I got my first tattoo the second week of August, during my twenty-eighth year. That November, I turned twenty-nine, and I joked with everyone that my next tattoo was going to be a tramp stamp that said “29 Forever.” That’s how scared I was of turning thirty. Then one day I told that joke to an older friend of mine and she didn’t laugh. Instead she told me that her thirties had been way better than her twenties, and she went on to give me many examples of how that was true. I’d never thought about age like that before. So I took a look back at my twenties and realized, yeah, it had been a pretty tough decade. Then I determined that as much as I could control it, my thirties were going to be better. And for the most part, they really have.
Now here I am, nearing the precipice of my thirty-ninth birthday, and facing the same dilemma. I’ve gotten two more tattoos since then, (neither of which is a tramp stamp btdubs) but I don’t feel any braver. So what if my thirties were better than my twenties, what if that happens for everybody, and what if it’s the last time it turns out that way? What if it’s all downhill from here on out? When I was a kid, there was a show on TV called “Thirtysomething.” I’ve never heard of anything called Forty-something, or Fifty-something. Nobody cares enough about the lives of middle aged people to watch them on TV every week, right? Well, that’s not true even if it feels like it is. The problem is that forty year olds are always playing thirty year olds, right? I don’t know. Why am I talking about TV?
I went to a new exercise class this morning. It started at 8:30, and I got there at 8:50. It was still a good workout. I don’t want to obsess about being twenty minutes late -- I was doing good just to go exercise. It’s been several weeks since I’ve done that. This summer I worked out on a pretty regular basis, but since school started it’s been harder. Schedules have been busier and time has been harder to find. But I’ve made a commitment for the month of November. I’m going to go to this class three times a week. That’s Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, at you-guessed-it, 8:30 a.m! Think I can make it? I already know that I’m going to have to miss Monday and Wednesday next week because of prior commitments. But I can still work out some other time on those days, right?
The other thing I’ve committed to do for the month of November is to write five hundred words a day. I missed yesterday though, so I’m already behind. Does that mean I have to write a thousand today? I don’t know. I’ve never been a very good rule follower. I guess I’m just too rebellious. Blame it on the fact that I was a preacher’s kid. I can justify my own way of doing things, versus someone else’s hard nosed rules, every which way to Sunday. I guess that’s why I’ve never done very well with following a diet plan, or sewing a complex pattern, or even coloring. I’ve never been the kind of person who likes to stay inside the lines. The only rule I’ve kept somewhat successfully these last few years is that on my “writing” days, I’m not allowed to log onto social media until I’ve spent some time writing first. That’s the high point of my discipline. Aren’t you impressed?
So, if you come back here any this month, this is what you’ll likely see. I’m not composing anything grand or important here on the blog. It won’t be a novel in one month, or a new poem each day. I’m not even sure that I’ll post what I write every day. I’m just trying to learn how to get up and get my fingers moving for a little bit, every single day. I’ve been toying with this writing business for several years now. I even have thirty-five thousand words saved in a document that I like to think of as a manuscript. But lately, I’m having a hard time with writing anything new for the book. I keep editing the old stuff, or working on something totally unrelated, only to find that I don’t know how to finish that either. I fear I’ve made too much of writing somehow, that I’ve elevated it to some sacred ritual that can only be practiced when all the conditions are right.
But if I keep waiting on the right conditions, I’ll never exercise, or write. I’ve always heard people say that there’s no such thing as the perfect time to get married, or to start having children. If you keep waiting for the perfect time, you’ll never do it. It’s the same way with writing. If I keep waiting on the right conditions, I’ll just devise a new version of “right” and keep on procrastinating.
So don’t go looking for this inaugural post to make a great deal of sense. I’m just hoping to practice. And maybe by the time I turn thirty nine, I’ll have a new, and better, writing habit that will help me finish my first book by the time I’m forty. Who knows, maybe I’ll even call it Forty-Something.
Now, if I can only come up with ninety-one words for this last paragraph, I can finally get on Facebook. Let’s see, what random stuff can I tack on here at the end? I could hammer home the idea that writing is like exercise, and that it takes training to be able to run a marathon, or some other brilliant metaphor like that. Maybe I should talk about my tattoos again? Oh, who cares, nine-hundred and ninety-six will have to be enough for days one and two.