Dear Me of twenty years ago,
I write this at 10:48 PM (CST) on May 30, 2016 as a warning to you. Don’t give up is what I want to say, but I can’t. All I can say is try harder than you think you might be able to. Don’t get distracted, which I know is hard. You and I have always been magpies of a sort, and have always been so easily distracted by bright, pretty news blurbs and shiny tech tidbits we see in the course of our online research. Try harder to ignore those and push on with what you know needs to be done. Do your due diligence and research your subject matter, ignoring the fun that the internet brings. The ‘net is quicksand bog, and you know it as such.
And for the love of God write. Don’t get frustrated and discouraged if things don’t happen within the first two or three years. You know what hard work, and you know things don’t happen quickly. They happen with extended effort, so don’t lose sight of the future and that that future means more than a few pitiful years.
You love to write so do that and do it with the same lust and zeal you’ll use to pursue the other love of your life, Tabitha. You may not believe it, but you two will be married and will have a kid or three in your life. Do it for her as much as for yourself. She loves your stories as much as she loves you. And you love the stories too.
I would love to tell you that you’ve hit it big and people adore you and what you have to say, but if I did, I’d be lying. You’re an accountant still, and you’re not miserable, but you aren’t happy either. It takes a lot to admit this, but I, you, us, whatever, haven’t written anything in close to six months. A paragraph every other week isn’t writing and I know it. I’ve failed us, and though I’m sure I’ll be told I haven’t, I feel I have. This letter to you is a warning, no, it’s a confession more than anything. The fire that is the love of writing isn’t gone, but it’s not quite a bright ember either. Life has ground me down, and I’ve let it get there.
Life, death, birth, debt, hunger, rent, loss are a daily enemy that I have let wear me out. I look see you, so proud, happy, and full of hope smiling at me in a picture of old that had to write to you as a warning. I vaguely remember that kid, and yes, you are a kid, but I know you wanted so much to get your stories out that at times you told them in your sleep. I don’t talk much in my sleep these days. Usually I waste my nights in bed worrying about helping Chris pick the right college, or affording art classes for Emily or piano lessons for Sarah. I do this until I fall asleep only to wake up angry at the loss of restful sleep and resentful that I have to go to work at a job that hardly pays the bills.
Writing doesn’t pay the bills either, but it is wonderful, and I’ve misplaced that love. Don’t you misplace that love, and don’t let fear rule you. Fear will cause you to dodge opportunities that will help you hone your writing and make connections to be the writer you want to be. You’ll let fear do this to you because you’ll care to much about what people you’ll never meet might have to say to you. If might be good, but you’ll convince yourself it will be bad and you will sabotage yourself, your craft, and your love. You’ll set your jaw in that way that Tab finds cute and grunt that you don’t give a fuck what people think, but you and I both know that’s a lie. You do care. You care and it scares the hell out of you. Ignore that fear, and move forward anyway. People won’t always like you and their disapproval and negative feedback, be it true or not, won’t kill you. Regret will, though. Regret will rob you of that love and fire for writing. Don’t fall to fear because fear will always bear a bastard child named Regret.
Well, I’ve said enough, and wasted enough time. I’ve told you a bit about your future, paradoxes and the like be damned. The important thing is stay determined, stay focused, and when someone offers you a partnership on a website or two, take it. Don’t be a magpie this time.
41 years old Jason