Thanks to all who responded to my fishing expedition re the middle-aged material (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ve included the original email below). All the different responses were fascinating and as a result the book will now be covering a range of issues, and not just focusing on ’invisibility’. I’m actually getting rather excited about the whole project! To make things even better, my publishers have come aboard and so The Invisible Women, and other remarkable phenomena of middle-age should be coming into tangible existence towards the end of next year.
So - onto the next phase, which involves a survey for all those who are somewhat middle-aged (and female!), which I promise shouldn’t take more than five minutes and isn’t too intrusive. And please send the link to your friends - the more the merrier!
I’ve also started a blog at http://themiddle-agedspread.blogspot.com, which will hopefully become an ongoing conversation about different aspects of middle-age for women. From the intangible, like invisibility or mid-life-crises or even the current cougar fad, to the tangible, like weight gain and chin hairs (WTF?) and kids (can’t get more tangible than those). And I want as much feedback and opinion and discussion as possible - whether you agree with me or not. So please do come and join in!
Cheers, Ilsa Evans
PS: Oh, and a huge thanks to Chantel, who has started the Ilsa Evans Appreciation Society on Facebook - how incredibly flattering! And believe me, I don’t get a huge amount of appreciation around here (except from the dog), so I’ll take what I can get!
THE ORIGINAL EMAIL (for those who missed out/sent in March 2010)
Having just finished the manuscript for sticks & stones (the sequel to Broken), I am about to embark on a new project and this time I’m going to try my hand at something completely different. It will be a non-fiction exploration of middle-age for women (yes, really!) and is tentatively titled The Invisible Woman, and other remarkable phenomenon of middle-age. As the writer Susan Reimer said: “[when] women age we begin to fade from view, moving from vibrant to translucent to invisible." My book will be about women’s experiences of that transition and will use humour to soften what, for many, is a very complex and confronting time of their lives. I think that humour is a great tool for an issue like this because, after all, it’s one that middle-aged women use themselves to great effect!
Now if you have no idea what I’m talking about then you are probably one of the following: (a) a male, (b) under forty, or (c) an aberration (!). In which case read no further. But if you do have an inkling then I’d love to hear from you. I’m after stories, anecdotes, experiences - good and bad. Particularly about that moment when someone first realises that at some stage they have become invisible. Reactions, responses, all that sort of thing. The fallout from a midlife crisis would be particularly good (for me anyway!). Ways to cope moving forward - or things to avoid at all costs! The good, the bad, the ugly of middle-age. Even if you decided it was all in the mind or that you’ve conquered it with confidence (or plastic surgery?) or whatever.
There is strong evidence that the current generation embracing (or tolerating) middle age are doing so in a very different manner from their mothers before them. But it’s still often a time for confusion. A time to mourn the loss of youth (which really does seem wasted on the young!). A time where women become part of the ‘sandwich’ generation, with aging parents on one side and adult children on the other, who are themselves likely to be dependant in some way. A time for changes in sexuality, and body shape, together with a whole range of remarkable and unexpected quirks (such as that damn extraneous body hair!). And a time to face up to the value we as a society put on middle-age (as opposed to youth). And also a time where women take stock, looking back to see what they have achieved, or not, and then trying to look forward to see what lies ahead. This book will not be about menopause per se, nor will it be a self-help or psycho-babble motivational guide. Instead it will feature real women and their voices as they meander through middle-age, and the different ways in which they come to terms - or not - with this second half of their lives. It will be quirky and informative, sympathetic and humorous, reassuring and inspirational. Just like middle-aged women themselves.
I’ll be putting together a short questionnaire in a month or so and will be using the feedback from this newsletter to inform the content there - so everything is welcome! If you have a story about middle age, or invisibility, or even just a response to this book proposal, then I’d love to hear from you. And feel free to circulate this newsletter amongst your own networks if you think it might strike a chord. I’ll be seeking formal permission before anything is used for the actual book so there’ll be no surprises. Feel free to use an alias if preferred - just send me stuff. The more the better!
Cheers, Ilsa Evans