MEMORY AND REALITY
I've been cleaning up my office all day, in preparation for taking stuff over to our storage unit. I'm a pack rat and I've got stuff from when I was five years old still in my office.
It's just kind of odd. Suddenly, you wake up one day and you're 37 not 7 or 17 and maybe you're not quite sure how you got there. I don't know about you, but memories of high school can be so vivid that there are days when you look in the mirror and you see the wrinkles and worry lines and you wonder if you just forgot the time in between. I'm still a kid, you say, but your face doesn't reflect that. And with that thought comes the other thought: I'm going to die someday.
And it doesn't bother you quite yet, but it bothers you just a niggling bit, because it's true you could get hit by a bus tomorrow and all the stories you want to tell and all the people you want to meet and all the people you've met and love, all that's just history. And you begin to wonder about why you write, and you realize once again that your writing is like your children and your legacy interwoven. And it sounds pretentious because it is, but death's a serious subject, so you're entitled.
How did I get from Clarion in 1992, sitting with Kristine Kathryn Rusch, telling us "sometimes puppies get stuck" with a smile, to having books out all over the fucking world.
In 2001, I had two books to my name, both with print runs under 1,000 a piece. in 2005, I've got books out in nine different countries and I'm gearing up for a European book tour. How does that happen? How surreal is that?
One thing is for sure, while I'm savoring it, I don't take it for granted. How can I? How could anyone?
City of Saints comes out from Bantam the end of this month. How cool is that?, the fan boy in me says.
Just yesterday it seems, I was waiting in line to talk to Harlan Ellison at a Dragon Con, shaking in my freakin' boots.
So, yes, it seems some perspective is in order as I look at all of these old, old photographs from an older, more innocent time.
There could have been nothing better than growing up in Fiji, in a tropical paradise. There could have been nothing better for a writer.
Looking at a report card now. "Confident when he knows the subject. Works well with others. But needs to be kept away from disturbing influences." Or another bit of school work: a report on the Etruscans from fifth grade. I'd apparently embossed the folder with golden letters. How the hell did I have the time?
You look at yourself as a child and you think: How did I get here? Will I look back at photos of myself at 37 when I'm 60 and again wonder: Where did the time go?
The fact of things is, we're all going to die, and it's how we all come to terms with that that defines who we are and how we're remembered. Some turn to religion, and that's all right. Me, I know we're going to all be returned to the earth, and that's all right, too.
In the meantime, you have to live life like you mean it.
And so it goes...