At 4:57 this morning (3:57 Nashville time), I turned 52. I’m actually holding off on the celebration until this weekend, but I’ve been touched by the best wishes I’ve received from hundreds of people, in person or via social media.
Given that I don’t really expect to make it to the century mark, I’m frequently aware that I’m well past my halfway point. Indeed, if statistics hold, I’m probably about two thirds of the way toward my eventual destination, and honestly, my poor lifestyle choices and family history suggest I may be farther along than that. But typically, no one knows when things are going to wrap up until that point is very close, so maybe I’ve got a while.
In the meantime, I occasionally find myself wondering a little bit about the growing role that writing seems to be taking in my life. I occasionally say that I’ve been writing before I could write — there are tapes of a three-year-old me reciting odd poems and stories to my dad, and I remember the first four lines of a Christmas poem I wrote in second grade:
Oh how I love thee, Christmas night,
When trees are all a-glisten.
On Christmas night, Santa Claus comes —
If only you could listen!
(I’m guessing the vanishing of the rest of the poem was not a loss to the world of literature.)
And I took loads of creative writing workshops — 18 hours or so — during my M.A. years, which is when I also started on Broken Glass Waltzes. And then I did my years in the magazine biz, churning out copy sufficient to keep the ad pages separated in the business-to-business magazines my employer published. But I find I think of myself more as a writer now then I did in those years, even though my backlist remains . . . sparse.
Because I’m the person I am, I’m actually surprised that I don’t look back on the years when I wasn’t writing creatively as a waste — I have a black belt in self-accusation, along with medals in guilt and self-doubt. But I find that instead, I’m just pleasantly surprised that I seem to have gone back to something I once thought I might do well, and even more surprised to find that other folks seem to think it’s pretty neat, too. And I’m starting, I think, to understand a little about the circumstances under which I create. (It frequently seems to involve agreeing to write something and then doing it in order not to disappoint whoever commissioned the story. That guilt thing again.)
I don’t know how many more stories I’ll write, but I’m grateful for the ones I’ve written, and even for the ones I haven’t finished. And I guess that’s true of my own story as well. Maybe there’s some tranquility in that. I’d like to think I’m due for some of that.