For the first time in about twenty years, I don't feel out of place, age-wise, in a classroom. I'm about average, in fact.
Skill-wise...that's different. There are about a dozen of us in this screenwriting class - actually a workshop - and last night as we went around the circle introducing ourselves and describing our screenplays-in-progress, I realized I'm at the lower end of that scale. There are professional writers, actors, comedians...there's a retired couple who are working on their third screenplay...and it seemed like everyone else had a much clearer vision of their screenplay than I did.
I felt this exact way before, though, in my first creative writing class years ago. It was also a workshop, and it was clear in the very first class, and from listening to my classmates read their works each week that I was the least talented. It was a tough fact to acknowledge, because I was so driven to write. I had to remind myself that I joined the class to learn, to become the best writer that I could be, even if my best never measured up to the best of others. I stuck it out, got over the fear of reading my work out loud, learned how to detach myself from it so I could improve from the critiques, rather than get defensive and feel hurt. My first published essay came from that class.
So on the (long) drive home last night, I reminded myself that I was in this class to learn how to write a screenplay, not to compete with my classmates. If I keep an humble attitude and work hard, I'll learn a lot, and have at least a first draft of a completed screenplay at the end of it all...the perfect 50th birthday present to myself!