I am going to be turning 25 in a month and I wanted to see what writers I admire (ie you all) were doing when you were my age, or if you are my age now, what you're doing now. I'm also curious what your life is like now too. Tell your story to me quickly? I can share mine if anyone is interested but I am posting this to learn about others.
I think I joined Fictionaut when I was 16 and have been an active user at times and a ghost at others, but I want to thank you all for welcoming me and my angsty teenage writing into your fold way back then and encouraging me and giving me helpful feedback on said angsty teenage writing.
When I was 25, in 1989, my mother fell out of a window and died, which is why the fall of the wall, which happened in the same month of my mother's death, did not really register even though I lived in Berlin at the time. I was about to finish my physics degree. My girlfriend at the time was a very tall ginger-haired Swiss girl who played piano beautifully and danced for a living. I remember her feet but not her face. I've always had a thing for feet more than for faces. A month later we split up and I married an Italian, which is where "In the nude" began (http://bit.ly/nudeInTrieste). I also began to get involved with a group of guys at CERN. One of them was Tim Berners-Lee. He did some cool things and I joined them at the start of my Ph.D. in the following year. I wasn't very conscious of my age then. I didn't feel much angst but much sadness. I cried whenever I thought of my mom's cakes. I didn't write fiction then because I was swept up and away in things that were greater than me. I wrote a journal as I have done since I was 5 (that way you produce a lot of journals and I still have them all, crazy hoarder that I am). What I did feel was ambition (to do something important on a grand scale & to become a professor, which worked out eventually though totally different from the way I imagined it would). I also felt a lot of love & I didn't really know then what to do with it. I think I poured a lot of it away. I didn't learn how to handle love until my late thirties when I had children of my own. I still don't "do love" very well, but much better than when I was 25. I don't think I could have written anything interesting then, which is why I hardly ever think back to that time. But having done so now was a joy as well as jingle-jangle in the jungle of my youth, thank you for inspiring it. I'm not sure words are the answer to anything but when you ask a question, they inevitably rise to meet our memories, or make them.
I would have to do some counting to place myself at your age, Kait, and I've never been good at math. I can say I've always wanted to write. My problem in the early days was that I was big on concept and minuscule on craft. Developing the craft of narrative architecture, character depiction, authentic-sounding dialogue--those kinds of things--has been the struggle for me as I puttered through a career as a journalist and raised a family. Retired and single now and in relatively decent health (both physically and mentally) writing is now what I do to maintain that health (both physically and mentally), whether or not anyone else gives a big cahoot. I still get deeply concerned, anxious to the point of seeing into what might be the abyss, if something I'm working on starts to sputter. I've developed enough discipline, tho, to be able to start writing where I left off before the brief hiatus (usually no more than two or three days) and feel the strength returning. Hercules might be an appropriate analogy, for, as I recall, his powers left him when his feet left the ground. At 25, I suspect, there were sufficient diversions keeping me believing I was busy being born even while merely busy killing time. At least I knew then where I was headed, albeit with little idea how to get there.
At 25, I knew two things about poems- that I would continue making them and that I would never earn a living that way. I was right on both counts.
I had met a graduate student writer who was 25 when her mom was 50 and her dad 75, so that quarter-sized number felt so important again. Like the other writer, I had enjoyed social popularity the year I was 25. I enjoyed first publication in The Quarterly and stories to follow that to print. I liked the idea of the postal carrier so much due to submitting short stories and getting some acceptances. Life can become swiftly complicated after that. I feel 29 was probably the worst leading into 30, but in my opinion it was still not my doing that led to heart breaks and aches and issues to face alone in life. No one should need to be alone in life. Now I am past 50 and for a little while 50 was a relief after 49. Longitudes and Lattitudes is a collection by Tony Sanders, my beloved, one of a very few, who died when I was 52. I get upset and invite more trauma just in thinking about it too heavily. I think 25 is a great age full of tomorrows, but be careful around anyone who thinks that death comes at 30 or who sneaks around in their supposedly private or secret pretense that they are acting in a film and you are in for it. People act on their strange currents of imagination. Be sure to be near people whose minds you like. Happy birthday, too.
I had been working in Accounting for a year — a solid, respectable job that I held for another four years that I enjoyed; it made me feel like a responsible adult, and like I was in contact with the Real World — but had yet to figure out when a Real Calling would emerge.
That happened four jobs-plus later, when I read "The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes" by Haruki Murakami, in "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman." I was like, "ok, ok, I can *want* to that ... "
The rest is history. The previous was prologue.
I was teaching high school English, but I wanted to learn how to write. Eventually I went to school for that. Back then a person could have a couple of degrees in English and still not know a thing about writing. I think it's different now, with the emphasis on revision, etc. Thank God.