So the other day, my six-year-old got this evil/snarky grin on his face and asked to borrow my phone while I was kneeling on the ground playing with the baby. I probably should have known better, but I still handed it over. He switched on the camera and took a picture of something above me, then handed the phone back and scampered off with a giggle.
“What was that?” I called after him, without looking away from the baby.
Barely able to contain himself, he answered “I took a picture of your bald spot.”
“My bald–what? I don’t have a…” And there it was, staring right up at me from my (phone type.)
And that’s when it hit me. I’m not in my twenties anymore. Or even in my thirties.
It goes by so fast. And now I’ve got a bald spot.
But let me change gears for second…
Every year on New Year’s Eve (before opening any bottles) I spend some time with a notebook writing down some specific goals for the coming year.
Then on my birthday (again before opening any bottles) I take out my notebook and write down the major accomplishments I made in the last calendar year. I can see why people say birthdays get more depressing each year, especially if they carry any regrets. Writing down that list of accomplishments helps me focus on what I did over the last year, instead of what I didn’t do, and that helps keep birthdays awesome. Well, that, and the Horseshoe Casino.
But even with all the good stuff in the present, it’s sometimes hard to believe how quickly time slips away. I know that every time I stuff from Live, The Smashing Pumpkins, or certain GNR songs, I can’t help but getting a little nostalgic for late nineties. But it’s not only nostalgia. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I have some regrets. We all do, right?
So where do bald spots and regrets fall into writing?
Well, think about what writing fiction actually is. It’s really just taking your fantasies and memories and putting them onto paper. That means take your nostalgia–take your regrets too–and use it. If you wish it was still 1997, go back there. If you don’t like the person you used to be, go back and become the person you wish you would have been. If you look back at a certain period of your life and wish it could have lasted forever, then bring it back. Live those fantasies and put them on paper.
That is what writing is all about.
And then when you’ve gotten everything out of your system and used your past to write some great fiction, then come back and live in the present.
Because the present is a pretty freaking great place to live.