Thursday, April 23, 2009

On Turning 40

So today I turned 40. I don't feel older; I don't feel wiser. I just feel tireder. The Big Four-Oh - to be honest, it was all a bit of an anticlimax. I've had more exciting naps.

Looking back (as one does at this age), I completely wasted my twenties - stayed in a dead-end job, went through a series of dead-end relationships, drank too much, and generally coasted through an entire decade. In my 30s, however, I feel that I achieved a lot and even realised some life-long ambitions.

Over the past ten years, I lived in London for a while, married a woman I truly love, had a son who makes the world a better place because he's in it. I've become a published author, written a novel (almost three, actually), made it into The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror and been nominated for (but not yet won) a couple of awards. I've made some great friends, particulrly through my writing, and met many interesting people (some of them idols of mine) along the way who have inspired me.

The world might be going tits-up at the minute, but I've done a lot this past decade. There have been both good times and bad, but thankfully the former outweigh the latter.

In the next ten years I plan to really go for it. There are still things to do, ambitions to realise and places to see. It might be interesting to see what I write here on my 50th birthday, if any of us are still here to read it.*

(*Being a miserablist, I simply had to end on a pessimistic note)


strantzas said...

It really seems most writers (Bret Easton Ellis aside) don't really begin to make something of themselves until they hit their thirties. I suspect most don't have the necessary life-experience to really tell interesting stories until then. Peter Straub once noted about his first novel, Marriages, that the characters are only superficially adult. They do adult things, but don't think or feel like adults, and he attributes that to his being barely one himself when he wrote it.

So, Gary, be glad you "wasted" your twenties, as that's the material you're mining now. You weren't wasting time; you were doing research.

Anonymous said...

I agree with that Strantzas bloke, the research was valuable, seeing as I did pretty much the same thing as you in that decade and similar things in the thirties.

Looking forward to the 50th update...

Mark said...

A good perspective, Gary and well done on all your success, that 50th report will make very interesting reading, I'm sure.

As a new recruit to the 40s club, I agree with your sentiments and having a lovely wife and terrific son certainly make things easier!

Chris said...

I think everyone wasted their 20s... I know I did, well, apart from deciding to become a publisher of course.

I just hope that when I reach 40 - in a short five years time - I have something to celebrate.

Penblwydd hapus. :)

Richard Gavin said...

A happy fortieth once again, Zed.

Whether a writer (or anyone else for that matter) wastes their twenties is a matter of opinion.
But the nice thing is, your vocation is one that you can stay in for the duration of your life. Even authors who accomplish great things during their "tender twenties" can still be hammering out great work in their "nasty nineties". It's not like being a pop singer or a matinee idol where your days are numbered. Writers can sometimes take twenty years before they even begin hitting their stride.

I fully expect you and other writers currently in our 30s and
40s to be shuffling to World Horror Cons when we're nearly dust...

Allyson Bird said...

I totally agree with Simon. I remember thinking that I have to have a life before I can actually write about it.

Happy birthday again Zed!

John L Probert said...

Many happy returns my very dear friend! You're not really a miserablist! I find a lot of your work very uplifting indeed, and certainly there's lot more optimistic about the human condition in there than the angle I tend to take, which is that cruelty and evil are the gateways to having bags of fun and making a fair bit of cash on the side. Long may you continue to live, love and write!