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On a Movable Finish Line

There was a moment when I decided that I should publish my first book at thirty. It was a nice age, I reasoned, old enough to have lived a bit, young enough to still be considered a Young Writer. That and I was holding a book in my hand written by a woman who was, according to her author bio, thirty. Reasonable goal, yes?

I certainly thought so. But then again, plenty of things seem reasonable at age twenty-three.

Coincidentally, I also had it in my mind that thirty was the ideal age at which to have my first child. I guess I thought that I'd be editing a literary baby while carrying the human variety.

And here we are. Shortly before becoming pregnant, I decided to put my first novel aside for a bit. I got a good run out of it. Got an agent right out of the gate, had a broad submission to publishing houses I'd heard of and editors who had edited writers I've read and loved, and then, got a pile of mostly-wonderful pass letters. My favorite was one of the last, written by an editor who said that she'd nearly talked herself into it multiple times. I was split between wanting to fly out to New York and talk her into it myself and wanting to send her flowers. She was the closest I got, at least on this round of submissions.

In the meantime, we aquired a dog. A puppy, really, with all that this entailed. He's now a ninety-four pound mostly-gentle giant. And fortunately, he also gets along beautiful with our nearly ten-month-old, twenty-pound baby.

So a baby. A dog. And a novel still in manuscript form while I muse about just what to do next. Did I mention that according to my twenty-three year old self, I'm on the wrong side of thirty?

There's a lot to be said for failure. I've probably said it to myself, before the failure on this project was absolute. I'm sure I've said it to my students, what with all the talk about grit and hard work and education as learning to perservere, all things I really do believe and hope to impart to them. And there's something purifying about saying Enough. That's it. I will start over.

But there are so many ways to start over. If I truly appreciate the myraid of ways to be a writer at this point in time, at this point in my life, the incredible wealth of finish lines available to me, I might just remain here, at the starting line.

I wonder whether I will fall into the easy adult routine of asking my daughter what she wants to be when she grows up. The older I get, the more my answer, at least privately, is simply to be whatever version of myself is current. 

Right now that's a newish mother, plugging away on a murder mystery set in Silicon Valley, who's also attempting to get her literal house in order. And train the dog. At least it's a touch too early to toilet train the baby.


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