Sunday, March 4, 2018

Women of a Certain Age

"She was not old, nor young, nor at the years/Which certain people call a certain age,/Which yet the most uncertain age appears." (Byron 1817),
I'm not sure what the phrase 'a certain age' means or what age they are talking about. Something to do with the menopause maybe? A gendered observation anyway, seeing as it is never applied to men. Perhaps it is the age when women cut all their hair off, take to wearing loud saris and have an affair with someone thirty years their junior - ie. a midlife crisis if you were male.

Far out. I don't know. What I do know is that when I was asked to contribute an essay to the anthology Women of a Certain Age, I felt a chill in my ovaries and thought oh no, oh no it's begun oh no. No matter. As usual in these situations where I am asked to participate in an anthology, I used the speccies as a leaping off point and wrote what was really on my mind.

So my story 'Living at Clarkie's Camp' is about pig hunters naturally. Pig hunters! Fugitives! Monster dogs! Love affairs! Gateway guardians! Setting net for sea mullet!

Women of a Certain Age is out on Thursday this week. It's a great book with some brilliant pieces by writers such as Anne Aly, Krissie Kneen, Liz Byrski and Goldie Goldbloom. There is one of my favourites in there and you can read for yourself to find your own faves. From the brilliant Fremantle Press. Very proud, I am.


  1. Does the Fremantle Press distribute outside Australia?

    1. Hi Tom, I think they can sell the rights to overseas publishers - or else you could go to their website and get a single book shipped.

    2. Oh yes. I forgot about online shopping!

  2. Wow, fantastic Sarah. And your name up there on the cover with a very empowering photo of an older woman. Can I get this electronically?

    I remember an older (then me) woman once wistfully telling me that at a certain time in a woman's life she becomes 'invisible'. I can say that I have been in that place for some time now. Having been someone who 'got noticed' (by men predominantly) I realised one day that I just didn't seem to rate as worthy of attention any more. It was a shock to some extent but a relief in another. The challenging thing was to find a new social niche, which I'm not sure I've done successfully, but which I base on my intelligence and capabilities. I always had those qualities but they were overshadowed by my appearance. Now, as an older woman, an 'elder' in my community - I expect, even demand, respect on the basis of having lived longer than most and the subsequent wisdom that has afforded me. That's not to say all old folk are wise!! And I'm sure I'm not sometimes. My other response was to refuse to grow old gracefully and yes, these 2 responses to being a certain age may well be irreconcilable. But maybe that's the ultimate way to respond - keep 'em guessing.

    I have no doubt that you don't fit the mould Sarah and suspect that reaching a certain age for you may just be business as usual. I'd be interested to hear your views on 'invisibility' though.

  3. Hi Michelle, thanks for your nuanced comment. I’ll be back when on my computer with a longer reply x

  4. I should add that my male partner has similar issues re being written off now that he is of a 'certain age' so I think it's an issue that crosses gender boundaries. I guess at its most primal it's about reproduction and survival - older people become a liability unless the society they live in wants what they have to offer, or has enough compassion to support them as they grow older. Societies seem to be preferencing youth culture more and more, but when you consider Alexander the Great was 17 when he waged war - maybe it's always been like this.