I'm not sure I recognize the guy in the mirror. There's grey in his beard, and his hairline is starting to recede. He's not as solid around the middle as he used to be. In three short years, he'll be 40.
But he sure doesn't feel it. Not most of the time, anyway.
Maybe writers have an advantage on the aging process. It probably goes for all creative types. There's a part of us that never grows up. Kids are infamous for their conceit: their imaginations, their lies. So are we.
I create imaginary worlds, populate them with imaginary people, and devise imaginary conflicts for them to overcome. When I'm writing, I'm living in a dream world.
Escapism? Maybe. Life's tough; nobody needs to tell us that. Day jobs drain us dry, even when they're rewarding. But it's our creative outlets that keep us going, forging ahead, looking forward to that time, no matter how short, when we can block out the cares of the world for a few minutes and create.
This week I finished the third draft of my novella Yakuza Territory (sequel to Immaterial Evidence), and it's almost ready for submission. Charlie Madison is a character I've been writing about since I was a kid. He's matured over the years, gotten a little grittier, more dynamic. We can't help but evolve as we grow older.
The characters I created twenty years ago keep me in touch with that young writer, the kid inside me who refuses to age a day. I'm better at my craft now, but I have a long way to go before I'm at the level I want to be. Even so, I can afford not to be too serious about it all.
Sure, there's a lot of work involved with being a writer. But let's not forget: playtime rocks.