The author as a young man (or woman)…

Word count: 228 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help writers. Today I discuss a series of  photographs of young writers recently posted on Buzzfeed…

When I was 20, I thought I ruled the world. Now that I’m in my mid-50s, I’ve absorbed my share of battle scars, earned my wrinkles and greying hair and eaten plenty of meals at the Humility Diner. Still, it’s always invigorating to see the unfettered optimism of the young.

Buzzfeed recently posted some 24 photos of authors in the prime of their youth. Contemporary best-sellers such as Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman rub shoulders with such late veterans as Sylvia Plath and J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s fascinating to see these writers with their unlined, carefree faces.

I particularly enjoyed the photo of James Joyce, (above), which was enough to make me go looking for a later portrait (also shown here.) Isn’t it fascinating to see how similar — and yet, how different — he looks?

Somehow age makes us warier and less exuberant. It not only limits our flexibility (both physically and metaphorically) it also seems to limit our ability to be joyful.

Yet aging also makes us smarter. We’ve seen more. We’ve made plenty of mistakes. We’ve learned from them.

Is life easier for young writers or older ones? What do you think?

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