Once upon a time, I had a very well-established career in electronic payments and banking. This career had everything a career ought to — good money, high profile, intellectual stimulation, great colleagues, upward mobility, and a great deal of flexibility for a working woman with two children. In many ways, it was a dream job.
So why would I have ever looked this gift horse in the mouth?
Two reasons — passion and purpose.
Although I enjoyed my job, I never felt passionate about the work the way some of my colleagues did. Deep down, I knew this job wasn’t my life’s purpose, and I fought against a near-constant niggling that I was destined to use my creative energy in other ways — ways that would inspire others.
I ignored the voices for as long as I could, and tried to satisfy my hunger for creative expression by going on personal and creative retreats. I would return home refreshed and invigorated, but soon after reentering “normal” life, those effects would wane. Taking myself “away” from my life became like a drug to me – a way of keeping myself going.
Eventually, stress began to take its toll, especially after I had my first child. Leaving my daughter behind to work full time and to travel for business was painful. I was constantly exhausted and I felt like both my work and my daughter were suffering. I got sick so frequently much of my “free” time was spent in bed recovering. My anxiety levels went through the roof and eventually compromised my ability to function.
I did what I could to improve my situation, and my boss was very supportive. I cut my hours back, moved to Boulder, CO with my family (thus began telecommuting), and gave birth to another child – this time a son. The physical distance and the reduced hours helped some, and yet, the longing in my heart to do work that would fulfill me and enable me to inspire others only increased.
In 2007, my father passed away suddenly at the age of 64. I was too heartbroken to do anything other than get through the days that first year without him, but then, like so many others who have suffered a significant loss, I began putting real thought into what I wanted to contribute to the world.
Inspired by my two children, I began writing picture books. I took a course in children’s book writing and joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in order to learn more. All while continuing my “day” job.
Finally, in the fall of 2009 I attended a regional SCBWI conference in Denver. I was swollen with inspiration, hope and desire to not only write, but to make a career from writing. On the drive home, I had an epiphany — “What if I could feel as inspired, driven and hopeful every day as I do today?”
So I made the decision to leave my job – right as the world economy collapsed. Everyone, myself included, thought I was crazy, but I no longer felt like I had a choice. I knew I needed to give a writing career a shot, and that I needed to start immediately.
Fortunately, my husband supported my decision, and I began writing my blog, signed up for a few social media networks, wrote another picture book manuscript, signed up for an SCBWI national conference in New York and never looked back.
People often ask me why I write for children. I write for children because I want to make their lives better through books. Yes, books educate children, give them adventures, escape, and entertainment. But books also give children hope. And what could be more important and profound than that?
And I write for adults — on my blog, in articles, and soon, in books — for the very same reasons.
Now, in addition to my own writing, I am on a mission to help other writers in their journeys. I am in a unique position, stepping off a successful career, to have attended many conferences, writing classes and retreats. Now I aim to share the knowledge I have gained with other writers, via my blog, my monthly newsletter, the 12 x 12 picture book writing challenge, and the services I provide to writers.