distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

Life’s Choices

Here is a photograph from my high school graduation, the day I realized I could get out of the mountains and go anywhere I wanted. (That’s me in black on the left, clearly I’m ecstatic; my beautiful best friend in high school, Esme, is in the white dress on the right.):

High school graduation
(me and Esme, high school graduation)

I left the Catskill Mountains and I never went back, except to visit. And except in my writing—Dani Noir takes place there; Imaginary Girls takes place there; and the secret novel I’m writing now also takes place there.

I wanted to be a writer then. But I had no idea—absolutely none—how hard it would be to make that come true, how many years it would take—and what it would take out of me to keep trying until I pushed through. No clue. None.

Do you ever look around at the life you chose? (Or maybe you think it chose you?) I chose mine, deliberately yet sloppily, naively yet with stubborn determination. Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to be a published author, and sacrifices to get me there be damned.

Maybe this happens when you get over [age that will not be mentioned]. Maybe then you look around and think, Is THIS where I was trying to get to?

Everything I’m doing is what I wanted it to be, and yet entirely different from how I thought it would turn out. It’s so strange. No babies. No house. No dayjob career. And all of that is okay with me. I have deep love. And these degrees I couldn’t afford. And city living. And getting books published. And making a career of being a writer, or starting to. That was my plan.

I can’t deny that I’m struggling still—and the depths of my insecurities are so low, I shouldn’t put them in words on this blog—but it occurs to me that I am who I set out to be. When Imaginary Girls comes out next year, I think I will be. I think that’s the moment it will feel real to me. Maybe I’ll feel good about all my choices then.

Here I am, age 17 I think, on a school field trip to a museum in New York City, where I vowed to one day move. We snuck out to a playground nearby and tried the slide. I’m on the right, sunglasses and thrift-store man’s vest and jacket on, my whole life ahead of me:

Slide in NYC
(Keri and me, goofing off on a slide somewhere in NYC)

Would I do it again the way I did? Probably not.

I’d do it differently—but I’d still do it.

But I’m here now. With my soulmate, doing what I wanted in the city where I thought I wanted to live since I was five. How odd.

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8 responses to “Life’s Choices”

  1. This post made me a bit emotional! (And no, I’m not drunk.)

    Isn’t it funny the way things turn out? The important thing is that you GOT THERE, and that’s no easy task.

  2. I’m 33 and, for a long time, I felt like this (publication, agent, being able to call myself a writer) was a dream. I’m always envious of people who are willing to take a chance, be it getting a degree or moving away from home, to get what they want.

    But I don’t feel like I’ve wasted time, you know? The way I write now, the stories I come up with, would not have come 10 years ago. Maybe even 5 years ago.

  3. It’s funny how insecurities can sometimes control our lives. When I see some of your tweets about how you were brilliantly up until something insignificant passes by crumbling your mood, I can’t help but smile. Those odd moods strike me too. And I equate it to be a little less secure of who I am.

    I absolutely love writing and definitely know I have a knack for it. I’m happiest when I’ve written for several hours in a day, when I could dive into my imagination and just flow with it. Unfortunately that was a part of myself I denied when I became a mother, I set those “childish hobbies” aside and parented. Thankfully I never fully let it all go because her bedtime stories consisted of something read and something invented. Now, I am making a huge push for this rediscovered passion of mine. I set the bar very high and won’t accept anything less.

    As for my life choices, yes, I regret one. But I don’t know if I would change things. It is what it is and it’s happened the way it has. I think regret over lost time is wasted energy better used elsewhere. Unless of course, you use it in your work!

  4. Great post! I look at my life often. Some choices were beyond my control, some I would change – but it’s all made me who I am. And, I am still making choices. Life is an adventure!

  5. I think this stuff all the time. When I started out determine to write it was like a choice for rebellion … and it’s crazy to think where the world has gone in the many years it took between that decision and eventual success … the internet! YA! It’s important to look back esp when self doubt comes a’creeping – but oh how lovely to be a teenager and think ‘New York’!
    cheers for the great post!

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