Navigating Life in a Literary Minefield
Typically we use this space to yell at idiots, and rarely exclude ourselves from that classification. Today is no exception, except we’re excluding all of you. Feel free to self-include in this public castigation, but today we’ll largely direct our vitriol inward.
Forward thinking is good, mostly. You don’t want to see your best days trailing behind you, winking out like ancient stars. That’s never been my style. I’ve got my eye on the road ahead, on what dreams may come, and mostly it’s served me well. I guess because the alternative makes me sad to the point of illness. People who are like, “Ugh, 2020 is the shittiest year ever!” bother me, because you know they said the same thing about 2019, 2018, 2017, and so on. For that person, no matter what year it is, it’s shit. Every day is the worst day of their fucking life, and I don’t even wanna speculate what that must feel like.
I can be cynical when it comes to human nature, but when it comes to the arc of my own existence I am an incorrigible optimist. Believe me, no one is more surprised than I am. Single days may vary in degree of suckage, but over time I believe each year will be better than the last and you know what? I haven’t been wrong yet. I went through a dark period in my thirties when I had young children and no personal identity outside of Chief Juice Pouring Technician, but even at my lowest point, I never wished to go back to some better time in the past. The future is unwritten, you know? You can fill it with all the good exciting stuff you want and so long as it remains in the future you can’t rule it out. It’s how I’ve learned to thrive in high stress environments, to keep cool in the cut, to be happy when there is objectively little to be happy about — because there is always something to look forward to.
And in this way, by rolling at a breakneck pace towards that brilliant light on the horizon, I cheat myself out of taking pleasure in where I’ve been and where I am.
A case study: Lola and Noggy are not ambitious in the traditional sense. They aren’t type A. They aren’t climbers out to prove how much better they are than anyone else. They’re more like those annoying kids that won’t sit still at carpet time. Most of the time they’re barely aware there IS anyone else. They’re just…busy.
Lola: I see you’ve made a spreadsheet of all our projects and tasks for the next few months.
Noggy: Launch two books, finish our novel drafts, edit forthcoming publishing projects, and make more spreadsheets. Think we can handle it?
Lola: What’s the worst that could happen?
Noggy: We’ve spent the length of a pregnancy working on these two new releases for The Seventh Terrace, it’s so cool to see them birthed out into the world.
Lola: That was yesterday, Nog. We got drunk on zoom, ensured both authors will never work with us again, what’s next?
Lola: Wow, did we really just launch two books and do NaNo?
Noggy: That was yesterday Silkysocks, shouldn’t you be editing our next book for TST?
Lola: And then we have to work on that new Purgatorio book
Noggy: And then we’re going to run every single day in December
Lola: And then I’m going to get back to my novel
Noggy: And we have the winter running scavenger hunt
Lola: And then we should co-write another story, and it’ll be race season again!
Noggy: And then I’ll make more spreadsheets!
If you ever wanted to see goblins on Adderall, this is it. These two are fucking exhausting, and the problem becomes evident.
There’s nothing wrong with having goals and a plan for the future, but at a certain point I find I’m moving too fast to take any real satisfaction in what I’ve accomplished. Maybe I’m even more afraid of getting stuck in the present than I am in the past.
I don’t do resolutions, but this is more about evolution. I still believe my best days are ahead of me, but I’d like to develop the skill of being still, to lose the fear of losing momentum, to hang out unhurried, look back and be like “Wow, we really did some cool shit, didn’t we?”