Friday, March 1, 2013

Boomers, It’s Time for Us to Write

About 10 days ago, Claude Nougat posted a thought provoking article on GG&G titled, Baby Boomer Novels: A New Genre, the Next Phenomenon in Publishing. The gist of it was that 70 million boomers are already impacting the publishing industry and Hollywood. I don’t disagree.

Though some are trying to corral baby boomer books into aging stories – check out BOOMER LIT on Goodreads—I think boomers are going to write about a whole spectrum of things. And we should. Why? Because we need to provide perspective to the generations coming behind us and we are the only ones who can do that.

Boomers have lived through tumultuous, revolutionary times in science, art, music, religion, philosophy, sociological thought, and these have forever changed the fabric of our society for better or for worse. Our generation saw the U.S. go from the early jet engines to the moon in two decades. We saw the electron microscope begin to unravel the mystery of the cell nucleus. The prescriptive stuff of life, DNA, was discovered, blowing classical Darwinism out of the water. Of course, new theories were proposed and the debate rages on about where life came from and where it is going.

We saw a time in the ‘50s when the United States was united, when the entire country loved our president and collectively held our breath when we heard he’d had a heart attack. We again held our breath, along with the entire world, for those 13 days in October when we expected someone to push a button, shoving us over the nuclear precipice. And we rallied behind a young president who navigated us through those perilous waters. Then we mourned in shock on the day he was assassinated. The generations behind us need to understand that is something we must never allow to happen to a U.S. president again.

As young adults, boomers felt our society painfully unravel a bit, then reweave itself into a stronger fabric that extended the dream of freedom to those for which it had been largely denied.

We lived through a war where thousands of our young men and some of its women died and yet nothing was gained while much was lost. Some young whippersnappers try to revise that bit of history in order to have a unique topic for their Political Science master’s thesis or their dissertation. But no one really understands the Viet Nam War unless they watched their husband or fiancé ride off in a bus to report for induction and 6 months later felt the anguish of seeing a uniformed officer step to their doorstep and ring the doorbell. Men, you don’t fully understand unless you were the one that received orders for a tour of duty in SE Asia and then came home to be spat upon by your fellow countryman.

After a president resigned in disgrace, we heard, and almost believed, that America’s best days were behind us. Our economy was in shambles, as was our image around the globe. Then someone came along that told us a different story. We used our economy and ingenuity to run the USSR into bankruptcy, ending the cold war as we had known it since the early 1950s.

Our boomer generation has embraced, fought against, fought for, and sometimes stuck our heads in the sand to hide from, so many changes that it’s almost impossible to convey to our kids and grandkids what our world was like before we began the frantic and accelerating race toward our final destiny, the race in which we now find ourselves.

We have a lot to write about. We have a lot of perspective to provide about life in America and life on this planet. We know our bit of history. Let’s set the record straight on it. Come on boomers. It’s time to pull out our pencils, pens, keyboards, digital recorders, pads, pods and write. We have stories to tell. Let’s get on with it!

Harry Wegley
Writing as H. L. Wegley

H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics at Pacific Northwest Laboratories. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 46 years enjoy small-group ministry, their seven grandchildren, and where he pursues his love of writing.

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................................ Kevin Parsons said...

All right, HL! I'm gonna go write something. We Boomers have lived a lot, and have much more living to do before we pass on the torch. We can leave a legacy in writing.

Gail Kittleson said...

Hi Harry,

I'm thrilled to be the first to comment on your article--my husband is a ret. military chaplain, and he will resonate to your words. When he sees a Vietnam Vet, he always stops and thanks him.

And thank you for the encouragement to WRITE...I am, like crazy, and so agree w/what you said about all we have to offer younger people.

Again, thanks - looking forward to reading some of your work.

Gail Kittleson

gkittleson at

H L Wegley said...

Kevin, You're right! We've got a lot of living before we pass the baton. They say 70 is the new 30. I'm only 28. :)

Gail, It's hard to express how much it meant to me go attend a church service while far away from home, away from my young wife, while facing an unknown and threatening future, to be able to hear a message of encouragement from the word from a chaplain. I pray that the changes in the military don't drive the good men away from this vital ministry.

Wayne Zurl said...

Well written. Makes me glad to be an old bugger. And have a series protagonist who's as old as me. I'm going downstairs and work on that next story.

H L Wegley said...

Wayne, My current WIP is going the other direction. My youngest protag ever. At 20 she's already deep into her PhD program. This story is going to be a blast to write ... if the mind of a 20-year-old, female genius can be captured with a number 2 lead pencil.

Claude Nougat said...

H.L., that was beautifully said! Yes our generation reached peaks and nadirs of untold depths and the Vietnam War left a decisive mark on American history...I am convinced that is at the heart of Boomer lit: the capacity that experience gives, and what an experience! The boomer generation was the most rebellious, the one that rocked the system (not always for the better - but changed it did, nothing was the same again...)

That's why boomer lit pulls together authors of exceptional experience and talent. I'm convinced that we will see a wave of boomer literature that will be characterized by truly quality reads...

And if a boomer author like you tries his hand at writing about a young woman in her twenties who's a genius to boot, well...I think that only a boomer author could accomplish that feat of stepping into the mind of someone so utterly different!

H L Wegley said...

Claude, About the young woman, I've got an in with her. As a 15-year-old, she was a minor heroine in the 2 previous books in this series. She has a heart for the things most of us Boomers care about. Turning her loose on center stage is going to be fun.

Claude Nougat said...

Sounds great, HL, I'm looking forward to reading it! It's funny that you're into writing about a 20 year old who's a genius and a woman - I did the same thing in reverse: I started out writing and publishing (it's available on Amazon) The Phoenix Heritage, a New Adult series, 3 books so far about a young man who's a computer/IT genius! He goes looking for his family roots in Sicily and finds much more than he ever bargained for...ending up fighting the Sicilian mafia and violent Russian hackers, LOL!