Today is my 35th birthday. Yes, I freely admit my age. Yes, it makes me feel slightly weird admitting it in such a public forum. Yes, sometimes I feel old, especially when my kids ask questions like “Did you have TV when you were little?” and “How did you talk to people if you didn’t have computers and mobile phones when you were little?” Sheesh, kid, how old do you think I am anyway?
Since I turned 21, I’ve spent a few quiet moments of every birthday morning taking stock of the events of the past year. Some years have been really, really great years. 25 and 28 were awesome years. Some years have been utter shite. 23 springs to mind. Most years, however, have been a mixture of good and bad and 35 falls firmly into this category.
On the plus side, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to watch my children morph into people. My daughter is outgoing but at the same time, bookish and shy. She’s developed The Man’s love of video games and my love of cooking. My son has a 77-year-old English man living inside him. He says things like “Suit yourself” and “You startled me, Mother”. He also seems to have picked up bits of my accent, pronouncing zebra as “zeb-rah”, and banana as “bah-nahn-nah”.
Other good things that happened this year include a move to a proper house with a lovely back garden, being offered a position as managing editor at my University’s student-run newspaper, purchasing my first serious DSLR camera, and the addition of two wonderfully crazy kittens to our menagerie.
Of course, the most important and best thing that happened this year was my renewal to the pursuit of publication. I’ve been living with the all-consuming desire to be an author since I was 7 years old, but it’s taken me this long to get serious about it. I’ve jumped into it with both feet – no more sticking a single toe into the pool. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m going to have to work my arse off in order to get published. I’ve also accepted the terms of publication – repeated rejections, revisions, the alienation of friends and family as I spend more time with my manuscript and less time with them, and the odd and completely unexpected reactions of people when I tell them that I’ve written more than 100 pages and 40,000 words. “Is it just gibberish or is it real words?” was something I was asked no less than three times during Thanksgiving dinner. (Just as a point of clarification, it’s an actual book I’m working on, with a plot and characters even. Thanks for your faith in me, by the way.)
Will year 36 trump both 25 and 28? Only time, dedication and a thick skin will tell. For someone who is quite used to getting whatever she wants with minimal effort, this whole Odyssey of Publication has been a learning experience. Hopefully by this time next year, I will have reached my ultimate goal of an 85,000-word manuscript, the seemingly-endless revisions will finally be complete and I will begin the process of finding an agent. Cross your fingers for me and say a prayer, too, if that’s your thing.