How Did I Get Here?

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?

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38 Responses to How Did I Get Here?

  1. Roben, I will say you always look so happy now that you’re in the desert. Every time I see you, you kind of glow…so I agree, you’re right where you need to be!

    Hugs hon!

    • Robena Grant says:

      Aww, thanks, Christine. But I looked a little washed out yesterday. : ) People renting behind my place sat outside until midnight Saturday night, and I had to be on the road for the LARA meeting by 7:30 am. They weren’t loud, but voices magnify in the desert. I felt sorry for them because they have small kids and it was probably the only time they had for adult stuff. A cool night, a bottle of wine. Who needs a complaining neighbor? But I sooooo, wanted to sleep. : )

  2. Maria says:

    I love that quote “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” How brilliant and simple and terrifying. This is a great post and I am so excited for you and so proud of you. Yea!

  3. Roz Lee says:

    There’s nothing like re-inventing oneself! Congrats, Robena. It takes a strong person to do what you have done. I think you have it wrong – I think you sank your teeth into writing and refused to let go, rather than the other way around. So glad you found where you needed to be, and no matter how long or twisted the road there, you are better for the experiences and scenery along the way.

    • Robena says:

      Now that’s interesting, Roz. : ) And yeah…the scenery of my journey has been great.

  4. Nan says:

    Wow, you are so courageous, Roben! You make me want to be braver. The quote just became my screen saver marquee because I need to remember that. Each time I’ve stepped away from “the plan” and just let life happen, wondrous things occurred. Thanks for the reminder and I’m so very proud of you and so glad we’re friends!

  5. Robena says:

    It’s amazing isn’t it that when we stop trying to control and manipulate our circumstances, the universe just takes over and allows all the good to bubble up.

  6. Robena – thanks for sharing your life story with us. I’m so glad you found writing and writing found you. I’m thrilled at your recent success and glad to hear life is good and that you are looking at a bright future!

    • Robena Grant says:

      Thanks so much, Charlene. Missed seeing you yesterday, but it really was a good meeting. HelenKay Dimon is an excellent speaker. Glad you got to celebrate with the grandbaby though. : )

  7. Kay Elam says:

    Congratulations on your writing success. What an inspiring story.

    I feel a kinship with you. I, too, found myself divorced in my early forty’s. I’d been married twenty years. What a surprise! I was humiliated I hadn’t seen it coming and wanted to get the hell out of Dodge. So, I packed up and moved to a new town, somewhere he and I had never lived together.

    For a long time, I feared the risk of a new relationship. Then 9/11 happened and I decided life was too short and uncertain not to live it with abandon. I told the universe I was ready to date and I met some nice men, but no one who rocked my world. I was self-sufficient and perfectly happy. While dating added a new dimension to my life that I enjoyed, I didn’t meet anyone I’d give up closet space for…Until i met Hubby when I was 47 and six months later we were married. That was 10 years ago. I continued to work for a few years, which left little time to write. He, the sweetheart that he is, encouraged me to quit my job and follow my passion. I’ve not found success yet, but YOUR “later in life” success story gives me hope.

    I’m so excited for you. Thanks for sharing your story. Congratulations, again!

  8. Robena Grant says:

    Kay, I’m delighted you stopped in and shared. Yes, divorce can leave you unable to trust. I’m kind of where you were years back…just haven’t met anyone that I feel a real connection with. And I have writing. And I’m happy. : ) Good for you that the hubs wants you to pursue your dreams. I’ll be 64 this year. We are never too old. In fact our dreams are what keep us young. ; )

  9. Hi Robena!

    This is so funny! I just made a comment on another blog about how things happen for a reason.

    You’re just proving my point. Congratulations on your recent nomination, sale, and general success! Go! Go! Go!

    • Robena Grant says:

      Thanks, Kathy. Yes, I truly believe that, and I think they happen in the way they’re intended. Sometimes, out of the pain or the dark, we find another way toward a different kind of happiness that would never have presented itself under the original circumstances.

  10. KarenB says:

    Beautifully written and very inspirational, Robena! Thank you for sharing your journey.

  11. Lovely post, SO true that life doesn’t go where we expected. I like the way you describe how you’ve grown into the life you have – sounds pretty full of contentment. Congratulations again on the books!!!

  12. I loved reading your story, Robena. I sometimes wonder who the hell am I to write romance novels also. I’ve been married and divoced 3x. I don’t plan on doing it again. And I don’t date, either. But I like writing romance so I’m going to keep doing it.
    I’m glad you’re on your way to being published because soon, I’ll be able to read a book by you!

    • Robena Grant says:

      Well Judy…there you go. You’re such a romantic you took the plunge three times. : ) Keep on writing and enjoying, and it will all happen for you.

  13. Janie Emaus says:

    I believe everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it just takes a bit longer to figure out what that reason is. Can I come live with you in the desert?

  14. This was very encouraging – my family is faced with some big decisions about where we live and how we live over the next few years, and watching how other people handle upheavals and change is an inspiration – especially when it leads to writing contracts!!

    Congratulations on the sale and the Golden Heart. So thrilling!

  15. Robena Grant says:

    Yep, if we can embrace change and look at it as an opportunity to grow in a different way, then it works. Most of us though resist those changes. : ) Thanks so much for the congrats!

  16. Taking chances (well, most chances, anyway) is a good thing. If you hadn’t, Exposure wouldn’t be a GH nominee, and you wouldn’t be writing the other books. It did take you where you were meant to be – even if that wasn’t where you ever imagined being.

  17. Anne Kemp says:

    Robena – What an inspiring post! I love your honest and candid point of view. Thank you!


  18. This is a wonderful post. You and I have both talked about quiting this “writing thing” and I’m so glad we didn’t. We’ve made wonderful friends, and both can add “published author” after our names–something we didn’t think would happen. I too had “plans” but for the most part I’ve now stepped away from them. (except for maybe winning the lottery, lol)

    • Robena Grant says:

      Yes, Melissa, how many times have I bemoaned my fate, cried on your shoulder about yet another rejection, and said I should just quit and go and have fun, only to realise the fun was in the writing. : 0

  19. Love the quote from Joseph Campbell and your outlook on life! It does take a long and winding road to get to where we’re meant to be. Fortunately, you noticed what needed to be shed and what needed to be kept. I’m so glad your writing was one of those things to keep.

    • Robena Grant says:

      Hi Lynne, glad you’re home safely from your trip. Yes, a long and winding road. Perfect. And I’m glad I stuck with the dream of being published also. ; )

  20. Carol says:

    Lovely post, Robena. Very inspiring. Four years ago I took a few things off the shelf, blew away the dust, started to write and bought a piano. Yes, to finding the life waiting for us.

    • Robena Grant says:

      Good for you, Carol. I’m glad you’re writing. Now the piano thing…well, I took lessons as a middle-aged person and got only so far. I loved playing those simple tunes, but then the brain just couldn’t compute when it got more detailed. : )

  21. Julie says:

    Yipee for more books written by my friends! You ARE brave and very strong, such an inspiration. I love hearing about your life in the desert. It’s LIKE mine in the rainforest, and yet, kinda not. Close though!

    Great post.

    • Robena Grant says:

      Thanks, Julie. Yeah, I do my little wanderings and then write about them…kind of like your life up north, although I think you surpass me in exercise. And in the rain, too. : )

  22. londonmabel says:

    Wonderful! I want to say that we’re pretty much always in the place we’re supposed to be, but if I think of severely impoverished people I’m not so sure I should make a sweeping statement like that. But for my own life, anyway. 😉

  23. Robena Grant says:

    Yes, I tend to believe that we are all where we’re supposed to be, but it doesn’t answer some of those questions about people in continual struggle.