Saturday, June 4, 2016

Quick Thoughts - Happy Birthday to Me

So I just turned 30. It's something of a…well, it's a number with a zero in it so I guess it's what people consider a milestone. Woo, three decades of life. Almost that much time being sentient. I wonder at times what 30 means to people. I assume that, in the near-ish past, it was a time for people to look around and say "I've got this life thing about figured out." At 30 people are expected to be making progress. Having families. Living that American dream. And…and I don't know whether to laugh or vomit.

I'm 30 right now and I'm not really looking around and thinking "I've got this all figured out." I do not. I'm getting published a bit more than I was last year, or the year before that. I'm doing more reviews, and interacting with more people. I think I'm starting to find what works for me. Maybe. Just a little bit. But in other ways not at all. I was asked at the Baby Writer panel at WisCon what I do to cope with trying to write, which sort of made me pause. Because, in my mind, I'm not sure I do. I'm still flailing, trying to maybe find something that might work. Trying to find balance. Failing. Trying to find it some other way. Like life is some sort of block castle and mine keeps falling to pieces. So take a breath, start again, and try not to look at the cool castles other people have.

I think when I was in school I used to think "By 25 I'll have a novel published. Maybe two novels." Obviously that didn't happen. At 30 my thought is…"Maybe I'll make it to SFWA eligible in a year or two." A novel? Unless I can publish a book of reviews I don't think that's in the cards. Maybe soon I'll want to pull that trigger. But then, I write between thirty and forty thousand words of reviews a month. It's not exactly possible for me to just write…more. So either I would have to stop writing reviews (which I don't want to do) or stop writing short fiction (which I don't want to do). Or write less of everything (which I don't want to do). Ah life, the process of figuring out which thing I don't want to cut I need to cut.

But perhaps this sounds a bit bleak. I don't really mean it to be. Or not all bleak. I think age is something that reminds us that there isn't time to write all the stories, all the novels. That time exists. That I could be farther, more successful. That if I knew at 20 what I know at 30 I'm not sure that I'd be doing the same thing. But also knowing that I'm in a better place on so many levels than I was at 20. That I do know more what I'm doing. That I have more figured out. And that's…well, that's my goal in some ways. To be able to look back and say "I have it more figured out than I did a year ago." That even if I'm not lighting the world on fire with my work, I'm still further than I was last year. That next year I'll be further than I am now.

30 is, after all, just a number. No more important or meaningful than 29 or 31. And I have things to celebrate this year. My urban fantasy m/m romance "Fieldwork" is available now from Dreamspinner. My superhero story "Medium" is soon to be out in the first Book Smugglers Quarterly Almanac (with art based on my story and it is SO GORGEOUS). My erotic m/m/f wizards story is due out from Torquere at the end of the month. I have over a dozen stories either out or forthcoming this year plus well over a hundred reviews and blogposts. I was on my first convention panels at WisCon. I'm in a fledgling local writing group that's going okay. I have an amazing partner and a house full of hilarious pets and awesome books. I am 30. Happy Birthday to me. Thanks for reading.

All the best,

Charles Payseur

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