When I was forty, I had big plans. I’d married at 30, had child #1 at 32, and #2 at 35, I had a big house in a posh neighborhood, a cat, a dog, and an electric gate. I thought my marriage was solid. Then in my early forties we divorced, and life did this crazy spin. I was no longer in a committed relationship. I wasn’t going to grow old with anyone. My family was fractured, and future milestones were destroyed. There would be no 25th or 50th wedding anniversary for me. Every future family celebration would come with a mix of people I didn’t know, or care to know.
My friends took sides. I had to rebuild, but from what and to what? I picked up the pieces, and I tried to date. Dating in Los Angeles is brutal at any age, but in your forties? Sheesh. Ten years flashed by in a nanosecond. I went back to work, took classes, made friends, learned to ski, took vacations, travelled Europe, and volunteered. The kids grew up and went to college. They formed friendships and partnerships that had nothing to do with me. But still, I didn’t date.
Around the age of fifty, I began writing romance novels. Amusing, no? I think it was therapy and a hell of a lot cheaper. I liked my made-up heroes more than any man I’d ever met in my short venture into the dating pool.
When I got lonely, or wanted to take a trip, I could attend conferences and meet people with a common interest, plus learn the craft of writing. I had a purpose. I had goals, and dreams, and plans again. Yippee! I woke up one day and asked, “Who the hell am I kidding about being a romance novelist?” I still couldn’t go on a date with any success, so what business did I have writing about love? Depressing? Well, yeah, kind of. I figured my writing days were over. I even tried to quit. Big joke, that.
I read recently that Joseph Campbell said: “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Some years ago, I’d had a glimmer of that understanding. I was still living in the shadow of my marriage. I was over the divorce thing but hadn’t moved on. So I sold my large home, and half the stuff I’d accumulated, and moved to a smaller home, then sold that one, and so on, until I was in a modest three bedroom home bordering on Van Nuys and overlooking an alley. I fixed it up, sold it, and moved into a secure development for mostly retired people and a two hour drive from my kids and the concrete jungle of Los Angeles. I shed everything I could from my former life, except for writing. That tenacious little devil had sunk her teeth into my leg and could not be shaken off.
Anyway, something magical happened after I moved to the desert. I made friends of like mind. I broadened my outlook. I joined women’s groups, and a great book club. I came to the understanding that I loved writing, but if I never got published then so be it. This year my manuscript, Exposure, is a finalist in the romantic suspense category of the 2012 RWA® Golden Heart® contest.
Last week, I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press. Unlock the Truth is a romantic suspense set in a fictional town in the southern California desert and the first of three books linked by location and secondary characters. Exposure is the third and last book in that series. The Blue Dolphin is the second book and will soon be winging its way to the editor. I hope she loves it. You’re probably asking what the heck dolphins have to do with the desert, right? Well, that’s the intrigue which creates the suspense, romantic and otherwise. ; )
So, the answer to my question, “How did I get here?” I was meant to be here. It took me a long time and a lot of hard work but I’m where I belong. And I’m doing not only what I was meant to do, but what I want to do. I’m beginning to think that things look pretty good for my next ten years. What about you?