So today sees the release of Tempest Reborn, Jane’s final installment. Obviously, I’ve got aÂ lot of feelings over this occasion. And because I’m me, I will share them with you, in no particular order.
First of all, how the hell did I write six books? That fact floors me. I see them sitting on their shelves in my office and I think, “Who did that? Me? Surely not…” I have to touch them sometimes, to make sure they’re real. Oddly enough, I can only really remember writing the first one. I can actually feel myself sitting in my nightgown, at like five in the morning, watching the sun rise over the Firth of Forth as I typed, wondering what the hell I was even doing, in my little windowed office nook in our flat in Leith.
Secondly, I think of how my life has changed because of these books. In fact, I’m only now wrestling my life back from the purely reactive stance I’ve had since writing Tempest Rising. Please don’t misunderstand me: this is not a complaint. I love the changes these books have made in my life. But boy, did things change. I became a professor of what, to me, feels like a totally different field, even though it’s under the English rubric. But I was a critic! I studied Modernism! I wrote about other people’s writing. I was never going to write my own fiction.
Until I did.
And then I got a new job because of that fact, and a whole new career as a creative writing professor (keep in mind I’d only taken two creative writing classes in my life–one in high school and one in undergrad). I moved across the country (again) because I realized I had to take this job that offered me publication credit for my books, rather than stuck being expected to publish academic criticism, in order to earn tenure. Anyway, then I realized I had this unique job that did not exist at most schools (as Modernism did), so I couldn’t just up and leave for greener pastures every few years as I’d envisioned. Pre-Jane, as a Modernist, I was going to live all over, but mostly Europe, traveling as a visiting professor and being this total academic gypsy.
Which was probably a pipe dream, anyway, but it was myÂ pipe dream. That pipe dream ended, however, when I realized I had this great job, that let me do the two things I loved, and PAID ME FOR THEM. And that job didn’t exist in Switzerland, or Iceland, or any of the other places I dreamed of spending some time. And I couldn’t complain, obviously, because, hello, dream jobs, right? But I am also a Peeler, and a bit of a bulldog, and so I refused to give up on my dream, and I kept traveling like a crazy person and dating people overseas (always sensible) just to act like at any point I could move over there and VOILA be a gypsy again.
At some point a few months ago, I realized I’d spent the last six years reacting. I had to, obviously, to adjust to my new life as a writer, especially as someone who was completely unprepared, professionally. And while I know that the illusion of control is just that, an illusion, and I could be hit by a bus coming through my front window as I type this, I decided to live actively again, rather than reactively.
Ironically, of course, Jane helped me do that. The money I earn publishing is a nice (if not insane–don’t get your hopes up, aspiring writers!) bonus to my real salary, and with it I could move to Pittsburgh, to a lovely house I now own. I think, like Jane, I’ve decided to grow up. I don’t know what that means, yet, but I think it’s about expecting more from myself, and the people around me. It’s definitely about building a tribe in the place I live, to anchor the incredible international tribe I’ve built as a writer. And it’s about putting down roots here, in a city I’m really coming to love.
As you are probably thinking, this journey I’m on isn’t unique at all. Everyone probably goes through a reactive stance in their 20s/30s as their lives settle in. And I recognize we’re the lucky ones, those of us who are in a position to stop, dig in our heels, and ask ourselves, “what do we really want?” as opposed to living hand to mouth, never getting such an opportunity.
But it’s been my journey, and man has it been fun.
Not least because I’ve met all of you. Jane’s readers, other writers, my friends who cheered me from the sidelines when I said, “Yeah, I’m, um, writing a book. It’s about this girl…”
Y’all have been amazing. I can’t adequately express my gratitude or my humility, nor can I express how much it has meant to me over the years. To have friends and readers who care about me and about Jane, despite our imperfections and our goofy ways.
That’s the third thing. Thank you for being my tribe. My clan. My rogue bunch of misfits, with our Converse and inappropriate thoughts.
Thank you for reading. xoxoxoxo