A Would-be Novelist Looks at Forty

Do not write to make a living; write to make living worthwhile. –Robert Fulghum (What on Earth Have I Done?)

With apologies to Jimmy Buffett for the title of this post, I turn 40 on Saturday.

Based on everything I’ve heard up to now, I should expect any or all of the following:

  • a mid-life crisis that forces me to buy a Corvette or some other masculinity affirming vehicle or device
  • body breakdowns that are not too dissimilar to the automotive breakdowns one experiences the day after the warranty of the aforementioned masculinity affirming vehicle expires
  • tears; lots of tears.
  • the sudden dawning of the realization that I no longer understand those doggone young’uns and their crazy music

In truth, I have exactly one regret about turning 40, and that’s the fact that I haven’t finished the second draft of my novel. I finished the first draft way back in October of 2009, when I was still a young man.

It’s not that I’m no longer interested in the story. Nor is it that I find the rewrite process difficult. The problem, as unfortunate as it is, is time.

The novel is a personal project, something I’m doing for my own pleasure. I also have a full-time job writing for a living, a family, a lawn to mow, and dozens of other things to do on a daily basis. So I put off the rewrite.

And put it off some more.

Partly in celebration of my 40th, I’m taking a week’s vacation next week. I have made a resolution to myself that I will spend every night that week working on the rewrite, as much time and energy as I can possibly muster will be devoted to it.

I’ve already started flexing my non-technical writing muscles in anticipation. For example, yesterday I wrote my wife a love poem for her own birthday.

The quote at the beginning of this post is from one of Robert Fulghum’s writing memoes to himself. He posted it at his desk to inspire him to write and to remind him why he does it. After I presented my wife with the love poem, I suddenly understood the post-semicolon portion of that quote.

And so, upon my 40th, I will not only write for a living, but also write to make living worthwhile. Onward.