Sometimes people who grew up in the mountains of West Virginia find themselves as far west as this country goes. A carefully designed life filled with pushing for the next achievement can turn out differently than you'd expect. I had every intention of being a college professor or teacher, doing archaeology, and reading Latin for the rest of my life. Now I'm in California.
Goin' to California
The military has a funny way of putting everything into hyper-focus. When Nick got into the Navy, I did some soul-searching. I am still a woman with career aspirations, but my priorities have changed. I was working a great job as an elementary school teacher, and I had landed a dream job at an incredible place. Both would have afforded great satisfaction in terms of my resume and friendships, but they would have made me a lonely person in the romance department. I looked at the facts set out in front of me, and I decided that if what I wanted was love, then I would need to remove as many barriers to that as possible. The choice that I made to come to California was mine and mine alone.
Like many writers, I have been putting words on paper since I knew there was such a thing. Through all my studies, I always carved out a little time to write. I made a little time to keep my imagination smoldering. I created things that may never see the light of day. They live in dusty notebooks. I tried my hand at poetry - not my forte. I tried to force high-brow literary fiction down my gullet because I had a little bout of pretentiousness. It is gone now. My real love is in the story itself, and I will take it whether it graces the inside of Harper's or comes from the mouth of an affable drunk at a bonfire.
I studied Classics with the motivation of learning stories. I am no British schoolboy. Learning declensions so that I could worship at the altar of Western civilization wasn't a good enough rationale for taking up the study. It was the screwed up love triangles, errant teenagers, big-headed geniuses, and monsters of Greek and Roman literature that kept me hooked. I spent ten years reading the stuff and sometimes composing it badly. I still love those stories.
I have always been a writer.
The thing that really gets me going, though, is writing. I don't like filling the air with my voice, but I have a lot to say. I used to daydream about having the time to get all of this stuff out of my head. I wanted to turn a little time to write into full-time writing. I always said this, but I never did anything about it. I had too many excuses. I would come home from teaching so exhausted that I could barely scrounge together dinner. Creating something was out of the question. Then there was all this negative internal dialogue that ran on a loop when I would think about launching into a full-on pursuit of this dragon. "How does a person feed herself doing a job like that? People are going to think I don't work."
Leave it to life to offer that swift kick in the butt that we sometimes need. Nick was going to California. I wanted to go with him. I said goodbye to my good job and my friends. We threw an engagement, the holiday season, and lots of training into the first few months of being here. Then deployment hit.
When Nick first deployed, I didn't do anything. I just chased paperwork night and day. After the maelstrom of documentation for all our financial matters cleared, I had time. Once the dull sadness of learning how to live in a city alone had worn off, my hands started to get fidgety at the keyboard. Now is the time, my friends. I am writing in California.