I turned 30 today.
According to magazines, most romantic comedies and even a few of my good friends, I should feel panicked. Or at the very least anxious. I’m single, not established in my career, and likely to remain this way in both arenas for at least another year.
Surprisingly (insert eye roll here) I feel fine.
When I was younger, I actually wrote an open letter to myself (yes, I was a weirdo even when I was 11) that stated if I wasn’t published by the time I was 30, I was going to give it up and learn to do something constructive with my time.
Oh the things Maturity will teach you.
My younger self had no idea of knowing I would get caught in a write Chapter 1 – edit until it’s perfect then write Chatper 2 – oh wait, Chapter 1 still isn’t perfect though it’s been rewritten 17 times but I can’t move forward – repeat cycle of hell until I was ready to snatch myself bald.
At the age of 12. When I knew no other writers. And had to sneak writing time in between school work, chores, and the awkward socializing that was middle school. I got discouraged and stopped for several years.
In high school, I started writing again. Stories bigger than my body and my heart. (And my clevage, which for some reason was threatening to attack Godzilla style — or at least that’s the way it looks in all my photos.) And then I got the Kiss of Death Writing Advice: Write What You Know.
Huh. 16, in a relatively small town in Nowhere, Mid-America. I knew about GPA’s, pre-college exams, which girls were skanks, which boys were trouble and my place in the all-important High School Hierarchy. I also knew that I’d rather perform the National Anthem naked in front of UN with sparklers shielding my goodies before writing about any of that.
Fiction tabled until college creative writing course….in which I creatively found ways to do my projects mere hours before they were due and still swing A’s. This did very little in terms of giving me direction. Also, it didn’t help that with the exception of the TA and the Prof, everyone was pretty much scared to have at my stories.
I remember actually cajoling people, “Come on, you know something in there sucked, right? Right?!” and being met with vacant stares. I was about ready to start bribing for criticism, but thank goodness the class was over by then.
Fast forward to earlier this year. I have at least a dozen partially started stories and 5 abandoned NaNoWriMo projects, a handful of poems and story idea notebooks filled with scenes, dialogue and character descriptions. And nothing finished.
As I barrelled into 30 my goal wasn’t on publishing — because it can only be called a goal if you work toward it and clearly, I haven’t been– But more on finishing. Writing is one of the more constructive things I can do with my life — I won’t say it’s the most constructive because rescuing flood victims or joining the Peace Corp and vaccinating people would probably be more constructive, but we both know that I don’t like getting dirty….or wet….or muddy….and I hate bugs….and I’m off on a tangent…..
…….and then back! And besides being constructive, it’s also addictive. I’ve tried to stop writing, and I can ususally manage it for a couple of months, until my brain gets full of ideas and I start to have funky (but not in a good way) dreams that quickly segue into whacked out (definitely not in a good way) nightmares. And then I’m writing again.
So why fight it? Why not feed it and see what happens? My birthday present to myself this year is a Writing Goal: 300,000 words during my 30th year.
2,611 words down. 297,389 to go!