I Won’t Apologize for My Success

Chapter 2 of Life After 30

This can’t be happening right now, Maya panics. I’m supposed to be getting a ring!

But before she says anything out loud, she takes a deep breath. 

“I don’t understand where this is coming from. I thought we were great.”

“I don’t feel like you take my writing seriously anymore. You used to. When you used to be all about writing too. But I don’t feel like I’m good enough for your expectations. Like you’re embarrassed by me.” 

“I’m not embarrassed by you. I told you, if I had the time I would have read it. But right now–”

“What’s one little poetry book to a stack of novels? You didn’t believe in me enough. Not as much as the book you just pitched for.”

“I believe in you–” 

“You believed in me. Until you started to work there. Then everything changed. I can never talk to you about writing anymore. It’s all about whether something can be sold or not.” 

“That’s not true,” Maya said weakly. 

“I can’t do this anymore, Maya. You’ve changed and I don’t think I can accept it.”

“Change is a bad thing?” 

“It’s not what I had in mind. You don’t write, you edit. You sell. You market.”

“There’s writing involved there.”

“But you do it for other people. You don’t do it for yourself. And that’s what I miss.”

There’s a pause, while all this soaks in. 

“You know how hard it is to get published. I couldn’t live that way anymore, just waiting for success, for someone to give me a change. I had to approach the writing world from a different angle and give the change to myself. And it worked for me. It could work for you too.”

They look at each other. They’ve had this discussion before. Will refused to go into publishing. To him as a writer, it was selling out.

“And if you were happy doing it, I’d be behind you one hundred percent.”

“I AM happy. It’s you that’s not happy. You’re projecting your unhappiness on me because you can’t seem to find someone to publish your book of sloppy 3rd grade poems.”

Shit. Why did she just say that? His poems were really good and she knew it. But a book of poems as a best seller? There was no way.  Plus, she was a little mad that he was ruining their celebration dinner. But she’ll feel mad later.

”Will, you know I didn’t mean that.”

“But I know you don’t believe in me.”

“Well, you don’t believe that I’m happy.”

“Whatever, if you really are happy, then you’re happy. But I’m not happy being with you anymore.”

At that, Will get up, throws some cash on the table for his beer.

“I already moved my stuff out while you were at work. I’m staying at Dylan’s.”

***

Less than an hour later, Maya was back at her apartment. Her now half-empty apartment.

The closet was half-empty, the bathroom cabinet was half-empty, and now the bed was half-empty. 

The main living area was pretty much untouched. All the furniture was hers except the writing desk Will had since they were in college.

Wow, that seemed like a long time ago now.  

They met in their Junior year of college in a creative writing class. They were both English Majors. He wrote poems and she wrote short stories. They bonded over their writing and enjoyed talking about their favorite authors. 

After graduating and a couple years in the real world trying to get published, they both had little luck. There were the occasional magazine publishes. But they both had to take up jobs to bring some sort of money. 

Maya began waitressing and babysat a few kids in their apartment complex. Will was a bartender at night. It was enough for both of them to contribute to the rent, but not much else.

Soon, Maya got tired of living paycheck to paycheck. And the ideas that usually came to her were stopped by anxiety of where things were headed. Or not headed. Before “getting lead editor” as a goal, “get a book published” was one.

Then one night, Maya met Lindsay at a mutual friend’s party and she got the bug for publishing. 

Maya figured this would be a great way for her to still be in the writing business but also have a guaranteed paycheck. 

And maybe Will was right that she started to care less about writing her own ideas and was more focused on how she could make money off of someone else’s writing. 

But she was GREAT at it! She felt powerful in the boardroom. Her instincts were so sharp, they freaked her out sometimes. She loved the feeling. 

Maya understood that her job could help Will out too. In the beginning, she tried to get him in front of the right people. But her effort did slack after awhile. Working in publishing showed her that not many people were looking for a book of poems. They wanted something that could turn into a franchise and be adapted into a movie. She honestly didn’t want him to be disappointed.

But she knew that he could do it without her. And he did! He got Reader’s Hut! He was finally going to be a published author! Wasn’t it a good thing that he didn’t need her to be successful? At least in her mind, she did. 

Which makes this break up hard for her to understand. They were so good together! And they were finally making it! 

What was she supposed to do now for her “get engaged/married by 30” goal? That was all with Will in mind. She thought that their future was set. Multiple times he even spoke of getting married before she did. There was no way she saw this coming. 

But yet, here she was. 

Too depressed to look at her bedroom any longer, Maya makes her way to the kitchen and brings out a bottle of white wine, chips and salsa. 

After Will left, she didn’t feel like eating dinner by herself so she waited for the check to pay for her drink before she left. The problem was, she was still hungry. 

After pouring herself a drink and putting the chips and salsa in a bowl, Maya opens her laptop and checks her email. 

Fuck, she thinks as she pulls up another RSVP. 

In just a couple hours, the outlook for her 30th birthday took a dark turn.

Come back every Friday for the next installment of Life After 30!

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