Writings from the Dark

Today in Mommy-Land

Took a little jaunt out and about to get kitty litter and grab some delicious Chipotle’s with the Little Man and the hubby, which was super nice. The hubby had an extra day off, so we had a nice, no-snow, low-key day. Some Hoarders was watched. The Little Man has forsaken hand-held walking (thank goodness–our backs couldn’t take much more) in exchange for much faster crawling. I get much less done now than before, if only because he now can’t be set anywhere without zipping off to the nearest forbidden spot (aka dog dishes, bathroom, grubby vent in corner, cords of any kind, also: cat!). *Phew!* He keeps us on our toes.

Three more weeks of last (hopefully) long-distance rotation! We put in our list of match preferences, too, so fingers crossed! March 16th-20th is Match Week, and after that, we’ll know where we’ll be heading for the next four years. Four years! That’ll be the longest chunk of time we’ve lived anywhere since being married. It’s exciting, but also a bit terrifying to finally be wrapping up the med school section of our lives.

Today/This Weekend in Writer-Land

Lately, though I couldn’t say precisely when it started, I’ve felt myself changing as a writer. First, it was really putting editing as my focus and realizing how much I don’t yet know about composing fictional narratives. Then there was this funny, uncomfortable feeling in the gut which I’ve come to recognize over my few decades on this planet as a precursor or sign of a major mental paradigm shift. I don’t experience many of these, but when I do, it usually changes me for the better and makes me more of the kind of person I want to ultimately be.

This one was triggered by two things: 1) starting a new (to me) Murakami book and 2) feeling 30 slipping up on me from the shadows.

For the first, the sheer delight I experience while reading it made me recognize the sharp comparison between what I feel like I *should* be reading, and what I actually–unabashedly–enjoy reading. Which has made me ask the question, if I don’t really like reading what I’ve felt I need to read to be informed of the genre I work in, am I writing in the right genre, or am I artificially constricting my focus to fit some construct I built in high school and college of the kind of writer I *should* be, instead of allowing myself the freedom to try other things I might actually like more and be better at?

The second, although it’s still some months off, has made me recognize that I’m not going to be on any of those “Hot Up-and-Coming Authors Under 30” lists you see from time to time. I realize this sounds like a silly thing to have hoped for, but there’s a big component of modern culture that idolizes the young genius, the instant success, the wise-beyond-years wonder-kid. I had never realized how deeply this had seeped into my psyche, even as I consciously espoused hard work, putting in one’s time, and how any art form worth its salt takes years of hard work to master, if one can master an art form at all. Intellectually, I knew this; in my soul, though? I still secretly felt that maybe, maybe if I was really lucky and the right breaks came along at just the right time, I *would* be one of those early-life successes. Don’t get me wrong: I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished thus far in my writing career (such as it is). I’ve made some great friends, I’ve actually seen some of my work published, and even have a story in a book right next to Neil Gaiman (which is pretty awesome). I’ve been involved in a great sf/f/h magazine which I love to death and have found a little bit of a calling formatting print books. Who knew? And it’s ridiculous how much I’ve grown as a writer in the past ten years,  when I look back at where I started, having no idea how to write a short story in under 15k words.

BUT, what this looming birthday makes me think about is all the career dream-goals I’d hoped for myself to hit before 30. Most of these haven’t happened, and with a better understanding of the industry as a whole, I’d be naive to think some of those things may *ever* happen. I’m not entitled to success in this field–no one is. And not everyone who works hard and wants it really, really bad will be. Which has brought up this second question: if I never publish another thing ever again (which I’m not anticipating, but hypothetically), what kinds of things do I want to spend my life writing? I’m going to write, regardless–I’m definitely in the compulsion group of writers–but what would I enjoy writing so much that even if none of it saw the light outside my desk trunk, I wouldn’t feel that time was wasted? What’s worth writing in the dark?

I’m not sure I have any answers to those questions yet, but I feel like this is the right path to walk down, wherever it leads, and I’ve got a rough inkling of where it’ll go–just as I always have when these paradigm shifts happen. I will say this: I’m excited, and for the first time in a long while, I feel free.

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