When I left Northern Virginia and my job as a bilingual (Spanish) family support worker with a great non-profit, I had a plan and a dream--buy a small house and write full-time. I moved west where I could afford a home and finished my novel. I accomplished both in a very short period of time because I was motivated and probably a little bit nutty.
It has been three years since that moving truck pulled up to my new life. Was it easy? Yes, it was once I decided that was what I wanted to do. I was committed to my plan and the pieces fell into place very easily and very quickly. I decided and the Universe conspired with me to make my dreams a reality, but there were pros and cons
As I was renting, buying was a smart move although I live on much less than when I was working full-time. I've adjusted and it has been a steep learning curve as I'd never bought and financially managed a house on my own. I moved two hours from my adult children which was very painful, but I only saw my children twice a month and they lived ten minutes from my home. I loved working with my clients, but I was tired of running around with 27 client families and the paperwork...was just awful. I felt like a hamster in a wheel most days and creatively, I was stifled. There was little time to write and paint which I've done since I was in my early teens. I needed a creative life. Moving was the best decision ever and I've never looked back. There were sacrifices to make, however.
Is it still easy? No, it's not. I live retirement pay check to retirement pay check and tax season is always stressful, but with God's help and being creative and frugal, I manage. I still see my children once or twice a month which is great and I have met new friends in my new town. I try to take a road trip per month to visit friends and family which I love and my social life can be active if I choose. I love my home and I'm still working on this old house and garden which give me a lot of joy, satisfaction and peace.
The difficult parts of sticking to my plan are: sticking to my plan when money is tight and keeping the faith and my dream of seeing my historical novel, A Decent Woman, alive. I've looked into part-time jobs in my town, but they are either not available or the money is too low for the amount of time required. I want to write, period. To go backward and work full-time isn't an option for me. I've already lived my dream for three years, there is no going back in my hard-headed brain. I will make ends meet because I want this life and I must persevere. Worrying won't help. I must remain steadfast and confident about my novel and my historical novel-in-progress, Finding Gracia.
The most difficult part I've experienced is actually staying the course when rejection letters arrive and when I meet people whose faces seem to say, "Get a real job" when I say that my book hasn't been published yet. When I tell them that I'm working hard on getting an agent and a publisher the traditional route, I imagine that they're thinking how irresponsible I am. I 'hear' their thoughts out loud, "Time to give up on that dream, Ellie. Self publish your book." It's like a brief instant of pity crosses their faces and they're thinking how delusional I must be to continue to go after this dream of seeing my book in print, the traditional way. Of course, I have no clue what they're thinking, but it's like I hear those words. My censors are alive and well some days.
There's nothing like meeting new people to shake your firm foundation a bit and it's even harder with friends and family who know you well. Of course, this doesn't happen often, but when it does, it seems that all the good wishes and support instantly fade away. That's when I begin playing mind games with myself. I remind myself WHY I moved and WHY I must write. I believe in my novel and I love my story and characters. I have to silence the censors and naysayers in my head! When this happens, I take a walk or a short drive to clear my head. I remind myself of the difficult roads for all authors, including best selling authors. I visualize myself signing a stack of my books on a book tour and signing the contract for my second book. These tricks usually work and before I know it, I'm writing again.
I remind myself about how fortunate and blessed I am to do what I'm passionate about. I'm grateful for the opportunity and gift of writing full-time and very blessed to have a roof over my head. My children are happy, healthy and successful and I live alone with little or no distractions.
NOW, if I could just win the lottery...