I got into a lengthy discussion today about the merits of chasing a creative life well into adulthood vs. starting a family and settling down. My contention is that it's perfectly feasible for some people to both have a fulfilling creative life - in any of the arts - and also start a family, but that is just not something I see for myself at this stage. I spent far too many of the last ten years trying to suppress the feelings I've had about writing out of fear that I would somehow be looked at by society as a failure. This is without a doubt the biggest regret of my life so far, to let fear stifle my any creative ambitions that I've had in the past decade. In a lot of ways I feel like I'm just now emerging from a waking nightmare, and now I'm trying to get my life back on track. I was asked what would happen if I met a girl that knocked me off my feet, and I really didn't have an answer for that. I'm just now back at a place in my life that I would even imagine going up to a girl I found attractive and striking up a conversation. This is what happens when you don't take care of your mind or body for a decade, you find yourself completely out of touch with the opposite sex. It's also not something I spend a lot of time thinking about between marathon writing and reading sessions. I've spent the last couple of years living an almost monastic lifestyle. It's been a very slow, arduous process getting back into the grove of being a sociable human being.
I'm a bit of a romantic, so of course I would like to eventually be in a sustainable relationship with a brilliant, beautiful woman. I've been told by many of my girl friends that I need someone who can call me on my self involved bullshit on a daily basis - and I couldn't agree more. The problem is that I really have no idea what I'm looking for in a significant other. I've been out enough in the last couple of months to know what kind of person I am not looking for, but I have yet to meet someone who has knocked me off my feet, so to speak. This probably has more to do with my own self-consciousness when I'm in public than the relative quality of women in my geographical dating pool. It's not as if I think I'm a great catch. I'm the kind of guy who says things like geographical dating pool.
What gets under my skin is when people who are married and/or have kids tell me that they would love to do more creative things but can't because they have real responsibilities now. It's the tone in their voice when they say, "real," that bothers me; as if they are dressing me down for not making the same life decisions they have. In my small corner of the world it is almost a social norm to be married and to have at least one child by the time you turn 25. When I tell people I am working my ass of to become a better writer I get a lot of patronizing stares and dismissive responses, as if I told them I was training to be a Jedi Knight. This isn't something that I have to deal with a lot, but it's becoming more and more of a thing in last year or so. These tend to be the same type of people who post endless photo streams of their children on social media and have really pithy, canned status updates.
When I decided that I was going to throw myself into creative work full-heartedly I knew that I would have to have a develop a thick skin. The first couple months of writing have been up and down. There are days when the writing goes so poorly that I want to throw my computer against the wall and be done with the whole process. There are few people in my personal life who can relate to the difficulty of trying to produce creative work on a consistent basis. Most people can't fathom how I could go an entire day without getting any writing done, because they have jobs in which - no matter how shitty their day is - there is always a tangible product made or service fulfilled when they punch out. It's such a blessing to have a couple of close friends who are constantly supportive of what I am trying to do, and to live in a era where I can talk with dozens of people online about my work.
I've talked to a lot of older people who regret not chasing their passion when they were my age. It's not that they regret having their children or being married, but there comes a time in everyone's life when we realize that time and attention are finite resources, and some people do not have a full grasp of this concept until they are already knee deep in the cement of their own lives. I'm getting to the age where I can start to feel cement harden around my own legs. There is now a fire that burns inside me whenever I sit down to write, a sharp sense of urgency. There is some truth about the world that I desperately need to expose, and it's something I think about with every waking breath. This is why, when people ask me about marriage and children, I have nothing to offer other than a shrug. You might as well be asking me about when I plan on landing on the moon.
I desperately want to make a connection to the world through my writing in the same way that most people are desperate to find that sort of connection in a significant other. It's been years since I could say that I had a zealous passion for anything, and the only thing I can think about is the process of writing, because I am terrified that the even the slightest distraction will extinguish this newly kindled lust for life. Maybe someday I will meet a girl who inspires the same kind of feelings that I have for the written word, but until that day comes I am going to keep my head down and continue the hone the craft that I feel I was put on this Earth to do. You can call it a fools love, but it burns with the same ferocity of any Shakespearean romance.