Something happens to a woman when she turns forty. I’m sure things happen to men, too, but since I’m not a man I can’t really speak to that. Turning forty didn’t freak me out or send me into this existential crisis that I halfway expected. I had heard things, you see.
I had been working for a few years as a freelance writer, but unable to really justify the time spent writing, because, in the end, it might not make me any money. I felt like I needed to be spending my efforts either on earning a paycheck or with my family. Freelancing is a fickle business, and it’s either feast or famine. During the famine times, I was with my family a lot. During a feast time, they might not see me, other than for twenty minutes at dinner, for days.
When forty came it hit not like a freight train, but rather like those slow boats you see paddling across still lakes at fancy resort hotels. I decided I should make a commitment to running a lot more, and that maybe I should go ahead and quit this smoking nonsense. I thought those were reasonable responses to turning forty, although I was still waiting for that crisis everyone had told me to expect. So I started running more, although my ankles hated me for it, and I quit smoking, although my chocolate intake went way up. Which led to more running.
And then one day I woke up. I don’t mean woke up in the lazy Saturday sense, but woke up in the Oh-no-I-didn’t-hear-the-alarm-go-off-and-now-I’m-going-to-be-late-for-work sense. I realized, in that moment, that everything I had been doing for the last few years had been preparing me for the one thing that I had wanted to do, but had put off doing, for the multitude of reasons that women put off doing things. It was time for me to be a writer.
It was time for me to get off my rear end, and start writing. Yes, technically I was writing for a living, but I have stories to tell. These characters live in my head and some days, they just won’t shut up! And I knew, that morning, that if I didn’t start writing today, that I was going to regret it for the rest of my life. And since I had recently quit smoking, that life was going to be a good bit longer.
So I started writing. I looked for other writerly people, and found 10 Minute Novelists. I felt like I had found my tribe. They understood, they knew what I was going through. And the idea of writing for ten minutes a day was thrilling to me! Even as a busy mom who worked full time, I knew I could find TEN ENTIRE MINUTES!
And so I did. It’s taken me a bit to get started. Waking up that morning left me feeling like I had just jumped off a cliff and was falling into some great unknown. It was unfamiliar territory, to be sure. I felt lost, but not afraid. In fact, I felt like, even though I was lost, I was where I was supposed to be.
I was writing.