I was doing some research for the novel I want to write in the month of November (NaNoWriMo) is around the corners Writers! October is for plotting if you want to participate), and I first came across a book, then its writer, and then a quote that intrigued me enough to share them with you all.
I will explain all those in the same order.
I watched the movie Edie, on TV the night before and loved it.
The movie was about an 83-years-old bitter and gruff woman who had spent the previous 30 years of her life looking after her husband, who had a stroke. After his death, and when her relationship with her daughter begins to worsen (she is persuading her to move into a retirement home). Edith runs away from home. All her life, she has been doing things for others. She didn’t want to die with a bundle of regrets. So, while still in good health, she attempts to address at least one of them — to climb a mountain in the Scottish Highlands.
The movie was so refreshing that I wonder if there is a market for books with middle-aged protagonists.
My research led me to a book called Fleishman Is in Trouble.
Fleishman Is In Trouble is about a middle-aged man who is finally free from his nightmare marriage and is ready for a life of online dating.
The book came about from an unusual incident when its author, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, went for lunch with a friend.
Her friend, a male, dropped a bombshell at lunch, “ I’m getting a divorce. I have already moved out. The alimony has worked out. The child support worked out too.” Then he took out his phone and showed Taffy how difficult it is for somebody of their age to be on dating apps.
Taffy’s mind was blown. Not because she didn’t think she was “that’ old, she was going through her struggles of being in the ‘invisible’ age group. She was stupefied because she had never seen anything like this.
She thought, if I had never seen anything like it, other people may not too. So it might be a good story.
So she left the luncheon and called her editor at GQ and said, “I have to do a story about dating apps.”
“You know, you don’t usually sound like a clueless New Jersey housewife in her middle age, but right now, you do.” Her editor explained to her that the GQ readers know all about dating apps, and they’re not going to risk their reputation as a hip magazine on a 40-year-old woman writing about dating apps.
That pissed Taffy off.
Taffy Brodesser-Akner didn’t intend to become a journalist. She went to film school. While working her way through the curriculum, she showed a couple of things to her professors, who said, “This isn’t good.” She figured she was not going to make it into screenwriting.
So, right after college, she got a job in journalism because that was a thriving industry (You are meant to laugh here!).
She kept telling herself; I am not a good creative writer, I am not a good screenwriter, nor a good journalist, but I should be happy that I am having a go at it.
Eventually, journalism made her a good storyteller.
And she knew when she found a good story. A middle-aged man finding his way through dating apps was a good story.
Straight after the call with her editor, Tassy pulled over into a restaurant. She sat down and wrote the first ten pages of her first novel.
Now the question was how to write the rest of the novel.
While still grappling with the idea, Taffy Brodesser-Akner saw something on Twitter by the magazine writer Chris Jones that blew her mind:
If you write 500 words four days a week, on the fifth day you revise those 2,000 words, and on Monday you start over again, in a year you will have finished a book.
She wrote the first 30 pages in one month. In six months, she finished her novel.
It was published in June 2019 and instantly became a Sunday Times and The New York Times bestseller.
She said she wrote the first 30 pages in one month.
The middle-aged demographic is on the rise. According to 2005 statistics, the average age in Western World is predominantly 40+. Just in last night’s news, it was mentioned that according to recent statistics, 50% of the Australian population is more than 50 years old.
Books with middle-aged protagonists are doing well. Apart from Fleishman Is In Trouble, there are many more which are doing well.
Four days of writing and one day of editing is a brilliant strategy. You can change the number of words to your capacity. It can be applied to NaNoWriMo. Write 2000 words a day for 3 days, edit on the 4th day, then start again.