- Listen to Ron's Interview with Priscilla Long -
Why Old Age May Be Your Prime Time for Creative Productivity
For many decades, we’ve held a conventional assumption that the “peak ages” of creativity are between 39 and 42. It ain’t necessarily so, says poet, writer and teacher Priscilla Long in her recently published book, “Dancing with the Muse in Old Age.” In fact, she says, our older years are a prime time to flourish in creative productivity—even a prime time to BEGIN creative work. In today’s episode, Priscilla reflects on new ways of to look at old age as a potentially dynamic time, full of connections to others and deeply satisfying work. Her book provides examples of hundreds prominent people who grew very old while living remarkably creative lives—many of them in the arts, but others in a wide range of fields and endeavors. Yes, Priscilla acknowledges, ageism can poison creativity. But she challenges these deep and often unconscious prejudices, affirming that in old age, creative work can truly thrive. And these opportunities are not merely for the brilliant, exceptional elders. They’re for all of us, Priscilla affirms. She offers a series of questions we should ask ourselves as we strive to shape an old age of flourishing well-being, learning and engagement in creative work—while we also help reshape the future of the middle-aged, the young, and the generations to come.
Priscilla Long is a Seattle-based writer, poet, editor, and a longtime independent teacher of writing. She writes science, poetry, history, creative nonfiction, and fiction. She is author of six books (to date), including the how-to-write manual The Writer's Portable Mentor. Her work appears in numerous literary publications, both print and online, and her science column "Science Frictions" ran for 92 weeks online at The American Scholar. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Washington and serves as founding and consulting editor of HistoryLink.org, the free online encyclopedia of Washington state history. Of her writing, the novelist Laura Kalpakian (b. 1945) said, "She won't be confined by forms. This is what made her recent Fire and Stone such a protean, exciting book. Yes, it's a vivid memoir, but she also asks questions of The Past, not simply her own, but the larger anthropological past.”