This is what my author bio used to look like, circa early 2007:
Peter is a perpetual student and occasional writer. He lives in Brisbane with a fiancé, two cats and a never-ending thesis.
I had reason to look up the story it was attached to over the weekend – a flash piece that was among the first pieces of fiction I unleashed upon the world – and it was a profoundly weird experience. I mean, that was from February-March in 2007, which means it’s a little under six years ago, and pretty much everything in that bio was irrelivant by the time I launched this blog a few later. These days, the only things that remain in any way accurate is my name and the fact I live in Brisbane.
I’ve been kinda worrying at that thought for the last couple of days, putting it into perspective. It all feels like stuff that happened to someone else.
I mean, most days I don’t actually remember being engaged – the relationship, sure, which had good bits and bad bits, but not the engagement.
I vaguely remember asking and going to buy a ring, the conversations about the wedding that followed. The fact that it seems so distant to me these days probably says all that needs saying about why its a good thing we never actually reached the stage with vows and the cake.
My fiancé owned the cats, so they went with her. I’m not sure when that happened, exactly, but I’m pretty sure that relationship was over by the end of 2007.
My vague intentions to finish the thesis lingered for longer.
I know I was still making noise about finishing it at the start of 2009, as evidenced by the fact that I still have a tag related to academia in my tag-cloud, but I’m pretty sure that too had fallen by the wayside by the end of the year. I’d hit a point where I was no longer happy working at universities and the idea of finishing my thesis and finding an academic job filled me with apathy and unhappiness.
These days I find myself struggling to remember what life was like when I taught at uni, although I still feel a short thrill of schadenfreude every time my friends start posting about their piles of marking on twitter.
I’ve been hard on the last couple of years. I mean, really, really hard. In retrospect, that makes a kind of sense – both the relationship and the thesis were probably enormously important to my sense of self at the time.
The years that followed had some pretty shitfull experiences as well. Deaths in the family. Major health scares for my dad. Hideous, soul-destroying day-jobs. My parents habit of going overseas and almost dying in car crashes. The kind of epic, prolonged unemployment that cripples you emotionally, financially, and socially. There were a succession of years where I’d hit the end of November, look back at everything that happened, and say, “yeah, seriously, fuck this year.”
And the weird part is that I think I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
This surprises me to some extent, ’cause I’m largely caught off-guard by being happy these days. Content, sure. I got really, really good at being content in the last six years, finding ways to maintain a balance and get on with the next thing, but happy felt like something that happened to other people. My life became very, very small between 2007 and 2011. Today, in many ways, it’s characterized by abundance. Also, by a sense that I’m better at saying no, actually, this isn’t what I want.
PeterMBall.com turns four this month. I kicked off this blog on the 27th of November, 2008, and looking back over the archives November has always been a month with a certain amount of introspection.
In 2009 I was finishing up the draft of Bleed and submitting to Twelfth Planet Press, figuring out what happened next. It was a year marked by big dreams, largely ’cause I was trying to hide the panic of being out of a job for a year.
In 2010 I was largely absent while my dad had his heart surgery and I started at my old day-job, wondering what the hell had just happened to life.
In 2011, I set myself a goal for the coming year: figure out how to write while working a full-time job. It took me the better part of a year to do it, but I think I’ve got that figured out how. I’ll already have more work out in 2013 than I did this year, and I’m gearing up for another crack at redrafting my novel during the time-off I’ve got in December with the goal of finishing it by the end of February.
This year, I’m going to mark the anniversary of this blog by being thankful and making a note to myself: don’t fuck this up anymore than you have too. Life is good, you’re happy, try and keep doing whatever your doing.
Really, as life-goals go, I’m willing to call that a win.