You know you’ve taken a dip into the realm of fantasy when you’re editing a manuscript and one of your comments in the sidebar reads: ? maybe a word or two to signify it wasn’t a random customer? Does he mean the elf?
For some reason when I found myself making that particular comment I laughed like a loon.
I marvel at my ‘fantasy life’. I’m really talking about an elf, and the author whose book I am editing won’t think I’ve ‘flipped it’ again. She has ‘flipped it’ too.
‘Flippin’ it‘ is an occupational hazard for authors, judging from what I see on Facebook!
When I was young, in my twenties and thirties and even into my fifties, I thought sixty was old, and that I would probably be too decrepit to enjoy life once I devolved to such an old age. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover my childhood lasted through my forties, and now here I am, sixty years old and feeling like the queen of everything!
Young adulthood is a a time of living in limbo–you go to work, you get married and have kids. It’s your fertile years after all, and your biology insists you take advantage of it! In your twenties, thirties and even forties, creativity is something you pursue only in your free time, feeling guilty for taking time away from your obligations and from your children. You enjoy life, yes and you do find ways to have a satisfying and creative existence, but it’s on hold, and something in the back of your mind asks, “Is this it? Is this all there is?” You feel guilty for even thinking such a heinous thought. How could a lovely family, a good job and all the trappings of modern life not be satisfying? Of course you’re going to write that book someday, but…Jackie has soccer, David has piano lessons, and you’ve a briefcase full of work to do when dinner is done. That’s if they don’t need too much help with their homework. If you fall into bed by eleven you’re doing well!
These years are the foundation years, the years of your late childhood, preparing you for the real adulthood that only begins once you are free of those responsibilities.
Life gets put on hold until that blessed day when the last child leaves the nest. On that day, your real life begins. Yes, you will still need to work, but your life has gained that one rare and beautiful commodity you never had before: free time. Time to spend doing what you want in the evening–time to paint, or time to write. Time to be selfish and no one to make you feel guilty.
Yeah, you’re glad to hear from the kids, that won’t change. You love being with them and look forward to seeing them for family get-togethers and visits, but you don’t live only for them any more.
There will be separation anxiety. It surprises them that you don’t call every hour to check on them, but they will get used to it, and even learn to accept your independence.
Eventually they will stop fearing that your not calling every hour means you’ve fallen and can’t get up. Promise them that if that becomes a valid concern, you will get a life-alert and life will go on.
They’ll get used to you traveling on your own, and making decisions for yourself. One day they will experience this part of life for themselves. They will realize they can count on you to be there when they need you, and accept that when the crisis is over, you will load your suitcase into the car and let them get on with living the first half of their lives.
You discover that you have a meaning and a purpose in your life that goes far beyond parenthood and biological imperatives, even if it’s a purpose only you and a few friends in your writing group understand.
The first half of my life I spent working three jobs and raising kids, writing only when I could, and too embarrassed to show it to anyone. Now, here I am embarking on the second half of my life, the part where my life really begins and I not only have a career that absorbs me, I get to read all I want!
Of course I’ve ‘flipped it’. I love the freedom of writing fantasy, and the pleasure of being involved in editing awesome books by amazing authors. It doesn’t get any better than that!