To everyone still reading this blog in the new year, happy 2021! Welcome back to my ongoing midlife crisis, where I’m pleased to announce that despite my best efforts I still remain solidly On My Bullshit.
As the year of 2020 drew to a close, so did the flower of my youth… (I turned 30, okay, allow an old woman her theatrics.) More than ever, I found myself staring down the astronomical list of projects I still–STILL–haven’t finished, darkened by the increasing tint of the impending void hurtling faster and faster towards me to swallow me up.
Granted, I hadn’t seriously decided to pursue authorship as my career until about eight years ago (for a long time I was convinced I would be an actor), but even then I had always imagined 30 being the age of True Adulthood–when you finally have all your shit together and are Living Your Best Life Now. Nearly every day on Twitter you see more and more authors in their early or mid-twenties debuting their first novel, even getting signed for multiple other books within months of the debut. Authors like Tomi Adeyemi have made it big with a signed trilogy (and now a movie deal) even before 25, while I’m over here agonizing over a single chapter and generally wondering how on earth I am considered a real adult person now.
YOU MISSED YOUR WINDOW! HetPat, the physical manifestation of my anxiety, swaggers on over uninvited, dressed to the nines as the Grim Reaper, no doubt impatient for me to shuffle off this mortal coil. MAYBE YOU COULD HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED BY NOW IF YOU HADN’T WASTED SO MUCH TIME! IF YOU’D TRIED HARDER! YOU SAID YOU WANTED TO BE SUCCESSFUL WHILE YOU’RE STILL YOUNG AND HEALTHY ENOUGH TO ENJOY IT! WELL TOO LATE NOW, THE YOUTHS ARE PASSING YOU UP AND YOU ONLY HAVE A FEW SHORT DECADES LEFT TO DO EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO DO, AND THAT’S IF YOU’RE LUCKY!
Okay first of all, calling them “youths” makes you sound like a dime-store Chicago gangster.
Second–yeah let’s not pretend like I don’t have major FOMO every time a young, scrappy, and hungry author debuts at the age where I was only just deciding to take my writing seriously. I look at these young, talented, beautiful people and every cell in my body is like, “Your biological clock is ticking, time to pop out that book baby already. Loser.”
It’s times like these that I must once again force myself (sometimes physically) to reread articles that remind me of wildly successful authors (specifically women) who debuted after they turned 30. It’s enough of an uphill battle for women constantly fighting society’s heinous and nonsensical idea that once you hit 30, you may as well pack it up because you’re as good as dead. And when you add the hurdles of publishing to the mix? No wonder HetPat has a literal smorgasbord of insecurities to feed on with every passing day.
Society’s obsession with youth–especially as it pertains to women/people of color/any disenfranchised group–is nothing but a way to uphold white supremacy and eugenic ideals, not to mention a way to control the bodies of those people.
And if we don’t fit that mold, if we don’t “succeed” during that very specific and arbitrary time frame, we’re conditioned to feel like we’re failures.
I guess the thing to remember (I say, as a total hypocrite who struggles to believe this) is that there IS no window for “making it.” Obviously, yes, I would very much prefer to have more of my life ahead of me than behind me when it comes to having time to write and publish everything I want to. And no, I’m not getting any younger as I sit here, spinning in panic circles and avoiding the pressure of making myself New Year’s writing goals.
But if there’s a reminder that I really need stapled to my forehead (or a water gun to nab HetPat with), it’s why I write in the first place–it’s (technically) not for the fame or money or renown (because HA, like THAT’LL ever happen), it’s to share stories. It’s about the impact I might leave on the world, the people I might help, the ideas I might explore.
Because at the end of the day, HetPat only cares about power: who has it, and who can’t have it. Time isn’t real, and no one will care how old you were when you wrote the story that’s getting them through a hard time. We’re all fighting the same powers that try and tell us what we’re worthy of, or what we do or don’t deserve (LIKE HETPAT)–unfortunately, that obstacle won’t go away anytime soon.
Anyway, that’s enough out of Grandma–y’all eat your veggies, smash the patriarchy, and write your damn book. I’m tired and old and I’m gonna go take a midday nap before getting back to work.