On Loss, and Other Things

Posted: April 4, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Two years ago, when I realized that my 30th birthday was approaching and I hadn’t yet done any of the things I wanted to do with my life (other than have children), I panicked just a little bit. I made the decision to do two things that were at the top of my list: go back to college, and finally publish a book. I’ve done really, really well at one of those things. The other…

I enjoy school. I’ve loved all of the classes I’ve taken over the last two years, even the ones I was required to take for my degree. I’m set to graduate in December with a nearly perfect GPA, job experience, a portfolio full of work and a pile of recommendation letters for absolutely anything I choose to do next. It’s been awesome, and I’m not for one minute sorry that I did it, even though an associate’s degree in creative writing isn’t exactly one of those “practical” degrees we’re all supposed to be out there getting. No regrets.

Well, one.

See, the point of the degree, when I enrolled, was to improve my writing skills and make connections in the local writing community. Done, and done! I was also supposed to simultaneously use those improved skills to keep churning out chapters for the novel I’ve been posting here, which I’ve…kind of done. With gaps. Increasingly large, painfully disappointing gaps. I have this one area in my life where I feel very accomplished and fantastic, and this other area where I feel like I’ve not only dropped the balls, they’ve shattered all over the floor and I have no idea how to pick them up and glue them back together. And the unfortunate thing is that the area where I’m succeeding was supposed to be the temporary fun part, and this other area was supposed to be the part I would build on for the future. Somehow, in the last two years, things got all twisted around and upside down, and I lost sight of what I set out to do.

A few weeks ago I had another one of those panic moments. I was deep into the process of looking at four-year schools to transfer to, with the intention of getting a BA in Creative Writing instead of the AA. And then maybe an MA. So I could teach writing! Because I do that, a bit, in my current job, and it’s really rewarding and fun and I love it dearly.

And then my husband said, “That’s wonderful! But, uh, when will you write?”

Oh. Oh yes, that.

The last two years have taught me that I can’t attend school full-time, properly parent my children, maintain my sanity and my marriage AND give my writing the time and attention it needs and deserves. I can’t. And if I were to pursue this teaching thing, that would be another four years, minimum, of being stretched incredibly thin and feeling like a failure somewhere and still not, you know, doing that thing I really really really want to do, which is finish and publish a fucking book.

I like teaching. But I like writing a whole hell of a lot more.

So that’s where I was, a few weeks ago, leaning toward just finishing the AA and getting back to the thing I really love to do. And then two things happened.

Someone I like and respect gave me some advice that pushed me a little further toward the writing side of things.

And someone I liked and respected, whom I’d known for almost a decade and considered a sort of private role model, passed away. And when she did, nearly everyone said, along with the grief and the heartache, “Oh no. She was so close to doing the thing she really wanted to do, and would have been so good at. What a terrible shame.”

I don’t want to talk about her too much; some stories are simply not mine to tell. My sadness is nothing compared to that felt by those who were closer friends, or her family. But she inspired me, when she started to pursue that dream. She inspired me when she kept trying to reach it, even when she was fighting the illness that would eventually end her life. She was an incredible, kind, compassionate person, and she would have been awesome at what she wanted to do. I will miss her.

So those two things happened, on top of some other things, and the end result was a massive reality check. I looked around at the path I was barreling down and realized, holy shit. This is so, so far from where I set out to be. And it’s not really, in the end, what I want. Maybe someday! But not right now.

The point is this: I have been working. I have an outline for the rest of this book – which I don’t think is cheating, serial-wise, but if it is we’ll just toss a flag on the field and keep running. (I don’t actually watch sports, so just go with that for me.) I’ll be starting the next chapter very soon. My goal is to have the whole thing done by the end of the summer. From there, I will figure out a timeline for the next book.

Yes. The next book. There’s at least one more in this universe. I have the outlines for two other, entirely unrelated manuscripts as well, that are more in the vein of mainstream paranormal romances. I think you’ll like them. I hope you will.

Hang tight with me, my loves. Shit is being straightened out. The path isn’t entirely clear for me yet, but I’m getting there. I forgot, for a little while, what it was I wanted to do. But I’ve remembered now.

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