Tomorrow I turn 42, and right now I feel every year of it, although that might just be the Gulf oil crisis aging me. Every day, I can feel that torrent in my head, and if I have one birthday wish it’s just that I want them to stop it as soon as possible.
Truly, though, I’m a battle-scarred squid at the moment, worn down by too many deadlines but with the promise of a respite soon to come. I’m also officially transitioned from young turk to old fart. Ages of writers are relative to the amount of time they’ve spent in the trenches. I’ve been in this business one way or another for about 25 years, and it’s long past time to make the transformation.
What does this mean in practical terms? It means you’re less likely to see me passionately making a point somewhere on the internet and much less likely to look outside and see me absent-mindedly watering your azaleas, or having conversations with myself in my car, or forgetting not just your name but how I know you. (Sometimes, though, that’ll be because of the other symptom of old fart-itis: not giving a damn.)
Now, I forgot to do my yearly update back in Feb-March, which is when, three years ago plus, I became a full-time writer-editor. At least, I think I forgot–I might’ve forgot that I remembered. So let’s make this a State of the Union speech.
State of the Union. Hmm. Let’s see. Already mentioned battle scars, old fart transition. What’s left? Oh yeah. Okay, so, despite my bitching I’ve had the opportunity to work on two amazing projects: THE WEIRD, with Ann as co-editor and co-conspirator, which in my biased opinion will be the greatest fiction antho ever published, and THE STEAMPUNK BIBLE, which delights me because of discovering so many fascinating creators and because I’ve never done a coffee table book before, and because my co-author, S.J. Chambers has saved my ass on the project quite a few times.
What other projects almost killed me this past six months but feel like something special? Steampunk Reloaded, most definitely, which features, among a plethora of awesomeness, my summoning of the Mecha-Ostrich to bring forth a tale about an artist’s commune pre-1900 and the tragedy that unfolded there.
So, it’s not really bad being an old fart. I mean, after getting back from teaching at Clarion, I get to spend two months doing nothing but finishing up the project that means the most to me right now: a long novella titled “Borne” that will, for me at least, be the one work that if everything else of mine suddenly vanished, I’d be okay with that. (I’m guarding the inner details of the story with the fierceness I imagine applied to the Manhattan Project.)
As ever, I have good friends, old and new, and a wonderful wife and partner in Ann, who puts up with my curmudgeonly-ness and doesn’t mind that I’m no longer a young turk. I have amazing step-children in the form of Jason and Erin, and a lovely grandbaby. I am making all of my money from my fiction, anthologies, and teaching gigs/speaking appearances. So all of that, without thinking about the impending collapse of civilization, is very good indeed.
Oh, yes, have I noted that one other symptom of my condition is that I will ramble with no consideration for anyone reading…
Looking forward, I predict that I will continue to have the kind of lurching career that keeps me honest and hungry. I predict that I will also be kvetching on my next birthday, because that’s apparently what I do. I predict I will still be super-busy, but that, all in all, I will be content.
P.S. Buy The Third Bear. I’ll write you an apology if you hate it.