Another year older

So today is my birthday and it’s been a really quiet one. I watched The Vow (in amongst the other soppy movies and all the junk food) and there was something about it that resonated quite strongly with some thoughts and feelings I’ve been having lately.

Life is made up of moments. The moments that change you forever, that define where your life goes from that infinite second of possibility onwards. The moments that affirm your life, that make you realise you are exactly where you should be in the here and now. The moments that remind you that you’re only human, that you’ve made mistakes but that everything that’s happening is only serving to confirm your inner strength.

I guess I always thought I had those moments planned out. Not exactly, obviously, but I thought by now I’d have had that moment where I’d fallen in love and married. I thought I’d have experienced the amazing moment of looking into my child’s eyes. I thought I’d maybe feel older, more responsible, have some sort of life-affirming “you are a grown up now” moment. None of that has happened.

Something happened this week that made me question how you know when one of those moments has hit you. I went to a novel writers’ group. It was the first time and there were only 4 of us there because of the holidays but of the 4 of us I’m the only one that’s actually got books out there for the public to buy. Right up until then it was a hobby for me, a struggle to fit in around my day job. It’s something I adore doing but can’t rely on to pay the bills. Whenever I get a great review I get crazy excited and grin like a loon for a couple of hours but then I crash back into reality and have to get on with whatever I was doing before. They were asking me how it feels, what it’s like to actually put stuff out there, and I just smiled and said that when you get an email from a stranger saying how much they loved your book it’s a feeling like nothing else on earth. It’s so…joyful.

The guy sat next to me said “wow, you actually have fans!”. I’d never thought of it in that way before. I have fans. It’s such a weird, alien and unexpected concept that I’m still a bit confused about it two days on. That first stranger email, the first confirmation that actually my dreams aren’t so misguided after all, should have been an impact moment. It should have taken my breath away. Instead, I actually can’t remember the moment…there have been several emails, several contacts through social media. Each one has given me so much delight, but I never actually understood the depth of them, that I was reaching out to strangers or that they were reaching out to me.

I wondered then when I would actually have a moment where I feel like I’ve made it. Will it be when I sell 1000 books? Will it be when I land a traditional publishing deal? Will it be when I see my name in a book store window? Will it be when someone writes fanfiction about my characters and I’ll know that someone has loved them enough to dedicate that kind of time and emotional investment to them? I don’t know.

I know you can’t plan for the moments in the same way that you can’t worry about them because that’s what stops them from being a moment. I guess I just hope there are a lot of those moments, the kind that take my breath away.

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