Last Wednesday’s IWSG post got me to thinking. Which, I suppose, is what those topics are intended to do…
I wrote in that post about 2017 in a pretty general way. Looking back, of course, tends to do that: other than the truly exceptional — good or bad — things tend to blur together. As the distance from them grows, the individual points lose their granularity and blend into a broader picture.
And, yeah, I’m using Pointillist painting for that analogy…because who doesn’t like a cool painting?
Anyway, the thinking…
We tend to forget the details, tend to forget the honesty and the emotion — the raw urgency — when we look back. We tend to remember the past, and to come across when we write about it, very differently than we lived it at the time. Sometimes that distance is good, but often it is bad…occasionally very bad.
When I reread my IWSG post, I found a hint of phlegmatic acceptance that is most decidedly NOT who I am. I wanted to drill a bit into that, wanted to make a point that I did not in that post: life is a fight, and you better damned well fight to win.
Three of the worst words in my little corner of the universe: maybe next year.
Maybe next year will be better.
Maybe next year I’ll get it together.
Maybe next year the words will come easier.
Maybe next year…
Not to sound like a heartless asshole, but maybe next year you, or I, will be dead.
I lost one sister when she was far too young…I’m worried about losing another…I lost one of my best friends when I was seventeen…I’ve lost too many more in the years since…
It’s a trite and overused old thought that I have to add (overused precisely because it’s true): you are not promised tomorrow.
Now, I’m gonna leave aside the more irresponsible parts of my life in this post: shit like the (arguably) crazy hiking I do, or the (arguably) reckless personal risks I am willing to take.
Nope, I want to focus on who I am, not on what I do.
And, as I’ve said before, who I am is a writer.
Yes, the money sucks for a freelancer. Yes, the money sucks even worse for a writer new to the fiction industry. Yes, there is far more frustration and challenge than celebration sometimes…err, often times.
“Go back to marketing and sales. Be responsible. Maybe next year you’ll be in a better place.”
“Maybe next year the money will be better.”
“Maybe next year you’ll have more time.”
I hear this from others — from friends and family — fairly often. I hear this from the little demon on my shoulder all the time. Hell, I hear this from myself.
Maybe next year…
The words are who I am. If I give in, if I say “Maybe next year I can be who I really am…” all I’m doing is surrendering. All I’m doing is denying who I am by pretending to be who others want me to be.
Remember what I said above: life is a fight, and you have to fight to win. At least I do.
I might very well die tomorrow…or next week…or next summer…or in thirty years. But, no matter what, I refuse to have my last thought be that stupidest of regrets: if only I had one more year…
I’d much rather die reaching for a pen. I’d much rather have my last thought be one of hope: shit, this would make a great scene…
Maybe next year isn’t an option. It isn’t encouragement, isn’t acceptance. It isn’t even regret. No, maybe next year is a curse and a trap.
For me, at least, there is no alternative — I have to live, and write, like this is it…like there is no next year.
What is your next year? What are you putting off?
What value, what meaning, are you deferring because, well, maybe next year...?