Musing on my birthday and why 44 seems…kinda underwhelming.

12 01 2011

Weather: Typical January High: 27º and intermittent snow showers.


Today I turned 44.  ::looks at the number. Remains unimpressed::

It’s not a milepost birthday…not even a mid-decade marker.
It’s a perfectly non-descript age. And oddly enough, that makes it all the more motivational for me.

I have a bad tendency to place unreasonable expectations on certain age milestones. So far, I have failed miserably to reach the goals I set for each. It is on these odd, non-descript age markers that I tend to accomplish the most. I graduated college at 23. Got married at 38.  And so on.

So 44 and I had an unspoken “conversation” that went something like this:

Me: Well…I got nothing. What should I expect this year?

44: [raises eyebrow] See. You’re doing it again. That “expectation” thing. I am not letting you set any this year.

Me: [Flailing] What? No Expectations? How will I manage to get anything accomplished?

44: [Shakes head] Because that’s worked out so well for you in the past. How about cleaning the slate this year? I mean REALLY cleaning the slate. No carryover plans from last year, no lingering worries & doubts?

Me: [thinks, twitches, thinks some more] Well that might work. How about creating some NEW goals? New shiny, sparkly, ACHIEVABLE goals?

44: [whaps me on the head] How about clearing out all the excess crap and see what you’re left with? Ever consider that the things that really matter to you aren’t the same as last year? Or 5 years ago? You have a trainwreck of abandoned ideas, goals, projects and “shiny new things” behind you. Very few you saw through to finish.

Me: O_O Geez, 44! You’re mean!

44:  No. I’m practical. And honest. And…

Me: Right. You’re right. This year, instead of flogging the entire herd of dead horses who are not getting any fresher, maybe I should just clear the field and see what wanders in?

44: ::Nods and fades away. ::

So, in that really clunky metaphorical conversation, you can see what my brain has been dealing with whenever I try to set some goals.

Truth be told, my writing has ground to a halt. I have moments where scenes present themselves & I dutifully write them down. But nothing is coalescing. I’ve rewritten the opening chapters for Book #2 five times now. Nothing has clicked. I’m re-editing book #1 to streamline it a bit more as I realize, upon looking it over after a couple months of locking it away, that there WAS a lot to be cleaned out.

Here’s the truth. And it’s not really what I wanted to hear, but it’s the truth. I envy my husband. Because the art he works in is concrete. It has clear steps, from beginning to end. The creativity comes in the picking of glass, colors & layout. After that, it’s assembly & patience.

Writing has no clear steps, and it shouldn’t. It’s a nebulous, always morphing art form. The story can change and usually does at least a few times. The outcome you planned may not be the one you end up with.

And here’s my conundrum. I have several stories planned out. I have a general sense of the stories I want to tell, but the actual  fleshing out has suddenly become problematic. The main problem is I’m a math brained person trying to create art. I keep trying to logic myself out of plot issues when I should be relaxing, visualizing the story and letting it work some of the kinks out. I know there are writers who can do this, I just seem unable right now. I have tried all the usual methods of re-starting a stalled story. Truth is I’m not feeling very inspired right now.  I haven’t been able to concoct something that makes me go “YES! I want to work on that now.”

So, in the interim, I’ve decided to take a brief break and focus on another field I enjoy, photography. I don’t talk about it much, but I’ve been taking photos for as long as I could hold a camera. Not just posed fun shots, but arty nature shots and doing some different types of portraiture. I have a camera but it’s not the quality I need to actually take the kind of photos I want.  So. I’m going to invest in a decent mid-level camera and start taking my photography a little more seriously. Brian wants me to do promo shots of his glass work for his portfolio, so there’s a place to start.

I’m also thinking of starting some freelance non-fiction writing & doing a podcast. Not sure of the topics yet, but I have a few tendrils of ideas that I’m trying to work out.

So. There you have it. 44 and I have made a pact. No worrying about things that aren’t working right now. Go find another outlet until the block is broken. And if it isn’t, that’s okay too.

I have some big ideas, but it’s time I just started pursuing them, rather than make elaborate Gordian Knot shaped plans that ultimately sink under their own weight. Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention to stop writing. I don’t think I can. Maybe it’s just time for me to consider a different kind of writing, or a different way to share my writing with others.

How will it turn out? I don’t know. And that’s kind of okay too.




2 responses

13 01 2011

I cannot wait to see your art, HPrime! Sometimes we have to walk away from our writing. It’ll be there waiting for you *hugs*. So will your audience. 🙂

13 01 2011
Heidi Ellis

Thanks so much H2! Yeah, I’m actually feeling my brain relax a bit now that I’ve taken any pressure off the table. I think that the traditional route has never been a good fit for me, so I’m taking the time to explore other venues. I may never be on the best seller list, but at least I’ll make the art I want and deliver it in the way I want. 😉

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