It’s been a busy couple of months here at stately Grayson-Coats manor. A lot going on. Like, a lot a lot.
Jimmy and I spent a few weeks furiously planning the wedding. We have a tentative date (Oct 12th), and we pretty much have our colors (grey and purple) and the overall flow of the ceremony, as well as our attendants selected. Our priest has agreed to marry us (which I something I never thought would be possible, but that’s the Episcopal Church for you), and we’ve decided to get married at the actual church, which will be amazing. The next step is to call the church and schedule an appointment with the priest and also whomever we need to talk to to actually book the church and that has been on my to-do list for like six weeks now and I … just keep forgetting to do it? This is not a ‘he has mixed feelings so he’s dragging his feet’ thing, which I can forgive you for thinking. It’s a ‘the church office is only open until noon every day and by the time I remember I should call they are closed’ thing. I did put it on my LifeUp! To-do list so it should happen soon, hopefully tomorrow. I hear you. Get your shit together, Chad.
We both started school January 16th, and that has been an adjustment for both of us. I love my classes. I love the process of doing art the same way I love the process of writing, which is a good sign for my longevity in this pursuit. Originally, I was just going to get a certificate in Digital Art and Design, but now I’ve decided to get a whole-ass AA in Art. Specializing in Digital stuff, but also pursuing drawing and painting.
I am finding myself having to forgive myself for being a beginner in this. It took me 46 (at least) years to get somewhat good at writing. I’ve been doing art for a month. Less than, actually. I know how I want things to look, but my skills have not developed to the point where they come out like that. This is as it should be! If things were feeling too easy, I wouldn’t be learning. I’m getting good grades on all my assignments. I am exactly where I should be. But there’s a part of me that is like ‘I need to demonstrate immediate mastery of every new skill I try, or I am a loser. I am the only one this applies to.’ I need someone to sit next to me and spray me with water every time I say something self-deprecating. (Yes, I have been working on this in therapy). I will probably start sharing some of my art soon, probably on my Instagram account.
But I love being in school again. I like being on campus and sitting in class and working on a new set of skills. I’m into the whole thing. (Could academia be my kink?) I’ve started to make friends with my fellow students, many of whom are my age or older. Also, maybe this is news to you, but art seems to attract a lot of queer people? Who knew? Anyway, I love every part of this except getting up for 8:00 classes. Like, who invented 8:00 classes? They need to be punished.
And while I have turned my attention to art school, I have not neglected my writing. It is still my first love, and my primary vocation. I scheduled myself three days a week for writing. I write 2500 words every writing day, which gives me 7500 words a week or 30,000 words a month (at least). In January, I met this goal, even though I took a week off because I got sick (influenza can die in a fire), and I am on track for February too. I was a little afraid that my mental energy would fail me, but art and writing, while both creative, don’t use the same parts of my brain, so doing a lot of one doesn’t exhaust my capacity for the other. I have six days a week I work at either school, or writing both, and I take Sundays mostly off. I’m extremely glad I quit working at the library because that would not have fit into this schedule, despite the fact that I don’t have class the day I usually worked.
I’m almost finished with the rough draft of ‘World Enough and Time,’ my sci-fi romance that started with a silly idea and has gotten surprisingly deep. I have my next few projects lined up. Actually, I made a list of all the books I have solid ideas for, and it was, I shit you not, 37 books! So, because I am a planner, I scheduled out a potential work and release schedule and this will take me thirteen years. And part of me wants to post that list of deadlines and hold myself to it, and part of me is like, no, just write the books and don’t worry about deadlines. Clearly, I need my muse to take a vacation because I don’t need any more book ideas. But it was nice to get a realistic idea of what was possible. In 13 years, I will only be 64 (I can’t believe I used only in that sentence) and that isn’t really that old by any means. There are a lot of people in my writing group who are older than that, and still going strong.
Overall, I’m grateful for the way my 50’s seem to be shaping up. I’m not as young as I used to be, but physically, I’m just as capable as I was when I was 30. I’ve finally figured out how my brain works and created ways to be productive. I am wholly myself with everyone in my life, no longer trapped in the closet. I have great relationships with my close family and my kids and grandkids. In October, I will marry the love of my life, and there were many times over the years I despaired of that ever happening.
I would love to get away from financial stress, and really see my career take off, but I’m not really in control of whether or not that happens. The best thing I can do is put out the best work that I can, work that I am proud of, and I have been doing that. I’m looking into ways to not go as deeply in the hole as I have been (the art degree is part of that).
I have four books lined up to publish this year, including a short story collection that will be an exclusive for newsletter subscribers. Also, Curse of the Onyx Heart, the first book in The Circle and the Shadow, and epic fantasy series. In August, I plan to release Beneath the Silent Stars, which is Broken Stars book 5. Also this summer, I’ll be sending out the short story collection, which is titled Ghosts of Exile and other Stories. And then I hope to release World Enough and Time in December. That will bring my published works up to 10.
I feel good about how things are going right now, even if things are not perfect. This is the life I have built for myself, and if I’d known it was coming during those long, dark, years, I would have realized that all the pain would one day be worth it.