Yesterday was my birthday. For me, after the excitement of birthdays in the dorm at college (where us forensic science students could write whole lab reports on how to properly dilute everclear), these recent birthdays have been uneventful. Work, home, cheers with the spouse, sleep.
But I’ve been thinking lately about what I had meant to do, writing-wise, before I turned thirty.
Firstly, I wanted to be published, which I think is the goal of a lot of young writers. Secondly, I wanted to see my name on bookshelves, have a fanbase that wrote excellent (and not) fanfiction of their OTPs, and have people excited for my next novel. I wanted K. A. Wyles to be known (well, the pen name came later).
But time flies when you’re getting a “proper” education. So I’m going to do some reminiscing because I feel old. Come back (to the future) with me:
My friend and I wrote together throughout high school. We met in eighth grade, when I moved to the school district, and became close in French class because I happened to have lived near her cousin. From that day on, we would scribble down stories between (and during) classes, usually in a roleplaying style, in marble notebooks that I still have on my bookshelves. We would go home, get on our respective computers, and write until it was far too early in the morning. Writing was everything.
(Hell, we still have ongoing stories that are far more like co-writing than something to while away the time.)
For her undergraduate, she decided to get a BFA in Creative Writing. I got mine in Forensic Science, because I had always been more science-brained, despite my awards in English and Literature throughout high school. Her goal to be published as soon as she graduated started. And I think that’s when I joined in on the dream. I had been writing short stories on my own since I was seven so I was no stranger to writing in my spare time. If she could do it, I could too. I may not have had the degree, but I had the passion.
I figured short stories were are hard sell, so why not try for a novel? My first NaNoWriMo was in 2006, and I had won. Never finished the novel. Next one? Also unfinished. It wasn’t until 2008, and when I was 21, that I figured out that whole “Finish What You Start” thing. In between, I joined smaller writing months. I joined WriYe and eventually helped moderate it. I joined a very popular LiveJournal prompt community, and then disappeared.
That’s my MO. Love something so much that it becomes the only thing… Then drop it and seclude myself because my brain is my biggest enemy.
And that seclusion is why I think I am unpublished and it bothers me.
Thirty, for some reason, is that spooky number in age where I think we all believe we should be more successful than we are. Chances are, our parents had gone a little further at 30 than we have, but there are numerous reasons for that both societal and cultural. But rationally? Most of us can’t get over that, I think.
I am a victim of my own mind. I look at my age and go, “Wow, Paolini was published at half of my age!” Does that really matter? No. This isn’t a competition. But no one has told my brain that. So the spiral of “What Have I Done With My Life?(tm)” begins. And that is why I disappear. I am unworthy. Or unsuccessful. Or just something so self-defeating that I should probably talk to someone about it.
But this year, on my 32nd birthday, I found myself editing a novel. A novel I wrote that I love. And I have a plan to finally pursue my dream by being serious about it. Write, edit, revise, query. That’s the goal. And, as WriYe can tell you, I’m dragging people with me. That’s why #Pub2020 was born – to force myself to keep moving forward.
So maybe in my next thirty(-two) years, I’ll have a series of novels published. I will see my name on the spines of novels in bookstores. I might have a fanbase (or a group of haters, bring it) that want to write fanfiction. I may even become a bestseller.
But I can’t do that if I don’t start now.
(My best friend? She published one short story before getting her MLIS and now doesn’t write at all, despite wanting to all the time. Life is a beast.)