Tuesday, January 8, 2013
A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to My Birthday
I’m one of those people that gets ridiculously introspective when it comes to birthdays, particularly since mine is at the beginning of the year (today, in fact), and particularly when its second numeral is a zero or a five.
For reference purposes, we’ll call this my 35th birthday, even though regular readers of this space know I have a grandson. Not that there aren’t 35-year-olds with grandkids and not that I haven’t spent years staying out of the sun while not smoking cigarettes in order to score that Photoshop-flawless complexion, but, in my case, 35 is a teensy exaggeration.
Besides, I tore up the AARP application, so who’s gonna say otherwise?
When I was a little girl, I wrote poetry. Then angsty teen sci-fi short stories. I know, right? Who knew that’d end up being a real genre twenty years later? I missed that boat big time.
I explored other avenues of fiction, and then realized I sucked at it and started writing nonfiction. In my twenties, I started working as a freelance opinion columnist for a newspaper. (Not the newspaper I write for now, which has put up with me for almost fifteen years.) When my kids were born, I supplemented article income with risqué greeting cards and offensive button slogans, which I hid from them until they were in high school.
“Ew mom, you’re gross.”
Yep, gross like a $100 bill every time I sell one of these suckahs.
Anyway, blah blah. Regular readers of this space know my history already.
All through my career, I’ve had the unfortunate habit of assigning math to my goals. And, like fiction, I suck at math.
Note: I apparently don’t suck too much at fiction anymore, having placed in a couple of big contests, and, oh, yeah, selling two novels. I guess I should say I suck at literary fiction. Literary fiction I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot (insert risqué euphemism for pole here, then sell it as a button slogan).
So, math. That’s what we were talking about it.
Dang, do I hate me some math. I have to do it for one of my regular freelance gigs. I write up a couple of weekly city crime blotters for my newspaper and I have to go through coded sheets that list the arrestees’ birthdates. Problem is we don’t run birthdates (or names, for those of you who are worried); we run ages. Which means I have to take a birthdate and figure out how old the offender is. Worst part of the job, other than when angry people come into the police station and everyone who works there is safely behind glass, except me, typing frantically on my laptop in the lobby, wondering if I can make myself into a tiny ball and roll under the desk. Who says writing isn't glamorous?
Ugh, sorry. We were talking about math.
In my case, I keep setting these math-related goals for myself: published author by 15, 20, 25, 30, 35…
Yeah, it did happen fairly early on and I know I should be grateful that I’m a working writer in an industry that can be terribly unkind, but this five-zero age introspection rule is making me crazy. I always want to sell more and I want to do it now and not when another *&$!! five years goes by.
All I can do is keep working and hope that, when I do make the big leagues—or, rather, bigger leagues—I stop using my age as a point of reference.