Monday, December 11, 2006


I'm afraid I'm going to get introspective here, but I'll try to do it in a funny way.

I've come to the realization that my life seems to be in some kind of transitional mode at the moment, where I'm between a lot of things, not entirely out of one phase but not having yet entirely settled into the next phase. It's nothing major like a change of location, career or marital status. More like a bunch of little things all coming at the same time. Career-wise, I guess I'm sort of in transition, too. I've finished the bulk of the work on books from my last contract but don't yet have a new contract. There's still some revising and editing to do on the last books, and of course all the work that comes once the books are published, but my future is still unsettled. I have a feeling they'll buy more books from me, but nothing is set in stone, and the things I'm working on are proposals to see about getting another contract. Nothing is anywhere near ready to submit yet (it's all still handwritten in spiral notebooks), but I realized last week that there will be no point in submitting anything even to my agent until after the holidays. She's taking off as of the 15th, and I'm not going to send her something right before then and give even the slightest indication that I expect her to work over the holidays. I initially thought I'd rush and hurry to get something to her, but then decided to take my time to make it really, really good. But that also means my status will remain unsettled into the next year.

Meanwhile, I think I'm in a state of social transition, where I'm growing away from one group of friends but haven't yet really found a new group that fits me better. I've lost a lot of my closest friends recently. One permanently lost due to death, and others less permanently lost but still more distant because they moved away. I'm good with the long-distance friend thing, but it's not the same as having someone you can go out to dinner, shopping or movies with whenever the mood strikes you. Finding new "best friends" as an adult can be a challenge because everyone's pretty much settled into their life grooves. Your best bet is finding someone else who's also in transition.

As for the broader circle of friends, I was at a party last night with some people I hadn't seen in a while, and I was feeling bad about having been out of touch while also getting the feeling that I didn't fit so well into the group anymore. I know I'm bad about pulling disappearing acts. It's not something I usually do on purpose. It starts when I miss attending group gatherings or meetings, or posting on message boards or e-mail lists, for a while due to various reasons -- sickness, being out of town, schedule conflicts, deadlines, general life busyness. Then next thing I know, I realize I've been absent for weeks to months, and I feel bad, like I'm a bad friend for not saying or doing anything in all that time. And then I remember that the Internet, phones, snail mail, etc., work in both directions and realize that in all this time, I haven't heard from anyone else, either. I've managed to successfully vanish from people's lives without anyone noticing, saying anything or even checking to see if I'm okay. That tends not to make me overly enthusiastic about getting back into the swing of things with those groups, so I just move on. Yeah, I know, it's very passive-aggressive of me to just let things slide that way instead of doing something about it, but at the same time, am I really and truly "friends" with people who don't notice when I go away? Of course, that kind of approach can get wacky when the other person is also feeling not noticed, and you're both sitting there being silent and resentful and waiting for the other person to say or do something.

There may be something to all those seven-year itch theories, because I tend to go through this kind of thing every seven years or so. It often coincides with changing jobs or changing churches, and for whatever reason, everything else starts to change at the same time. Maybe that's a holdover from my military brat upbringing, where you're forced to change absolutely everything in your life every few years. I don't know if I get restless with stability and subconsciously do something to upset it, or if I never learned the skills for sustaining things for longer than a few years. Physically moving is a real pain, so it's easier to change everything but my house. It's also entirely possible that the others are the ones growing and moving away from me while I'm stagnant. They're the ones with new jobs, new significant others, new children and new homes while I'm in pretty much the same place I've been for a very long time, other than maybe being a little more famous these days (and I do mean "a little").

Not that this is really about being gloomy and feeling sorry for myself. I must admit that while there's a bit of a pang of sadness for what I leave behind, I'm mostly excited about the idea of what might lie ahead. I like meeting new people and getting into new groups. Meanwhile, I'm getting nostalgic for some groups I feel like I let slide unintentionally, mostly out of all that busyness and the fact that the things that brought us together in the first place are less relevant to our lives now. But the distance has allowed me to fully realize the value they brought to my life, and I don't want to let that go. Maybe sometimes a little distance to allow yourself the chance to re-evaluate your relationships every so often is a good thing. You can clear out the things that were just there because of inertia while realizing what you really miss out of the things that mean something to you.

And sorry, that didn't turn out to be funny at all. I think I'm going to go take a walk, since it's relatively warm and sunny today and I think that will help the weird mood. Then I want to get to work. Tonight I may finally get my Christmas decorations up.

You know, this might make for an interesting topic to explore in a novel, if I can figure out how to make it funny and give it a plot. See, this is where ideas come from. Years from now, you may be able to read a book by me and recognize that you saw the very beginnings of me thinking about this issue.

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