Monday, April 29, 2024

An Opportunity For New Writers Of Speculative Fiction Who Are Of A Certain Age. Also, An Ageist Image Issue.

For twenty years, the Speculative Literature Foundation has been offering a $1,000 grant to writers who are at least 50 years old and are "just starting to work at a professional level." The application period is May 1 to May 31. An application form will appear at the Foundation's website on May 1. No previous publishing experience is required. 

Everything about this grant sounds wonderful. The Older Writers Grant page at the Foundation's website looks wonderful. The ad the Foundation released a few days This ad is getting a lot of attention on X, and not for the grant itself. What people are talking about is the bizarrely ageist and outdated image it uses.

What's the Problem?

First: The image plays into the stereotype that older people are:

  • cute
  • frail
  • able to do their own shopping, but only small amounts at a time
Second: The image has nothing to do with:
  • speculative literature
  • writing

In this ad, the text describes the grant precisely. The image, however, is totally unrelated to the text. At best, it adds nothing to it at all. At worst, the image distracts from the text because viewers find it offensive or not to be taken seriously.  

What Could They Have Done Differently?

Go to the Speculative Literature Foundation's Older Writers Grant page, and you will see a terrific image of a mature woman who looks healthy and fit and she is writing. Image of person writing...writing grant. If they had just used her on a professional photo type ad instead going for a cartoon and what looks like clipart, they would have had something fantastic to share.

They could also have looked for a photo of a group of older writers either from a writers' group (I see many of those on my Facebook page) or a writers' conference. They might have been able to find a group of writers that wasn't entirely white, too, which would have been a plus.

A Strange Turn Of Events

As I said earlier, the Speculative Literature Foundation has run this grant for two decades. This is the first I've heard of either the Foundation or the grant. So maybe there's no such thing as bad publicity?

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