wrinkles. I still get hit on by men, both younger and older. And the night I met my current boyfriend who is a few years younger than me, a very cute 24-year-old girl was basically throwing herself at him, yet he only had eyes for me. I am still “young” at heart. Scratch that, I am still “young” – period, however, I am not a “girl”, I am a “woman.” Most of my entire circle of friends is just like me: we’ve grown up but we haven’t grown “old”.

Unlike most of the books I read, not all women in my age range are married with children. And not all of the single ones are divorced. Like our younger counterparts, some of us are in relationships that have not yet led to marriage, others are still looking for “the one” and some are simply happy playing the field. While I am sure that many women in my age range can relate to the characters in the books I read, I would love to read a novel that better represents me and my friends. The only one I’ve read that comes close to capturing that spirit is Erik Atwell’s “Thank You For Flying Air Zoe.”

I started writing my third novel about a 39 year old woman who personified my social circle but I temporarily put it aside to write something else. Now that I am in revisions of my work in progress, I am thinking that I might try again to write a novel that is neither about a young teeny bopper starting out in adulthood nor an aging woman who fears her best years are behind her. I would like to write a book about that undefined place in time when you’re old enough to know better but young enough to do it anyway.

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Comments

  1. Tracie Banister says:

    Wow! What a great post, Meredith, and I couldn’t agree more. Whatever happened to “40 is the new 30?” There’s no reason why women in our age range can’t still be young at heart and feel good about themselves. Honestly, I think that the best thing about being my age is that I do what I want to do and don’t give a flyin’ you-know-what about what other people think anymore. Knowing who you are and being proud of it is a wonderful thing!

    You make another good point about single women of a certain age not being represented in books. I have tons of attractive, successful, funny, amazing friends who are 40+ and have never been married or had kids and they’re fine with it! I, also, fall into this category. The world would be a pretty boring place if we all made the same life choices or followed a certain path because it was expected.

    I hope you do write a book with an older heroine who’s single and loving it! I would be first in line to read a novel like that! 🙂

    • Thanks, Tracie! Glad you liked the post. I think television is starting to get with it with some sexy, strong women in that age range, but I’m waiting for books to catch up. Or I’ll just drive the campaign myself!

  2. This is the perfect post, Meredith! I have the same issue as you when reading books. If the main character is over 35, they are made desperate and have so many issues that makes them instantly unlikable. And it kills me when the author is in her 20’s trying to write an older character that they just don’t understand.

    I like your statement “We have grown up, but we haven’t grown old”. I still embrace the same life that I had in my 20’s but I have learned to do it with moderation. Still having the time of my life.

    And I’ll be standing in line behind Tracie to read a book about an older heroine who is single and loving life. You should get writing that one. 😉

  3. So glad you liked the post, Michelle. And really happy that I am not alone in these feelings! I am still revising book 3 but hopefully, I will write that book someday.

  4. Meredith,

    I loved this post. It was very thought provoking in so many areas, from lack of good representations of single women in books and elsewhere in popular culture (which, to me, is why SITC was so popular, but lame that they almost all ended up coupled), to the idea that we are not old, and last to maturing but still not having all the answers as we may have thought we would have when in our 20s. Still can’t wait for the book.

  5. I did like the way SATC portrayed them as fabulous when the show started to equally fabulous when it ended. They all grew up but not old. And, yes, they still struggled with not having it all figured out. I’m pretty certain I will NEVER have it all figured out but it makes life more fun! With books, I am not so much concerned with them showing “single” women my age as much as them portraying fun, quirky,attractive and strong women my age, regardless of relationship status, some of whom look just as good in a bathing suit as twenty-somethings WITHOUT plastic surgery!!

  6. Love this post!! Completely agree – not everyone who is over 35 is going through the same issues and it will be refreshing to see a new take on what life is really like! (So your fourth book?) 🙂

  7. Glad you liked the post! Still working on my third book but it’s something I am definitely toying with for book 4. I just need a plot…

  8. That sounds like a great book and I hope you write it. You are right…too many books focused on characters who fear getting older and have only negative things to look forward to. We need a book about a heroine who is happy in her life, looks and feels great with a great storyline. I hope you write it!!!

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