Since its humble beginnings Starts at 60 has set about giving over-60s a voice in the community, which is how we came to publish blogs on our website. These blogs are personal stories and tales of real-life events written by 60-something members of the Starts at 60 audience. Initially we’d publish these contributions when they were received, a bit like ‘Letters to the Editor’ that featured in newspapers, but over the past six years, our community contributions have grown to become a major part of our publishing identity.
What started with a handful of writers is now a blogging group of more than 400 members. While it takes a lot of effort for all of our wonderful bloggers to put their fingers to keyboards for the entertainment of the community, and also effort at Starts at 60 HQ to coordinate those pieces, edit and publish them on our website and social media channels, some people make a really special effort, so this week I wanted to put the spotlight on the dedication of one of our bloggers, Brian Lee.
Brian has been writing blogs for Starts at 60 since we started. He is a retired graphic designer who designed for large international companies in England, New Zealand and Australia, then he was his own boss for almost 20 years, creating stationery, advertising and marketing material, illustrations and copywriting services. So it makes sense that since retiring, Brian continued his writing.
“I must have written nearly 400 blogs in the last six years,” Brian says. (Editor’s Note: Nearly 450 at the time of publishing!) “The stories are about things that have caught my interest and there are stories I’ve come up with based on those interests that I write just to see the sort of response I get from readers, many of whom have become friends over the years.”
At 84, Brian’s working life is some years behind him. He says it could have so easily have been spent sitting in front of the television watching “all those wonderful ‘reality’ shows” that he and his wife, Jacqui, loathe so much. “But I had the good fortune of stumbling across Starts at 60 and I’ve never looked back.”
In fact, when Brian first contacted me with his story ideas, Starts at 60 was in its infancy. I wanted to bring together the growing number of people who were entering their 60s and with only a small team helping me get things moving, it made sense to turn to the community for interesting, entertaining stories to publish online. Brian embraced the idea of being able to share his stories, which have included reflections of his childhood, experiencing World War II, emigrating to Australia with his new bride, retirement and his dreams for the future.
“I was delighted that someone thought my words were worth printing,” Brian says. “The very fact that they were encouraged me to try again and before long I was turning out copy at a rate of knots. It was as though one idea fed the next one, the stories I wrote about the war, for example, led me to consider what life was like in the years after the war, and then I started reminiscing about all the great developments made in science, engineering and all sorts of other areas.”
Part of the enjoyment Brian gets from writing for Starts at 60 is the opportunity to engage with other community members, those who read his blogs and share their opinions or feelings.
“I couldn’t believe there were people who liked what I was writing and took the time to leave a comment on my blog. The vast majority of the comments are complimentary or congratulatory, but even when someone takes a more critical approach I can appreciate their different point of view. It’s through debate and discussion that we learn and expand our own knowledge,” Brian says.
“Something I really appreciate is that Starts at 60 recognised something many other media organisations didn’t [and still don’t] … We 60-somethings are becoming a larger portion of the human race.”
We publish two, sometimes more, blogs a day, 365 days a year. The topics are as diverse as the community of bloggers who write them, with stories about health and wellbeing, money and finance, downsizing and selling the family home, grandparenting, marriage and relationships, sex, nostalgia, travel and opinion pieces about current affairs all featuring.
Some of our bloggers are as prolific as Brian, while others choose to write one or two blogs a year. The only thing we want to encourage at Starts at 60 is that you write! So, if you’d like to join the growing number of over-60s community bloggers at Starts at 60, please get in touch with our community editor, Calista Bruschi.