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Priscilla Long: Creating at Any Age

Priscilla Long is a well-known Seattle-based writer of science, poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, and history, who, in anticipation of turning 80, decided to research the path of world-class later-in-life creatives.

What she discovered became a trove of inspiration that she shares in her book Dancing with the Muse in Old Age.

It’s a book about thriving in old age. While focusing on creative engagement, it is for everyone who is aging.

Priscilla shares her thoughts about art, creativity, engagement, writing, and aging from her life experience as well as her extensive research.


What we can learn by studying high-level creators who kept going later in life.

How different forms of art can feed and stimulate each other.

Why Priscilla wanted to learn from artists who kept going into their eighties and nineties.

How goals can bring us alive and give us a structure if we don’t get attached to the achievement.

“Any creative endeavor is very good for mental health and people should do it.” “It’s good to be consistent even if it’s a small time every day.”

Hear the interview:

More about Dancing with the Muse in Old Age:

Dancing with the Muse in Old Age is a book about thriving in old age. While focusing on creative engagement, it is for everyone who is aging. It reflects the new ways of looking at old age as a potentially dynamic, happy, and productive time. It reviews the science on aging that shows that negative views of aging can actually cause decline. The book opposes ageism and reports evidence that old age can be a time of great happiness. It challenges the widespread notion that the “peak ages of creativity” are 39 to 42. It challenges the notion that the burgeoning number of elders, the so-called “gray tsunami,” will drag down the economy (in fact, we are holding up the economy). A chapter titled “Brilliant Old Brains” provides lifestyle guidelines that do not guarantee but do influence your chances of growing into a deeply satisfying old age. The book explores the old-age time of life of more than one-hundred dynamic elders— mostly but not entirely creators in the arts, both well-known and little-known, both able-bodied and disabled. Their inspiring stories model for us all how to live in old age. The sections “Composing Our Lives: Old Age” at the end of each chapter will help readers consider and better plan for a satisfying old age.

More about our guest:

Priscilla Long is a Seattle-based writer of science, poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, and history, and a longtime independent teacher of writing. Her most recent book, Holy Magic (MoonPath Press), won the Sally Albiso Poetry Book Award. Her guidebook for creators of all kinds is Minding the Muse (Epicenter/Coffeetown). Her how-to-write guide is The Writer’s Portable Mentor (University of New Mexico Press. Among her awards is a National Magazine Award for a science-oriented feature. Her book of memoirist creative nonfiction is Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (University of Georgia Press). Christopher Hitchens called her first book, a history of coal mining titled Where the Sun Never Shines, “an intense and accomplished social history” (New York Newsday). She is the founding and consulting editor of, the free online encyclopedia of Washington state history.


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One Response

  1. Dear Priscilla.
    I so enjoyed this wonderful interview and love the positive attitude toward growing older with continued interest in creating. Thank you so much for your books. Also, thanks to always to Sally Fox and Engaging Presence.

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