I’m a misfit, always have been. I’m equal parts dreamer, pragmatist, gypsy, homebody, mischief maker, and father. I’m just as happy working on the land covered in mud as I am promoting books at a convention. My musical tastes range from Concrete Blonde to Merle Haggard to Art Tatum. I’ve never felt at home anywhere except with my children, and when I love, I love with all I am. I’m laid-back and easy going, until something pisses me off, and then you’ll see my Scots-Irish heritage. I’m thick-skinned and sensitive, prideful and humble, stubborn and reserved, all stuffed inside one hard head and tender heart. Some days, it’s exhausting just living with all these complexities.
I’ve paid my dues and been through my fair share of adversity. I don’t want anyone’s pity, but sometimes, I damn sure could use a hug. I’m trying desperately hard not to grow bitter and cold because I’d rather learn and grow, but each time life knocks me down, that gets a little harder. I’ve nearly given up on finding my partner but don’t want my love to wither away. I’m perfectly capable of caring for myself and don’t need anyone to do anything for me, but it would be so nice to have someone to share things with. That said, right now, I can’t even imagine having another committed relationship because I have too much healing to do.
Sitting here at 39, mulling these thoughts, I’m equally hopeful and terrified. My writing career seems finally to be gaining some traction, and the foundation of my platform is solid, so for the first time in many years, I sense real progress in my career. I’m also hopeful that I’m on the right path to heal my wounds. Living alone, focusing on work, and taking time to sort through myself is the right step, but I’m terrified of never getting there, of waking up 20 years from now used up and alone. Maybe that fear is just a product of the pain I feel today, but that doesn’t make it any less real.
On Saturday, I was on a panel called “The Writing Life,” and we discussed the day in, day out of crafting stories, but we didn’t discuss this side. The complexities of personality and sacrifices of personal life it takes to be a professional novelist. Some people are lucky enough to have a supportive partner with them on their journey, so their experience is different from mine, but I know that what makes me a writer is also what makes me hard to live with sometimes. There’s a great line from the song “Nowhere Road” by Steve Earle and Reno King about being a musician, but I think it applies equally to any art: “But there’s a toll to pay / so if you’re going / the keeper of the gate is blind / so you best be prepared to pay.” That pretty well sums up my feelings on where I am in my life today. I’ve chosen this road and am paying the toll to get across. While I wouldn’t change anything, some days I question whether the sacrifices will ever be worth it. But like I said at the beginning, I’m a misfit. This is who and what I am, so either accept me as I am or don’t waste my time.