Yesterday I backed up my computer for the first time in over a year. (Sidebar: HOLY CRAP, how could I have let so much time go by?! Bad, bad Kristan…) Since I was hooked up to all my old files anyway, I decided to browse through some of my writing from college.
Many of the stories were so emo that I couldn’t read past the first page. Did I seriously turn that stuff in to my professors? (And get A’s on it, for the most part?) I thought I’d left all the melodramatic teenage angst behind in high school. Unfortunately not.
Thankfully there are a handful of stories that I’m still reasonably proud of (including “The Tenth Time” and “The Escape”) to balance things out. There is even one that I may clean up and offer on Amazon along with TWENTY-SOMEWHERE and “The Eraser.” What’s funny is, the story is definitely YA, but it was written long before I knew what YA was. I guess that seed has always been inside me, just waiting to be watered.
Anyway, this somewhat entertaining, somewhat embarrassing journey through my past also brought to the surface a very specific memory: Me telling Andy that things would be different once I graduated college.
I remember the moment vividly: a bright Sunday afternoon, I was a senior, sitting on my extra-long twin bed, feverishly writing the next 10 pages of my thesis project, which were due the following day. My thesis project was a novel — or more accurately, half of a novel, because with all my extracurricular activities, a full 300+ page manuscript seemed out of the question. And that was precisely what I was explaining to Andy. That being a resident assistant, and director of the dance club, and a sexual assault advisor, along with my full course load, took up too much time and energy. It wasn’t reasonable to expect me to write a novel on top of all of that. (Never mind that he had done it when he was a sophomore…)
But once I graduated, and had only a job to worry about (“only” a job, HAHAHA), then things would be better. I’d finish the novel in no time. Not only that, but I’d write a short story every month (and get them all published, HAHAHAHAHA). I’d practically breathe words onto the page, in this naïve fantasy future of mine. It’d be so easy. Once I’d graduated.
About a year later, we were having the same conversation. Only it wasn’t “when I graduate,” it was “if I didn’t have a job.” For nearly 4 years, I told myself that writing would be easier, faster, if I could focus on it full-time. So one day, with the support of Andy and my parents, I decided to take the plunge. I quit my job. There was nothing in the way anymore.
Two years later, I’m still not living in that magical, fantasy future. Now it’s not “if I didn’t have a job,” it’s “if I had an agent.” “If I had more money.” “If my wrists didn’t hurt so much.” “If I were sleeping better.” If if if…
All the “if”s in the world are not going to make this any easier or faster, I’ve realized. It all starts and ends with me. I have to figure out how I work best, and then do it. It’s as simple — and difficult — as that.
(On a related note, that old cliché is true: Be happy now, because now is all you’ve got.)
So whenever I feel like the hardest thing about writing is that it’s just me and the page, I’m going to try to remind myself that, ever since I was a girl, my favorite thing about writing has always been that it’s just me and the page.