The Autumn of Discontent

So the Summer of Dying continued. My dear friend Ashley lost her dear friend Dylan, who was a sixteen-year-old dog, but was also a strange and interesting guy who liked to stare at you and chomp his teeth silently. He left her heart and home empty, like Cali left ours. It’s a tough emptiness to fill.

Summer is gone, and it’s cold and grey and October, and in the wake of my grief over Cali (which is still ongoing, make no mistake) my midlife crisis kicked itself back to life. I’ve sort of been living through it for about three years, although it ebbs and flows. When it ebbs, I’m sort of content with my life; when it flows, I hate everything and all the choices I’ve made and the direction I’ve taken. I become irrationally jealous of people who have achieved things I wanted for myself, and then angry at myself for making the choices that led me to where I am instead of where they are.

Yes, it’s all irrational, and yes, I know that, and no, that doesn’t help.

So last week, I had a small meltdown after reading a very good book by an author I like. I went through my usual sadness at finishing a good book, and then I was beset by grief over the life this author has made for herself and that I did not make for myself.

Honestly, I know nothing about her personally. I know nothing about her life or what she wanted. I don’t know her. I’ve never seen her before. I’ve certainly never met her. I’ve never even read interviews with this woman. But in that moment, she was the person who had achieved what has been difficult-to-impossible for me: she has written novels, and published them, and each one is better than the next, and her stories are well-researched and well-plotted, and her characterizations are excellent, and she is quite obviously a conscientious, diligent and hard-working writer.

And I was SO JEALOUS.

I knew I was being stupid and unfair. It’s MY fault that I am not conscientious and diligent and hard-working. I chose a career path that would support me financially rather than “chase my dream” because I know that I’m not diligent and hard-working enough to govern myself through writing fiction professionally. I also feel like my ideas are stupid and I shouldn’t bother. I could quit my job tomorrow and decide “I want to be a writer” and sit and write for eight hours a day and still be met with failure. But she didn’t, and I’m very happy for her, but also JEALOUS.

It has passed, for now, that feeling. I went to work last week and worked hard at my big kid job. I made a promise, again, that I would try to write more. I’m going away by myself next weekend to sort my shit out and work on some things.

So I’m here. I wrote a lot of freelance before I wrote this post, and now I’m hungry, but I need to write something creative today, and maybe every day. I’ll just keep trying, and maybe diligence will come with repetition and consistent self-shame. That’s how I roll.

Will the Autumn of Discontent lead into the Winter of Wish Fulfillment? Stay tuned! <loud piano noise>

B

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