You’ve seen the buzz about Coastal Grandmothers. And then the parody pushback by Women of a Certain Age claiming cultural appropriation. But we’ve yet to see much about Bicoastal Grandmothers, of which I’m a proud example.
Three kids and one grandkid live on the West Coast, while one kid and three grandkids live on the East Coast. I myself live in the South, after following my firstborn to North Carolina and deciding that, no, I didn’t then want to follow him to NYC (Note to self: Never follow your kids. Will I take my own advice? Stay tuned.).
Two weeks ago, my guy and I flew to San Diego and drove up to Portland, visiting family and friends along the way. Plus we set foot in the Pacific, which feels like family to me. We arrived back home to the North Carolina Triangle late last night.
While I blissed out on grandbaby, the world was busy turning. An interview I did with Wendy Green on Hey Boomer
before I left generated lots of interest in my class, Thee and Me Could Write a Bad Romance. I've just led the last of eight sessions for members of Secure Senior Connections, and I plan to offer it again for all of you. Creativity is key to our personal happiness—and writing about our vivid lives pushes back on the caricatures of people over sixty so prevalent in our society. What better way to claim our agency than by writing in a form that can also generate sales, if you choose to publish? Years ago I worked for a biotech company with the motto “Doing well by doing good.” We writers can do that too.
Meanwhile crone culture is taking off. A new collection of erotic fiction by an 80-year-old woman has just hit the stands. Cat Brushing
by Jane Campbell is by turns funny and morbid, with terrific prose and just a hint of old lady vengeance. And every day I hear about another resource for all of us. NextTribe features news for crones, such as a preview of a BBC dating show for midlifers. Deborah Copaken’s marvelous Substack newsletter Ladyparts tackles women's health past midlife, gendered ageism, and much more.
And of course there's the Women of a Certain Age podcast, Girl’s Night Out, with the following amazing premise:
At 59, Dr Grace Rowland has the perfect family and is at the peak of her career as Chief Scientist at Feelrite. But when she warns Feelrite that their new anti-aging treatment has side-effects, she is suspended and disgraced. She begins to manifest powers - her hot flashes are weaponized and her midlife 'invisibility' becomes more than a metaphor. Then things get a whole lot stranger.
Isn’t that delicious? Don’t you want to see it made into a movie? (Turns out it was a film script first, as I found out when I wrote to them about The Writer’s Lab).
We are all collaborators in this great work of celebrating the agency of Women of a Certain Age. Don’t you want a resource hub with all this great stuff—and so much more? I do too. Send me your favorite books/podcasts/shows/websites, please, at stella [@] stellafosse.com. I’m collecting it all to put up on the internet to help us connect with one another. And when you publish your next book, please let me know!
All this inspiration makes me want to write and teach writing 24/7. So many projects, so little time. In addition to compiling the resource hub, here are plans for the rest of the year:
Write a vampire romance (inspired by Pamela Skjolsvik’s Forever 51, as well as teaching my course). Will give you a sneak peek when the draft is ready.
Complete the revisions on the sequel to Brilliant Charming Bastard and push that bird out of the (publishing) nest. You’ll find more adventures of Women Scientists of a Certain Age in The Palace of Wisdom.
Finish the draft of the creative retirement book that Steevie Jane Parks and I have been hatching for what feels like years (probably because it has been years). You can look forward to great ideas and stories of women inventing their best lives.
Teach more workshop series for Secure Senior Connections: one on Creative Editing, the other a fun class on Writing Boldly. Then I’ll update them and share them with you in 2023.
Offer you, dear readers, Thee and Me Could Write a Bad Romance as a workshop series (and maybe a book next year!)
Plus, you know, sleep, do laundry, hit the gym. How did I ever have time for that biotech carreer?
Next month we’ll head to Brooklyn and step into the Atlantic Ocean, which will do for a saltwater fix when the Pacific isn’t around. And cuddle three grandbabies, one of whom already trounces me at chess. She is a great reminder of why we do this. As Ashton Applewhite says, we are all aging, all the time. Pushing back on ageism is good for everybody, including our daughters and granddaughters.
So keep the keys clicking (or the pen moving). What you write is essential, for you, for us, for everyone.
I typically publish two blog articles (published online on the 10th and the 20th) and this newsletter every month, so you hear from me (or a guest blogger) a couple of times a month. Below is a brief extract from last month's blog - click the links for the whole enchilada! If you've ever considered getting your voice out there, I welcome suggestions for topics, or a fully written guest piece in line with my philosophy for the site. Drop me a line......
I now live several states away and read your paper on a screen. Still, the daily experience of reading the Times brings me back to the 1970s: to mornings in Brooklyn with a poppyseed bagel in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Ever since, throughout the events of my lifetime, public and private, the Times has been my trusted companion. And it remains front and center through these post-Roe days.
Yet I realize that even the paper of record has limitations. You know that too. In the 1990s the Times conducted your own analysis of why your coverage of the Holocaust had been so lacking during World War II. And more recently, the Times published an editorial by Senator Tom Cotton calling for federal troops to be brought in to George Floyd protests. The article was criticized for containing misinformation and for being inflammatory, increasing the possibility of violence against protestors. Though the Times initially defended the decision to publish, the article was later retracted. You reflected, and you learned.
In 1971, Erica Jong interviewed the legendary Anais Nin, who was then in her sixties. Jong asked Nin why she allowed her publisher to cut the sex out of her diaries.
“Women who write about sex are never taken seriously as writers,” said Nin.
“That’s exactly why we must do it,” said Jong.
That year I was a freshman, studying writing at a top liberal arts college. My writing teachers were all men. According to them, Philip Roth’s sex-fueled novels were literature, but Erica Jong’s sexy tales were trash. It did not occur to me that there was a double standard. When I was a junior, one of those male professors sat down with my future ex-husband and explained to him what was “wrong” with my writing and how I needed to fix it. I found that mildly irritating but until years later I didn’t understand how deplorable it was. After all, I had grown up in the 1950s on Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, those icons of passive young femininity.