I do some of my best thinking when I’m walking (or in the shower or just waking up in the morning). This past Sunday—my birthday—was no different. As I chugged around the paths without my iPod to entertain me, I started pondering all the things I wish I would have known before they’d happened. Not that I’d want a magical black dress like the one in Little Black Dress that gives its wearers glimpses of the future—both good and bad—but it would’ve made for a lot less worrying if I’d been able to foresee just a few bits and pieces. Perhaps I could have handled myself better in uncomfortable situations and faced uncertainty with more confidence.
So without further ado, some of the things I wish I'd known back when:
1. I would have appreciated hearing that, after I got out of college and wrote a book a year for ten years (all of them now stored in my linen closet!), someday I would indeed be writing full-time and have my fair share of deadlines. It would’ve saved me the trouble of dealing with naysayers who, at the oddest times—like at my grandmother’s funeral—would approach and ask, “You’re not still writing, are you? When are you going to hang it up?” I could have just given them the finger and walked away. Instead, I only gave them the finger in my head, which is not quite as satisfying.
2. It would have been rather comforting to know that it never gets easier. Writing novels, I mean. Every one takes something out of me, and every one begs to be written a bit differently. So as much as I learn from finishing (and revising) each manuscript, I always feel like a rookie, starting from scratch with each subsequent book.
3. Right out of college, when I thought going blond was a great idea, I would have appreciated a heads-up that no, it doesn’t look good on everyone, especially when your eyebrows are a really dark brown and your also dark-brown roots grow in really fast. I could have saved a lot of money and time on hair appointments. Although that dark roots/light hair look is pretty popular these days. I should have hung in there for a few more decades! (Not.)
4. When I was in my 30s and still single, I would’ve loved to see a glimpse of my future and know that I would be 41-years-old before I met Ed, my husband. Then I would have been even more amused by the whispers and speculation of nosy family members, one of whom dared to inquire, “Are you a lesbian? ‘Cause if you are, that’s okay.” I told him thank you for that vote of support, but I wasn’t a lesbian, just a happily single woman who hadn’t met a man worth my undying commitment.
5. While it would not have made my life easier to be forewarned that I was going to have breast cancer at 42, I sure would’ve loved to have my crystal ball show me that, nearly five years after my diagnosis, I would be happy, healthy (knock on wood!), and still complaining about deadlines ad nauseum.
6. For most of my life, I avoided veggies. To me, Snickers was a vegetable. I was convinced that anything green was awful-tasting, akin to eating grass. When I was 40, I went on a get-healthy kick, and I realized vegetables are AWESOME. I am, in fact, a broccoli addict. So if I’d put on that magical black dress at, say, twenty-five and had a vision of myself eating mostly vegetarian in another 15 years, I don’t figure I would have believed it.
Well, since I didn’t know any of this ahead of time, I had to bumble along and figure it out for myself. Though I guess part of what makes life so interesting is muddling through and being able to look back with perfect hindsight!
What things in your writing life or real life do you wish a crystal ball could have shown you? Would it have changed anything?