Perhaps I haven’t grown up yet. I’m dreaming along with my five-year-old daughter about what I want to become. Today, she wants to become a paleontologist. She is going to, she says, discover and name a new dinosaur species. Big ambitions. I love that. Me? I want to become a successful author. This dream is equally big, and it will not be realized without a lot of hard work and, I’m sure, heartache.
But I’ve learned that life can’t become stale with age and achievement. Being 42 doesn’t mean my road to the grave has already been paved. There is still much to learn, to explore, to do.
So I’m going off-roading. It’s a bumpy ride, full of uncovered paths that may lead to success and may not. It doesn’t much matter. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I do some of my best writing in the car.
It was the summer of 2011. The country was reeling from a faltering economy and a no-good Congress that seemed unable to do anything besides bicker. I was panicked, about both the state of the country and our financial situation. It was 1.5 years since Greg had been laid off, and we were still without a regular income.
Despite all this, Greg and I decided to take the kids on a rode trip from Cleveland to Bradenton, Florida. Bradenton served as an oasis where we could escape both the world’s problems, and have some space away from my parents. (We’d been living with them for one year now). We grabbed the kids and loaded up our Armada with food and DVDs for the 16 hour drive.
“I don’t know if you’ll like it,” she paused. “It’s kind of fun.” I’d never heard of the book, but I was happy just to hold one. I hadn’t read much since Drew was born. Now that the kids were finally a little less demanding of my time, books, not just magazines and newspapers, were back in favor.
I devoured Janzen’s book. My story is nothing like hers, but her book inspired me just the same. In fact, I wrote the entire outline for my own book days after reading Janzen’s memoir. We’d spent Thanksgiving at my in-laws in Virginia and I had a rare 8 hours to write, as my children were tethered to their car seats.
When we returned to Cleveland I was elated. Though I’d always wanted to write a book, I never had any idea what I might write about. Now I had the idea, and it had come easily. The big question in my mind at that point was simple: could I successfully publish a book without being a celebrity or well known writer?