Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Let Life Begin

[apologies for wonkiness - and copiedness-from-comments-boxness-ness - i have a baby on my lap. will attempt to come back later and tidy up a bit]

Lucy's talking about a list of things to do before she's 40. I'm going to be four decades long in only three weeks, and the very thought of such a list makes me want to jump back under the duvet and not emerge for at least another month.

But I have a good excuse: I (possibly rather sillily with hindsight, but there you go, I had little control over the timing) went and had a baby when I was 39, and that rules out most pre-40 excitement.

I was thinking last night, though, that although I disapprove of age-related moaning, a lot of my recent miserablism has been exacerbated by pre-40 jitters. I feel as though I'm about to be Officially Old and haven't achieved a whole load of stuff that's only going to get harder - if not impossible - with age.

I'm having running battles with myself these days about a giant banner I've erected above my psyche. It reads Failed Writer. My second book is only available in Russian. My first book is barely available at all. Neither of them are much good. And crucially I'm about to stop writing altogether, before I manage to finish my third.

It's all bollocks, for many reasons: I'll return to writing in the future, the Russians are perfectly capable of being discerning readers, and crucially writing is something that tends to mature with age, not get harder. There are few skimpy bikinis involved in the life of your typical writer. But still. I'm not where I wanted to be, where I thought I'd be.

But still but still. It's basically bollocks. So I gave me a good stern talking to and reminded myself that life begins at 40 and there's a load more excitement ahead. So that's all right then. And fuck lists.

Here's my list of things I'll do before I'm 40.

1. Whinge.
2. Cry.
3. Whinge a bit more.
4. Sob.
5. Eat cake.
6. Nurse a crying baby.
7. Eat chocolate.
8. Make a massive To Do list containing items like "sort out broadband" and "hem trousers" and "make a squillion doctors' appointments for every member of the family".
9. Eat chocolate cake.
10. Fail to do any of the items on the To Do list.
11. Fail to do any of the items on this list, and then get swallowed up in a giant existential feedback loop.
12. Cry.


Lane Mathias said...

Now that's a list I like. I'll do all those things before I'm 50 - except the baby one:-)

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

I'll just stick to the eating of chocolate, that's something I have no problem doing.

Jen said...

Mmm. Yes. You're right to worry. It's grim, this 40 business, grim I tell you. Oh, hang on. No it's not. And I was too busy being a failed loads-of-things to even make a list. See? I even failed at that.

But yeah. Have a little cry. The cake plan's good. And achievable. Then get a grip (ie have a little lie-down and more cake). It's good. No, really. You've achieved loads. I know these things, see? So there.


JoeinVegas said...

Sorry, but it does sound like you have done everything on the list. Except for 11 & 12, so it's kind of a mixed thing then.

Beth said...

Achievable! That's the kind of list I like. Nice one.

JoeinVegas, just 'cause you've done something before doesn't stop you doing it again!

You're not a failed writer. (I know you say this but I just wanted to reiterate.) And your first book is fab. I loved it.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Lane, Debs and B, this is clearly the key: an achievable list.

In fact, I think this may be The Secret To Lists, the Life and Everything:
1. Make a list.
2. Make sure the list includes "crying" and "eating cake".
3. Make sure the list contains no other items of any significance.
4. Cry.
5. Eat cake.

Spiralskies, are you some kind of seer? You know so much! ;) You're right of course, I have achieved stuff. It seems like an awful long time ago, but there was stuff, I'm sure there was.

Joe, yeah, I've done it all already, but that's got to be a good strategy for list-making in general, right? Make a list of stuff you've already done?

B, thank you so much for liking my book. The weird thing is, bloody tons of people loved it. It was all just such a long time ago, and I have the memory of a flea.

Karen said...

Oh dear, is it wrong to laugh at this? Sympathetically of course.

Put "make people smile" on your list, and you'll have succeeded :o)

(Found you via SpiralSkies blog)

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

It's definitely not wrong to laugh! I was hoping people would. Hello and welcome. :)

Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel any better (or worse) in running (running races I mean) terms you've already been a "veteran" for the last 4 years...

I once remember someone saying how they had been looking forward to 65 so they could get their free bus pass, only to discover they could have had one when they turned 60.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm saying.... I was aiming for helpful but it appears that I'm saying "don't worry you've been old for years" ...

I'll get my coat...

Apologies for the anonymous, I can't seem to convince it to let me post any other way, Andrea.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

So I missed the boat! I've been old for years and now I need to run to catch up! OK then. I'll do that.