Thursday, April 14, 2016

On My Mind…Senior or Seasoned?

Back in the early nineties, I published a mini-magazine called the Seasoned Citizens Gazette: The Journal for the Not-Quite-Over-the-Hill-Gang. Because I lived in the Pikes Peak area, I invited seniors from Colorado Springs and surrounding towns to submit short stories, articles, poems, columns, etc. I, too, wrote pieces that were aimed at the AARP squad. My magazine was distributed free in senior communities and centers, pharmacies, and other places seniors frequented; it also could be subscribed to and mailed monthly (not for free) to private homes. Ads covered the printing. Beyond that, it was primarily a labor of love, as well as a fun way to keep my mind both occupied and creatively directed and provide an outlet for fellow seasoned citizens who had something to share.
by Verbaska on MorgueFile
It’s hard to believe that was some twenty-five years ago. A large number of my contributors are no longer with us, and I look back nostalgically at the experience of working with so many whose lives—and contributions to my journal—brought love and joy to others. I also reflect on what makes some of us “senior citizens” and others “seasoned citizens.”

What is a “seasoned citizen”? We have seen many seasons come and go; we can be spicy, tart, peppery, or sweet; we have weathered life’s storms and are still in there punching; we are survivors, persons for all seasons. It’s a mindset.

The Seasoned Citizens Gazette focused on ways to help ourselves, do for ourselves, share of ourselves. For the most part, we are still vital, healthy, life-loving folks. We are not a throw-away generation; in fact, we have more to offer in the way of wisdom and experience than any other group of people living today.

by Mockingbird on MorgueFile

What does this have to do with writing? Perhaps a lot. When I was publishing the Seasoned Citizens Gazette, I distributed hard copy by hand—after writing, editing, doing layout, paying printing costs, and buying gasoline to deliver the finished product. Today, it could be circulated worldwide on the Internet with little to no out-of-pocket costs. Advertising could still be an income source, and the yearly price of subscribing to the journal could be affordable for almost any budget. We could distribute nationally or even internationally, reaching an audience far wider than I could ever have done back in the day. We could advertise our books and/or our editing services in addition to publishing our own pearls of wisdom, as well as the gems contributed by others. We could encourage our contemporaries to get out of their rocking chairs, so to speak. We could launch a blog as Dani has done so capably here at Blood Red Pencil. We could build businesses based on our knowledge or learn to build websites to help others expand their businesses. All this requires written communication, aka writing. The pen is still mighty, and we can wield it with the proficiency of many years' experience.

Are you a senior citizen or a seasoned citizen? Or, if you’re still a young thing, which do you plan to be when you qualify for AARP?

Linda Lane and her editing team mentor and encourage writers at all phases of the writing process. To learn more about what they do, please visit them at www.denvereditor.com.

23 comments :

  1. Since the hubs is retiring, we are moving to a town with 120,000 "seasoned citizens." I'm told there are many writing groups here. I imagine a project like that would be an easy sell.

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  2. One thing that surprised me when I started the SCG was the number of seasoned citizens who contacted me and wanted to submit articles, poems, or short stories. Several of those became actively involved by sending regular submissions. Many of them were not even writers, and most had never been published in any format. It was a fun project, one I may revive when I retire again. Another idea I'm tossing around is creating seasoned citizen writing groups. Leaving a legacy of writing is leaving a bit of oneself. This appeals to a lot of us as we grow older. Question: where did you find "a town of 120,000 'seasoned citizens'"? Think how many residents there grew up reading books rather than watching TV or playing video games. You may have a built-in fan base, Diana. :-)

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  3. I do like the 'seasoned citizen' term. Well done, Linda.

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  4. Thank you, Elspeth. I like it because it makes me feel sassy, saucy, spicy, experienced, and lots of other fun things -- but not old.

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  5. I plan to write novels and other creative works until I drop, and to keep writing, editing, and coaching for clients as long as they'll hire me. My hope is that my husband and I will have enough solid investments by our 70's so that any work we do after will be more about "want to" than "have to." Giving back is important to me, and I plan to get back into that before I retire: perhaps teaching creative writing to seniors at OLLI or to young people in under-served schools. We creative writers are blessed to have a skill we can pursue all our lives.

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    1. Good for you, Cara! I really like the idea of giving back. Several years ago, when I was living in the Midwest, I held a seminar for seasoned citizens who wanted to do family history books or genealogies to leave behind for posterity. I had created and printed quite an elaborate one of my family, and others wanted to do the same. I moved away, so the chance to follow up on their interest didn't materialize as I'd hoped it would. Still, I believe a lot more people have stories to tell but no idea how to do it. Your ideas of working both will seniors and young people is a great way to address this.

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  6. I try to be a Seasoned Citizen, instead of just a Senior Citizen. I make lists for almost each day, and try to follow them. Sometimes, I do, other times, I just want to relax and not do much.

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    1. Those days of wanting to relax and do nothing come much more frequently than I like. On the other hand, it's kind of nice not to be required to do something, don't you think?

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  7. You are so right about the mindset, Linda. If my body wasn't always reminding me of my real age, I would still be thinking I was a mere 50. LOL

    I also love the idea of your Gazette. What a great experience that was for you, and I could see something very successful on the Internet now. Go for it, you saucy, spicy, experienced writer.

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    1. Once my life settles down a bit, I just might. It really was a fun project, and I think it might be doable anyplace where there's an active senior population. It brings a lot of us seasoned citizens back to reading like we did as youngsters and opens up a whole new world of writing possibilities. Just think what untapped talent may lie out there beneath those gray heads.

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  8. 70 this month, I'm just entering middle age, right? Thinking of retiring after 37 years of writing. I plan to spend the first year reading and gardening and going to concerts. After that, we'll see what crops up--volunteering, brushing up my French and Russian, maybe even my minimal Spanish, painting the interior of my house (still just as I bought it 24 years ago, except the master bath which was PeptoBismol pink), travelling, maybe even writing but NO DEADLINES!!

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    1. Go, Carola. I wonder how long you'll be able to stay away from writing though. :-)

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  9. You go, girl! Glad it's you painting and not me. Can't stand the smell of the stuff. I need to polish up my Spanish and seriously expand my vocabulary so I can work with writers in that language. Love the idea of no deadlines, not even the self-imposed variety. :-)

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    1. Paint doesn't smell as bad as it used to, since they took the worst of the volatile ingredients out.

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    2. I haven't painted in years, so this is good to know. Thanks, Carola.

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  10. Well Linda, I got my AARP card in a previous century ... and I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do when I grow up.

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  11. When you figure it out, Christopher, please let me know. I'm on that same page myself, but the writer thing keeps lassoing me and trying to pull into its corral.

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  12. I am definitely a seasoned citizen maybe a little overcooked at this point. I started my fourth career, writing, when I was 58. I'd never written anything before then, too busy with all those other things I was doing. Your idea is wonderful, Linda. Nothing wrong with being a seasoned senior.

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    1. I, too, was a late bloomer in the novel-writing arena, Polly. One of the coolest aspects of being a writer is the fact that one doesn't have to retire at any given age. As long as the mind produces, stories can pour forth from its fertile imagination. If the hands get arthritic, one can dictate a story into a program that converts it to text or work with a typist who does the manual stuff. Other options include directing a writers group; working with kids to nurture a love of reading and writing in the video-game generation; creating and directing writing workshops at senior centers, senior communities, or even assisted living facilities. How about helping seasoned citizens put together anthologies? Nobody then has the daunting task of penning an 80,000 word novel, and a well-planned and attractively laid-out book of short stories or books that branch out to include essays, fascinating personal experiences, and poetry to accompany short fictional tales could certainly appeal to buyers who like to read but whose schedules don't currently allow for getting engrossed in a long, compelling novel. Seasoned citizens bring to the table the skills acquired over a lifetime. Those who may not be interested in writing may, on the other hand, be great marketers. Perhaps they're artists or designers. It takes a village to raise a child, as the saying goes; it also takes a team to see a book from concept to creation. Endless possibilities for seasoned citizens, don't you think?

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    2. In addition to writing, I learned how to do every other facet of publication, from Photoshop and covers to formatting for both print and ebooks. Why rely on someone else if you can do it yourself. I've never taught a class though. Don't know if my message, just sit down and write, could develop into a couple of hours.

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  13. Well done! Interesting, informative and motivating!

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  14. Thanks for visiting BRP, Josette. Since so many of us are somewhere between seasoned and well seasoned, it seemed appropriate to address the fact that we aren't yet over the hill. :-)

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  15. Thank you all for your comments!

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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