A couple of hours ago, I saw my wife off on a short business trip to Northern California. Even though it was five AM, I couldn’t go back to sleep. Got some coffee going, fed the dog and let him out, and found myself in the musing mood that usually comes to me in the earliest of mornings.
I’ve been reading biographies lately. Fredrick Pohl’s The Way The Future Was, and now Sting’s Broken Music.
I think I’ve previously read just one biography, of H. P. Lovecraft, and that was at least ten years ago. I wondered why I’d done two in less than a month… maybe it’s a sign of growing maturity, or a sign, perhaps more accurately, of an awareness of my age?
Reading the stories of a Grandmaster of science fiction and a music hero of my teenage years in their own voices (I hope) helps put my own life in perspective, and helps realistically chart what I’d like to see happen next.
On the one hand, I wonder at how early in life each of these people achieved a degree of success I’ve let to see. There’s no resentment or disappointment in myself there, for Fred Pohl grew up in New York City (where the 1940’s pulp magazines in which he got his start were flourishing) and Sting was in London in the late seventies, when the musical landscape was shifting dramatically from prog-rock extravagance to wide-open punk and New Wave. Each experienced a degree of poverty that I’ve never known.
I grew up in South Orange County, California, in the early eighties… the music I would come to love had already achieved a kind of stratification of its own, and if my family struggled with money (as I know they did) care was taken to insure I was never really impacted by it. The two most successful bands I’ve been in were crippled separately by ego and lack of drive. My writing was stymied by lack of confidence and, frankly, lack of experience in the craft and in life.
I’m not saying I wish I’d suffered more, or that I’m the victim of my circumstances, poor me, boo hoo. On the contrary, I’m saying I’m the person I am, and the level of success I’ve enjoyed with my art — the amount of time and commitment I’ve dedicated to my art — is entirely of my own design.
So, here in the late half of my thirties, what’s next?
I have an optimistic attitude these days. I have my goals, and while the my loyalty to my time management tools has naturally cooled slightly from the white-hot degree of the newly converted I displayed at the end of last year, I plan to stick to… well, to the plan. This is the year to finish a book, this is the year to return to playing music. I know that issues of confidence will continue to plague me, but this is an enemy that, once revealed, is easier to combat.
Okay, I’m mused out. Time to get to it. Thanks for reading. Get going yourself!