In San Francisco before I left to live in an RV, then became a digital nomad.
At the start of 2016 I made the bold decision (or feel free to call it crazy, fearless, or privileged) to do what those in the writing world advise never to risk and quit my job to write a novel. (You can read more here on what my book is about.)
Yes, I’d read what every expert says don’t give up your day job and I’ll be the first to admit they’re right. Money smooths all paths, and no matter how much we refuse to admit it, our sense of self-worth (or at least mine) is tied to our ability to prove our value by being paid.
For the last twenty years I’ve had a series of tech jobs leading large teams, which generally means (as the only woman in the room), faking confidence until others believe you have a clue (which after a couple of decades, I eventually did).
So why give up a good career to struggle with a process which at best, from idea to publication takes years, or in worst case decades?
I’m far from the first to say this, but writers write for one reason. Writers write because we have to.
We write because there’s a burning need, a story scalding the inside wall of our skull, demanding to be told. We either keep putting it off, convincing ourselves that we’ll get to it one day–when we retire, have a less stressful job, the kids grow up–or we somehow find the time to write before that story slow-burns a hole inside our head.
Quite frankly, I was sick of the inside of my skull melting.
And so here starts my story. In early 2016, I quit my career and started the first draft of my first novel, knowing well that I wasn’t skilled enough, or industry savvy enough to know where the journey would end. But, I took a leap of faith that the journey itself would teach me what I needed to know.
I can tell you with confidence that of every journey I’ve taken (and I’m lucky enough to have visited 50+ countries) the writing journey is by far the scariest.
Scarier than hunting with stoned tribesmen in Tanzania. Scarier than sitting on a beach on a flat island when the ‘on its way’ Tsunami warning hits. Scarier than riding a a blow up banana boat through a ferocious storm in Croatia (all true stories).
Since starting this journey, I’ve grappled with three big problems. My goal with this blog is to share what I’ve learned and have some of the fun along the way!
- Writing a book required bringing down my living costs. My boyfriend and I moved into an RV for six months (more on why writing from an RV didn’t work for me). In 2017 my honey and I left San Francisco and resided in the beautiful (and less expensive) city of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. For 2018 our work and living destination is Cartagena, Colombia.
- Guilt. Doubt. Shame. Why didn’t anyone tell me the hardest part of this journey is tackling your own demons? More to come on this in future posts, but there’s guilt over wasting your time, guilt over passing on the opportunity to make good money, fear of lacking the necessary talent, shame over being privileged enough to afford to do this, fear that no one will ever read what you write, fear they will read it and questioning why am I, of all people, deserving of success? Before this journey, I always described myself as a confident person.
- Skill, Craft, Skill. And Tech. I’m lucky because software isn’t scary to me, thus why I’m sharing how-tos on the blog. But storytelling? Cutting adverbs? Getting real emotion on the page without syrup-sweetness? Slipping in backstory without slowing pacing? For all those I’ll say huge kudos to Margie Lawson and her writing academy, my amazing coach Kemlo Aki at Jennie Nash’s Author Accelerator (without whom my writing would still suck as badly as it did a year ago!) and most importantly the amazing community of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, especially my beta readers without whose support and advice I would have given up far before this point!
And there you have it. What else might you want to know about me?
I’m a lover of horses and huge dogs (bigger the better, but I own neither). Five years ago I completed my first triathlon, much to my own surprise as a lifetime non-athlete.
I’m an extrovert who loves bars and hanging out (see my post on the Rooftops Bars of San Miguel and Cartagena), which is always not a great personality fit for a writer. Originally I hail from the green and gorgeous nation of Scotland, so please don’t get me going on a conversation over Scottish independence or Brexit!
Interested in something specific from author tech to travel? Ask me in the comments and perhaps I can research and write a crib-sheet for you!