[ Written on 10 NOVEMBER 2015 ]
The first few minutes upon getting into bed each night are reserved for my wife and I to have quick and often silly conversations. Most of the time they are comical and nothing really worth remembering except for the laughter and odd sounds our daughters hear coming from our room that I’m certain have been mistaken for other activities. But last night the conversation sparked a thought in my mind that I haven’t been able to shake. The actual subject being discussed was simply the fact that she no longer has to carry the on-call work phone for the first time in over a month. However, to her disappointment they did give her another work phone to carry with her so they can still reach her if needed (yes, she’s still somewhat “new” to her job at this point). I made the comment that I have been carrying a work related phone for 10 years now and that it’s not such a bad thing. I then went on to say that I hope I’ll be carrying one for the next . . . . and that’s when it hit me . . . . . 20 years.
My initial intent was to imply that I hope to be gainfully employed from now until retirement. Instead I found myself thinking about the fact that I have at least another 20 years of work before I reach the age at which I can begin thinking about retiring. My mind instantly began thinking about what it would be like to be doing what I am doing today for another 20 years. I do love my job and what I get to do every day for a living – so that idea didn’t bother me so much as realizing that what I have been telling myself all year long about my dream of ever having a writing career has been completely wrong.
This year I turned 40. I assumed that if I haven’t written anything or been published by now that it’s too late to switch gears and even make an attempt at it. My career path has been set and I should just coast to retirement – right? I mean . . . I’m FORTY for Christ’s sake! But then thinking about having 20 more years of work before retirement made me realize that I have TWENTY YEARS left in which I could actually write something and maybe . . . just maybe . . . even see it published someday.
That realization has brought with it basically three emotions. The first being embarrassment that I never realized it before and was just giving myself an excuse not to write. The next was excitement at the prospect that I still have a real shot and having a modest writing career because I do still have plenty of time left. The last was sheer fear and terror at the thought of not really having a project in mind and that the clock is ticking.
It seems every year at some point between January to December I reflect on writing and what it would be like if I could do it for a living. Ever since I was a kid back in elementary school I recall telling teachers I wanted to be a writer. I have always loved being in my own head and coming up with stories. My problem with writing seems to be lack of discipline . . . and finding the end or dramatic conclusion to a story. I’m GREAT at finding or creating the beginning of a story. I love creating characters, worlds, friends, enemies and the things that get the ideas flowing to start a project. But then once the cast is assembled and the world somewhat illuminated I struggle to find the end or know where I need to go in order to write the story. I remember J.K. Rowling said once in an interview that she knew from the moment she started writing the Harry Potter series where it would lead and how it would end.
What a bitch, right?
I mean, shit – give me some hope that I’m not alone with my dilemma and am not the first person to have this issue. I’d like to think there are at least a few successful writers out there who often times start a story with no ending and eventually find it. And not just any ending . . . a brilliant one. At this point I would settle for finding an ending to a story that was “decent” enough to get at least one writing project finished.
I know I’m creative. I know I’m happy when I put words to page. It’s therapeutic for me and though I have no idea why, but I sincerely do find pleasure in writing when I actually take the time to sit down and do it . . . like now. Maybe that’s why I never truly give writing a fully dedicated attempt. I mean really, what are the odds that something that I find to be fun and entertaining could be something that anyone else would care to read or find equally entertaining? In my experience the world just doesn’t work that way. Maybe at the end of the day all I really have is a lack of confidence and that I fear my writing simply isn’t good enough. Maybe I’m just afraid to try so that at the end of it all I don’t have to see if I would succeed or fail. It’s one thing to wonder if I can do it and believe for some reason that I can. But it’s another thing to actually try and be told that I am not good enough.
Then again, maybe not trying is even more of a failure.
Maybe I am just trying to find a way to psyche myself into writing more to get back into the habit again. To find a story and to write it. After all – I do find that I say I “keep coming back to writing” at some point every year. Maybe I should just quit walking away from it? Maybe that is what I should do and see where that takes me.
I kind of like that thought better than the one I had last night and this morning.