Out of Time

It always feels like I’m running late, that I have missed my opportunities, that if I don’t succeed right now, I never will.

Every novel that comes out makes me think, by the time mine is done, will the world have passed it by? “Sorry, but we’ve had too many of these lately. If only you’d sent us something a year ago.”

Every time a writer friend gets a book out or signs an agent, I’m happy for them, and yet also feel like someone has taken my spot. That by the time I finish my book (again) I will send it out into the world and the world will say “Gosh! If only we’d seen this a year ago.”

My novel talks about race and culture, but I worry that it does so in ways that are too specific to my generation of children of immigrants, and so perhaps it is already too late for this book, since everyone has moved on and what I wrote is now a strange sort of historical artifact.

An agent turned me down because there were so many other great South Asian writers who’d put out amazing and award-winning books recently. (To be fair, I now see that my book wasn’t ready.) Did I miss a period in time when you could be South Asian and put out something that was pretty okay? There are so many marginalized writers putting out amazing work these days–will the marketplace look at mind and say, “Sorry, but we have filled our quota. You have missed your chance.”

I’m over 40, so I’ll never be one of those “Top 40 under 40!” writers, also known as young whippersnappers. Will they say I’m too old to have a promising career?

I have a young child, and so I live in fear that I will become one of those women who had a lot of potential but never did anything with it after becoming a mother–it’s easy to see how that happens in these early childrearing years.

If only I could get the mostly-done-but-not-quite novel out now, and then I would never have to worry about never doing it.

I can tell myself over and over that this sense that I have missed my chance is bullshit, but the feeling doesn’t fade. Which in turn leads to more struggle on the novel, because if I have already missed my chance, why bother? And if I have not, well, I must rush and get it perfect NOW or else I will miss it. Forever. What a waste of potential. No pressure.

I grow old …. I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

And would it have been worth it, after all,

And in short, I was afraid.

I guess there’s nothing for it except to disturb the universe.


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