So now I’m forty. Woo.
Age is just a number, but it does pack a bit of a psychological whammy. When I turned twenty, I felt like I was finally leaving my childhood behind. When I turned thirty, I felt like I was now a “real” adult. (I was very depressed over that particular birthday.)
And now here’s forty, getting all up in my face. What a bitch.
Forty feels weird because it’s sort of the point at which people stop saying, “Oh, you’ve still got plenty of time to marry/have kids/buy a house/build a career.” There’s a new feeling that the clock is ticking, and that if you’re going to get anything accomplished, you might want to get a move on.
I’m not completely depressed, because I do have things I can point to that show I haven’t just been doing macramé and watching YouTube all this time. I quit smoking – for real, this time – so I’ve got a much better chance of future birthdays to piss and moan about. I’ve got a number of manuscripts that I am slowly preparing for publication, and I have copy-editing work to keep me out of trouble. I took the leap and left my law gig, and I’ve been swallowing my self-doubt and putting myself “out there.” I’ve gone to workshops and voiced my opinion on writing, even though I had a strong suspicion that my view would be in the minority. I’ve actually allowed other people to read my work and give their opinions. I’ve learned to listen to criticism without hiring a hit squad to ice the person who would dare to think that there was a gaping plot hole in my book. Even though there totally was.
No, I haven’t gone to print yet. No, I haven’t written the next big thing. No, they are not making a movie out of my book. And no, David Tennant hasn’t called me up and asked if we could be best friends. Dammit.
All the same, I do have things to feel good about. I’m not going to say I’m “truly blessed” because that phrase makes me itch. (“Truly” as opposed to what? “Kinda blessed”? Looked like “blessed,” but turned out to be a clever disguise for “royally fucked” at the last minute? Why do people feel the need to say “truly” when they’re expressing their blessedness? I don’t get it.)
I digress. It’s what I’m good at.
I have wonderful people in my life. One can only assume they’re there because they want to be. As little as I may understand why they feel that way, they appear to value me. Since I think they’re all pretty amazing, it’s a happy thing. Look at all these super-groovy people who think I’m the shit! (Go, me!) I have a wonderful family of friends and relations who like me for who I am and see good in me that I’d never have noticed myself (and frankly am still skeptical about). Once I stifle the irrational fear that I will disappoint them, I can only be grateful to know each of these unique and quirky people for making my life an interesting adventure. It wouldn’t be half as much fun without them.
I have two phenomenal children who will either become dictators of small countries or who will help make the world a better place. (It’s a fine line.) They like who they are, and they’re not afraid to be different, which makes me so proud I could spew glitter.
I have a husband who is almost too good to be true. He cooks, and he fixes computers – what more does a writer need in her life? Fortunately, he puts his foot in his mouth just enough to keep him from being too perfect. We’ve been through hell together, and I can’t think of another person I would have rather made that trip with. Maybe someone with an ice chest. And some beer.
And here I am at forty, carving out a new career for myself. I’m finally working toward the dream I have had since I was a little girl. I may succeed, or I may fail. I’m giving it a shot either way. All the writers out there who are struggling to get published, wrangling editors and query letters and Oxford commas with sincere passion and devotion, are in the same boat that I’m in. We want to succeed so badly, and every year that slips by makes it harder and harder to hang onto those dreams.
I guess all I want to say is – your life isn’t over until you stop living it. Dreams can still come true. Even after you’ve turned forty.