I’m already past the big 3 0 mark so it’s not the fright of not being a twenties person anymore. No, it’s quite different from that. It’s something more like…I’d just gotten used to being NOT a twenties person, was getting comfy turning thirty and suddenly I’m forced to realize that hey! You know what…that’s not gonna stick around forever either.
My skin is collapsing at the very thought of my birthday this year and I’m not even one of the beauty conscious people I know (and I envy and admire them because they always know exactly how to stay ageless). I would eat right if I remembered. I would sleep right too if my mind wasn’t always working in overdrive thinking and sorting out all the various stories running in my head simultaneously – the ones I’m reading, the ones I plan to read, the ones I’m writing and the ones I plan to write – all in no particular order but still very damaging. Also…I have kids. And a husband. And they all need me and love me. Sometimes they need me more than they love me. Just saying.
Recently I read a book where the heroine is turning 30 and freaking out about a frown line in the middle of her forehead – she realizes this when her mother gives her Botox injections and her dad gets her a hair stylist appointment (to color away the grays) for her birthday. Poor soul. So lucky to not have her parents. BUT…not so lucky with frown lines though.
And it got me thinking. I looked at all the characters I’ve created in the previous years to grace the pages of my books and then there were those from other authors that I liked and they were usually nice looking. Pretty girls. Handsome boys. And it didn’t matter what their features were like or if they were necessarily built fine and tall and slim – the simple youth and health of their age was what made them glow.
My own Demon is out of this world (like…literally) and Aoife is a sight for sore eyes too and I’m happy that I made them look that way because that’s how they’ll always be. Beautiful forever to look at and of course, if you give them a good personality then you absolutely land a perfect combination that will remain eternal in print for as long as the book survives.
So the question is…do we writers live through our characters then? In body and in spirit?
When I turned 30 I decided I could now write about people who were in their early twenties…new adults as the fiction market classifies them. I looked at myself and felt like yeah…this is how it feels to be young and healthy and full of energy and promise and I filled the same colors in my characters. I had only started to get comfortable in that skin when it hit me: its already time to shed that shell and crawl into a new one. Like a crab! One shell wears out its life and then he has to find a new one. I feel our bodies do something similar when they age. But I’d just got perfect at defining life at 28! I’m not ready to move onto anything above 30 yet! How do I make it stop??!!
My guess: I don’t.
This is what they call experience. I am now officially experienced to write about an age that I have lived through. And that’s a very, very happy thought. Finally, I’m mature enough to write about something without any qualms about it, thinking: Oh…is this how it feels? Really? I now know how it feels to be 22 or 26 or 28 or even 30 because I’ve lived through it. I’m not nervous about its authenticity.
And on a more personal level, I’m pleasantly surprised at myself intellectually. Okay, I was freaked at first to be honest but I think this is good. I can appreciate poetry, music and analogies I never could before. I understand reactions and issues I never had the time or patience or permission from my brain to stop and pay attention to because I was too young. Now, I don’t have to miss out on all that goodness anymore.
So happy birthday to me. And as for my not so glowing skin…I’ll take my BFF’s advice: Go to a spa!!!! :D
I will and be the fine wine she always describes me to be. Thanks babe! Love ya ;)