“At first sight experience seems to bury us under a flood of external objects, pressing upon us with a sharp and importunate reality, calling us out of ourselves in a thousand forms of action.” ~Walter Pater
There is a moment in every woman’s life, where she’ll realize that she isn’t the young woman that she once was. There is a face that she’ll always expect when she looks in the mirror, regardless of what is there in reality. This might hold true for men as well, but since I’m not a man, I can’t very well assume. That moment, for me, came this past saturday. I was dressed up in a fur bikini for a photo shoot, traipsing around Flat Rock park on crutches, when it hit me: I’m too old to be doing this. It might have been the shot where I was told to lie down on the rocks that did it. Whatever it was, I suddenly felt less like a contestant on America’s Next Top Model and more like Janice Dickinson: Waaaaay past my prime.
Per usual, this got me thinking about how I’ve changed as an author, how experience and time affect my abilities and my confidence. We reach a stage where we question everything about ourselves…and this stage often brings fear with it, which in turn erects a writers’ block. We see black balloons and feel like the luster of our youth is forever behind us. We’re sort of bitter, sort of experienced, sort of terrified. We’re bombarded with everything from everywhere—blogs, news articles, commentary, societal pressure, internal pressure…a thousand voices all at once.
That’s when we’ve got to step back, take a breath, and regroup. We have to shut our eyes and our ears to everything going on around us and listen to the writing—to that ever present being inside of us that will still be able to channel a 20 year old even when we’re 97 because it’s what the story has asked of us. That being, our voice is immune to the effects of time. I don’t mean that it doesn’t change as we mark the years off of our proverbial calendar. But, it changes like we do…we’re still us. I will always be me, no matter what I go through…I will never be anyone else. No matter how hard I try…
Your voice will always be yours and yours alone.
I came home and washed the make-up off, sat on my couch and had a good laugh at myself. I have been thinking a lot about age lately, and family and what it all means in the grand scheme of things. Everyone likes to ask me when I’m going to have children, when I’m going to “start a family.” I have a family and we’re complete just as we are. I’m not saying that I’ll never raise children—it’s in the cards, I’m sure. But until that moment comes, we’re still a family. Nothing is missing. Our writing is no different. If you’re unpublished, the question is always, when are you going to get published? Once you’ve accomplished that, the next question is, when are you going to make a movie? As if writers whose books are sold as movie rights actually make the movies. Still, you get the drift. Aging, life, writing, it’s all the same. Everything is in stages and the world will forever be on your case about what you’re doing next and how. You’ve got to ignore this and learn to listen to yourself again. Remember that post from awhile back, Evergreen? This is what I was talking about. No matter where you are in the process, nothing is missing. It’s the being—the living–that matters, not your surroundings. You are a writer. Period. Nothing else about your ‘career’ matters at the end of the day. Not fame. Not fortune. Not accomplishments. You don’t need any of the things that society has told you that you need in order to “succeed” as an author.
Live…write…because what you do need, what we all need, is truly limited: time. And there will never be enough to say it all, so say what you can…pen the worlds that you can…and pray you’ve time enough to get onto paper all the important bits. At the end of the day, fame, fortune and accomplishments won’t have gained you one more second to write. Isn’t that why we’re doing this to begin with? Because we love it? Yes. It is. And our living is the proof of it.
So live already…