Posted by: Corri van de Stege | April 5, 2009

The Sunday Salon – picking up on the ‘write stuff’

tssbadge4The weather’s perking up a bit so it’s possible to sit outside albeit with a coat on and bearable only when sheltering behind the greenhouse, out of the wind and in the sun.  I am focusing on the newspapers today and although there still is not much good news on the global front, there are many other interesting and inspiring things going on.

Everyone is waiting for the release of ‘State of Play’, it seems.  This is the film with Russell Crowe and Helen Mirren that is taken from the British TV miniseries with the same name, only the story has been completely changed.  This is because it was impossible to stick to the original because you could not condense a 6-hour story into a two-hour one for the film.  The film is about the closure of newspapers, about ‘write stuff’, a kind of thriller with ‘The heart of sharp-suited bloggery and the internet to real, grubby journalism….at the heart of the drama’ (Bryan Appleyard in the Cover Story ‘The Genuine Article’, Sunday Times Culture Section, 5 April 2009).  In other words it’s about our role, yes yours and mine, however minor, in this blurring world of who writes about what.   So, one for the list to watch out for (release: 24 April 09).

The Observer explains how the film almost did not happen as Bradd Pitt pulled out and Russell Crowe stepped in at the very last minute.

If you are a lover of short stories then the book to look out for is Chimamanda Nigozi Adichie’s new collection  ‘The Thing Around your Neck’.  The reviews are excellent and this interview by William Skedelsky in the Observer is a great read.  I for one love her previous two books and this one will definitely be added to my shot stories collections.

The Sunday Telegraph gives us all hope as far as writing careers are concerned.  Now that I am reconfirmed in my job, and I am hugely relieved, my writing ambitions will remain on the backburner until I have that focused amount of time to edit and re-write what I’ve got.  Meanwhile I’ll jot down an odd thing here and there, keeping in mind that as far as writing is concerned there are some really late starters (or finishers, whatever way you look at it!):

Harriet Doerr’s ‘Stones for Ibarra’ was published when she was 74.

Laura Ingalls Wider’s ‘Little House in the Big Woods’ was published when she was 65.

Helen Hoover Santmyer was 88 when her first best seller ‘And Ladies of the Club’ was published.  Unfortunately I cannot find a link for this book.

Well, we can add some more to this list, because there is of course also Diana Athill who, at the age of 90 or so, won the Costa Biography Award 2009 for ‘Somewhere towards the end’.  The book is amongst the various books to be read, and currently being read, on my table:


Perhaps you know of some more late bloomers in the ‘write stuff’? 


  1. The longer you wait to write, the deeper and richer your writing. Of course, you always risk death before publication….

  2. I am going to pick up that book by Adichie! As you know I am a huge fan of hers!

    Sunday Salon

    TSS: The Red Tent

  3. Mary Wesley was first published when she was 71 and went on to have 10 bestsellers and sell 3 million copies in her writing career which lasted until her 90’s, so there is hope for us all yet.

  4. I bought the BBC Miniseries, State of Play and Scott and I really enjoyed it. Bill Nighy is one of my favorite actors and even though he didn’t have a huge role in the miniseries, I’m disappointed that he won’t be in the feature film.

    I love hearing about late bloomer authors, as you can well imagine, so thanks for sharing.

  5. Grace Paley was 50, I believe, when she started writing. Penelope Fitzgerald started writing at 59. Alice Munro was 40, so she was no wunderkind either. 🙂

  6. I’ll have to get the Adichie book, as I loved her earlier two and I’m hoping to see her at the Sydney Writer’s Festival in May.

    I really enjoyed the series of State of Play, it will be interesting to see what the film’s like. At least the actors are good.

  7. State of Play sounds like a fabulous series – and very topical. Our two daily newspapers have suspended their home delivery in favor of “e-ditions”, which they charge for delivering to your inbox each day.

    Personally, I still love to feel newprint in my hands, but I know I’m getting a bit dinosaurish!

    Which brings me to your next topic…the “aging” writer. It definitely heartens me to hear about women publishing late in life. There is hope for me yet!

  8. debnance – yes, exactly the kind of thing I’m worried about 🙂
    gautami: yes, many of us are!
    vivienne: I guess there’s hope for me as well…
    priscilla: I also loved State of Play and will definitely go and see the film. You just keep writing and one of these days you’ll surprise all of us!
    Priscilla: so glad there are so many other role models to go by!
    A devoted reader: Oh you’ll actually be able to listen to her and speak to her! I do envy you.. my part of the world’s too sleepy. Let us know about it
    Becca: I like the physical touch of books and newspapers, the turning of pages, being able to just go back to it, and the simple fact that you can tear up newspapers, keeping the bits you just might want to have somewhere on a pile of papers… I’m also a fan of the touchy feeling kind of thing. And by the way, I’m absolutely convinced that you will appear in print, sooner, rather than later! Just keep writing. I’m also pinning my hope on these other role models!

  9. Brookner and Mahfouz definitely catch my eye. Half of a Yellow Sun is also on my radar.

  10. I look forward to the movie and would not have noticed otherwise. Thanks for that!
    As for our writing going on the backburner, that’s ok. We’re taking good notes along the way, right? I love your book recommendations and since we’re on holiday, I’m thinking of sneaking off to the bookstore while HM naps…!!! I can’t help it! Getting books is a celebration for me, just as eating is for some and clothes shopping is for others.
    OK, or maybe I”ll just go read something in my TBR stack?!!!

  11. Matthew – good!
    Oh – yep, definitely taking good notes and do sneek off to that bookshop. I’m going tomorrow methinks!

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