Rambling Thoughts Upon Reaching Old Fart Status

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.

24 comments on “Rambling Thoughts Upon Reaching Old Fart Status

  1. Larry says:

    You know, I misread part of what you said. I thought you said “and much less likely to look outside and see me absent-mindedly blowing on a vuvuzela“. Which, might, if that were to occur, be both the strangest and funniest thing to encounter!

    July’s a good month for birthdays, anniversaries, and of course, revolutions. Enjoy yours to the best of your failing ability, old fart ;)

  2. Natania says:

    Happy (early) birthday! And hey, 42 is a pretty awesome number, y’know? Maybe you’ll figure out all the answers. Or figure out that there are no answers. Or something. :)

  3. LOL. I’m not looking for answers. I’m trying to find my bifocals. Thanks.

  4. Charles Tan says:

    Happy birthday sir! It’s the future here, so…

  5. TNT-Tek says:

    Well then, I guess it’s nice to know I have a ways to go before I become an old fart myself. I was feeling quite over the hill at only 31… I’ve bought The Third Bear and cannot wait for it to arrive.

  6. Average Jane says:

    Happy shared birthday! Sadly, I’m turning a year older than you are.

  7. Anne S says:

    I wish I was 42 and not my REAL “old fart” age some decades ahead of you. Still I can verify, life gets better the older you get, believe me. Happy Birthday Jeff, you young thing you.

    BTW wasn’t 42 the answer to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything?

  8. Conschobhar says:

    Happy Birthday! Just got The Third Bear in the mail this evening, and I’m about to tuck in and read it.

  9. Skandalouz says:

    Happy pre-birthday! 42 is the one of the LOST numbers, right? :D

    I turn 28 tomorrow :D

  10. Kenny Cross says:

    Happy Birthday sir! One problem with being 42 (which I turned last October) is that the brain still thinks you are a young Turk while parts of your body start to fall off while you are walking down the street. I can’t wait to read THE THIRD BEAR.

  11. Nemone says:

    Happy Birthday,Master Squid!Damn,i’m too late to be witty abt the number 42.But perhaps this is a year of answers for you(other than “where are my glasses”On top of your head”).This year,i fell in love with Ambergris and i am looking forward to all the new anthos(weird,Steampunk,more Steampunk),bears and,now that you have revealed its wondrous existence, Borne.
    May your tentacles be long and supple,for as long as you wish to hold the pen.And after,too.

  12. J. T. Glover says:

    Hey there, old feller! Hope you have a happy one and enjoy your transition to senescence and (not?) yelling at people to stay off your lawn. You’ve had a heck of a year, and we get to reap the bounties in the coming one. Happy Birthday!

  13. Paul Smith says:

    Happy Birthday Jeff.

    I haven’t had any luck with the genetically engineered VanderMeerkats yet, but I continue at it hopefully for your next.

  14. Ty Johnston says:

    Turned 41 just a few weeks ago, so I feel your pain. My mind is still running pretty fresh (despite what my other half says), but the body is slowly breaking down. Little things like a sprained ankle used to be laughed off and forgotten in a few hours; now, a sprained ankle lays me up for a few days or even a week.

  15. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Thanks all! Happy birthday Skandalouz.

  16. Ben says:

    Happy late B-day, Jeff.

  17. Nin Harris says:

    A belated happy birthday, unless it’s still your birthday, I can’t figure out because of the time zone difference. 42 seems like an awfully wise age, especially for a cephalopod ;)

  18. Mike says:

    If you don’t have hemorrhoids yet, you’re still a kid.

  19. Happy Birthday and I look forward to your ramblings….LOL!

  20. Jetse says:

    Belated Happy Birthday, Jeff!

    Sorry that you and Anne couldn’t make it to the Netherlands: the World Cup fever is insane right now.

    I will buy The Third Bear, but please excuse me as I’m a nervous wreck until the Sunday World Cup final, and very much hung over on the Monday irrespective of the result…;-)

    Hup Holland Hup!

  21. Jeff VanderMeer says:


    Hey–me too!!! Nervous.

  22. Hellbound Heart says:

    42 is old fart?? that’s me in november!!!!! EEEK!!!!

  23. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! Depends. How shop-worn are ya, Hellbound?

  24. Hellbound Heart says:

    i’ve got a few miles on me but all parts still working….the worst part of me is my teeth…..i’ll be pushing 50 and i won’t have a tooth in my head! hee hee!!

Comments are closed.