On the 32nd anniversary of my eighth birthday.
I don’t know that I can quite yet tie together all the thoughts that have come up while I’ve been thinking about turning 40. They’ll probably surface bit by bit over the next few days, weeks, whatever, or maybe never.
Since Jenn is working tonight – my actual birthday, Nov. 17 – she and Kelsey and I went out for a low-key birthday dinner on my last night as a thirtysomething, stuffing ourselves at a little Italian restaurant in Hartville. Best stromboli I’ve had in decades. (Yes, really.) When we got home, we dug into a pecan pie Kelsey made: my birthday dessert request.
My first actual waking hours of Birthday No. 40 came between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m., during which my brain was pretty much chattering along with all sorts of ideas for writing and stuff to remember while also entertaining me with Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” (Sorry. Some things you just can’t control.) Jenn woke up for a few minutes, and we had a conversation about the first few weeks after we adopted Pepper – two years ago this month.
I woke up for real about 7:30 and decided to go for a run. It took me a full 10 minutes and three trips in and out of the bedroom to find my shoes. Gray outside, and windy, and about 40 degrees or so, but once I got out there, it felt good. I did just over 4 miles – once around our semi-rural “block” – and though I didn’t time myself, I managed a good kick the last couple tenths of a mile and crossed the finish line at our driveway going full-tilt.
The morning consisted of some breakfast and some Stargate:Universe on the DVR, and hanging out with Jenn a bit, and then going out to renew the license plates and get a new driver’s license. (Sporting, of course, the new “work outfit” Jenn & Kels had gotten me – a nice pair of jeans and a Kermit the Frog T-shirt. My girls rock.) I also had a few errands to run, and it was a decent day just to be driving around and thinking and probably overthinking.
It was lunchtime when I got home, and Jenn was already getting ready for work.
After she left, I took a really short afternoon nap, and then tried to wrap up a short assignment before Kelsey got home and needed to go to her physical therapy appointment.
She and I watched last night’s Conan O’Brien – the one with Harrison Ford – and then my friend Jim called, and we talked for a long time, wrapping up the conversation with some good idea-bouncing about the whole balancing of creative endeavors with work.
Because lately I’ve been feeling awfully unstructured, creativity-wise. The last independent project I worked on was a detailed journal of Star Wars Celebration V, and though I’ve had several ideas since then, I’ve really struggled to focus on my non-work-related writing, whether it’s been here on the blog (witness the frequency of my photo-collecting posts of late) or with the fiction and non-fiction inspirations that currently exist only as scraps or notes or vague possibilities.
There’s also, frankly, the whole stress-over-work thing. It can be excruciatingly difficult to focus on personal creative work when I’m wondering where my next paid assignment is coming from and waiting on news from the mortgage modification people and worrying about that tiny but brand-new noise my 115,000-mile-plus car seems to be making.
But I got to thinking about 2000 – the year I wrote Crossing Decembers, and how part of that process involved keeping a journal of the creative process of writing that book. Since my goal was to work on the thing every day, no matter what, I kept note of what that work was. Just a sentence or two summarizing the parts I’d worked on. Some days that meant several hundred words, others – and I’m thinking of a stomach-flu stretch here – the work consisted of just coming up with an idea and making sure I jotted myself a reminder to run with it the next time I sat down at the keyboard.
That journal kept me honest, in a way, and I think I’m going to give it a try again, only this time, just making sure that every day I spend some time in personal creation or creation-related mode – whether it’s writing for the blog (and I’m talking real sit-down-and-hammer writing, not the photo dumps), or working on a project, or maybe working on project proposals or query letters or something that’s tied to writing I’m doing that’s not tied to my freelancing.
And rather than wait to start it when the calendar flips, I’m starting it today – the first day of my 41st year.