Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding…
I have been thinking, over the past couple of days, about May firsts. I have had the good and terrible luck to have had some radically memorable firsts of May over the past few years–three years ago today my first novel was published, two years ago today I remember planting morning glories and revelling in the sunshine; one year ago today touched off a period that contained the darkest months of my life. Wonderful May firsts, and unspeakably terrible ones.
This year has been so different from the year that came before it in so many millions of ways. I’ve been reading some of my journal entries from last year and in places they are truly terrifying, and so powerful–just the act of reading them can transport me back to those moments, that same visceral sense of despair. At last year’s Authors for Indies I remember walking to my local bookstore in a fog–mildly surprised that I could walk at all, that I could talk to people, that I could pretend to laugh and carry on a conversation and function in the world.
Things change wholly, and in some ways they don’t change at all.
I’ve been so busy these past few months. Life has unfolded in glorious ways–I have a job that I love now, a job that I feel so suited for I almost can’t believe it. I went from being worried about not working to suddenly working so much I’m forgetting to eat–from being worried about money to suddenly being–and continuously trying to be–hyper-aware of how much I have, and how much of my life is more than enough. From scarcity to abundance almost everywhere I look. It most definitely hasn’t happened instantaneously–it was a long slow climb out of that hole. Most days I’m still climbing, even given all of the above. But how different, now, to look around and see all of the possibility. How extraordinary. How amazing.
In less than a week, the first Festival of Literary Diversity will launch itself into the world. I am excited and terrified and excited again and so many other things besides. I am still worried about working two part-time jobs versus working one full-time one. I worry about time to write and whether or not I want to stay in Hamilton and then I worry about leaving my family and I worry about leaving my lovely little apartment–although I’ve come to the conclusion that I could be lured away by an apartment or a house with a dishwasher, I really really could–and then I worry about wanting to travel more and still having to pay down debt and not feeling entirely at home in Hamilton anyway and this sneaking suspicion I have about not really feeling at home anywhere, no matter where I am. Maybe it isn’t a thing I’m meant to find, not entirely. I don’t know. I don’t know.
But life is unfolding in ways that I totally didn’t expect. Last year I wrote and polished some short stories, and along the way stumbled into something that might just be my next novel. It is dark and terrible but also maybe beautiful in dark and terrible ways (how unusual, ha). And the thing is, weirdly, that I’m beginning to feel equipped to write this novel in ways that I maybe wasn’t before.
I went to BC for an impromptu trip at the beginning of April. I’ve never taken an impromptu trip of that magnitude–distance, money, anything–before. It was spectacular in all of the ways that a trip can be spectacular–so much sunshine, so many friends, so much good FOOD.
“You seem different,” one friend said to me. “You seem present in the world now in a way that you weren’t before.”
A few hours in the middle of that trip were spent with my closest friend from high school, whom I’ve known now for (eep) over twenty years. I cried a lot, and it was okay.
“Even your writing is different,” she said. “You used to write from here,” and she drew a circle round her head, “and now it feels like you’re writing more from here.” She drew a circle round her heart that second time.
Life is unfolding in ways that I didn’t expect. I am thankful and still terrified. I don’t know what to say about it, most days. The demons have come back in subtle ways and that is still a struggle, still so hard, but I am learning, I am trying to remember, as someone said on Twitter not so long ago, that learning to write well–by your own standards, and not anyone else’s–is the same thing as learning how to live. I am learning how to live all over again. I am learning, I am stretching out on the ground and just grateful to be here at all.
Understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.
(Forgiving yourself, maybe? Even more than others?)
Life is unfolding. Today was the volunteer training session for the FOLD and the excitement was beyond infectious. Such a difference from last year–to feel in control of a life with so much possibliity! To feel valued, to feel like I can contribute to something important, to feel like I can have things to say again that someone, somewhere, might want to read or hear.
I hope I have many more May firsts like this one. I hope, I will try, I will reach.