In any case, one of the drawbacks to riding my bike is that my little area of the world is quite hilly. I suppose if I was training for the Tour de France, this would be a good thing. But since I just ride for exercise and leisure, it kind of sucks to have very few flat areas where you can just sit back and ride.
Because of this, a significant portion of my bike rides take place in a church parking lot that's just up the road from my neighborhood. I ride up there and then spend a good chunk of the hour or so that I'm on my bike just riding in figure-eights around this nice, flat parking lot. It provides a nice area for me to ride and get a decent workout, even though it's kind of boring.
In any case, when I was riding my figure-eights today, I got to thinking about my stalled-out writing career, and the fact that I haven't finished a piece of fiction in about eight years, and haven't finished, or even done significant work on, a novel in eleven years. I think being 39, and on the verge of the big Four-Oh, is weighing on me, because I've been thinking a lot about this lately. I basically "gave up" long fiction when I turned 30, although it was only supposed to be temporary, so I could go back to school and get established in a good job before returning to novel writing later.
I graduated in December of 2009 and got a job in 2010, but the novel writing has pretty much remained in the OFF position. I've made a few false starts on editing old books, and a false start or two on some short stories, but for all intents and purposes, I have simply become a small-time blogger, a work newsletter editor, and an occasional ghostwriter for friends' educational and professional needs. And that's it. There's nothing fiction about me anymore. There's nothing book about me anymore.
And I hate that.
So as I was circling the nice flat, easy-riding church parking lot today, doing my figure-eights, I was thinking about how I have done the same thing with my writing career - and my career in general - as I do with my bike riding routine. Avoiding the rigors of the hills and valleys, taking the easy way out, and just riding in circles.
When I was 20 years old and a piano major in college, I didn't want to practice the piano two hours a day anymore, or give a scary public senior recital, so I quit music and majored in history instead. Why did I major in history? Because I wanted to do something important with that degree? No, because it was the only thing I could major in and still graduate on time.
I took the easy way out. Then, when I graduated, did I go on to graduate school, as I had long planned? No, I decided to pursue a writing career, saying I'd go back to school when I was 30 if nothing panned out with the writing.
When I turned 30, did I go to graduate school? I did apply, yes, but when I didn't get accepted, I gave up and decided to do something simpler - namely X-ray school.
Now I'm an X-ray tech, and have I gone on to get certified in another, higher-paying modality, like I planned in X-ray school?
Instead I'm just riding in circles on the flat ground. Taking the easy way out.
Now, there's nothing at all wrong with being an X-ray tech. That's not my point. I enjoy being an X-ray tech and I'm not really interested right now in moving into a different area of imaging. I also don't have much interest in administration.
But I do want to write. And there is no reason anymore, other than sheer laziness and taking the easy way out, that I shouldn't be writing again like I did in my 20's, when I completed five novels in about seven years.
It's time for me to stop riding in circles. It's time to stop avoiding the hills. It's time to start seriously writing fiction again.
With that in mind, this anonymous comment I received recently on a blog post where I posted an Emily Dickinson poem, is quite timely:
I have stumbled into your blog before, I see much less poetry these days! Write! :) Emily is wonderful but I enjoy your creativity. I'll undoubtedly peek back in a few months to look for progress. LolI have no idea who left this comment, and the context implies that it's not someone I know.
So I prefer to think of it as a little vote of confidence, a little voice of encouragement, from God or the Universe or whatever you want to call it.
It's time to get to work. It's time to write.