It’s easy to second guess decisions we’ve made and hindsight is twenty-twenty, or so they say. I bring that up because today I was thinking, not for the first time, about how passionate and confident I am in my future as a fiction writer and how in the past that feeling often would have been accompanied by a feeling of regret – regret that I didn’t find my way to this place sooner. That regret comes from a misguided notion that I could have done this particular kind of writing at any time and would have had that much more time to be successful.
The reason I don’t have that regret now is that I don’t believe I could have done the kind of work I’m doing now, 10 years ago or more. I would have done different work, and I’m sure I would have enjoyed it, but that’s neither here not there, clearly. My perspective now is that I spent those decades collecting experiences, honing a variety of skills, following my curiosity down a large number of very rewarding paths and doing a lot of internal work on myself. The genre for my current novel-in-progress is sometimes called dystopia, though it could also be described as speculative-future fiction. Speculating about the future and creating realistic, complex and interesting characters to populate that future is not easily done until you’ve learned a little about a lot of things: economics, race conflicts, culture wars, the environmental impacts of humankind on this planet, group think and sociology, mental health, perspectives based on a diverse number of variables, what it feels like to age, what it feels like to move across gender lines, what it feels like to fall in love and experience heart break and live through depression and feel triumph and failure. All of the things I’ve read about, lived, participated in, seen, witnessed and felt are a part of a grand stew I can draw from.
So sure, I would probably have enjoyed pursuing my passion for writing rather than the career path I chose, but that was then and this is now. I made the choice, it wasn’t a bad one, I’ve learned a lot.
And really, having come to this place, at this age and in this state of the world, I can honestly say that my best work is ahead of me. That is not a bad place to be.
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