Friday, April 24, 2009

Looking Back to Looking Ahead

As sudden as it feels now that Phase 3 is almost here, I have been laying some foundations for it:
A. Found a writing coach. I needed someone to keep me motivated to write, to advise me on making this a business, to listen to me whine. I chose someone I met at a writers' conference, because I remembered her warm and sunny personality (she is from California), her professionalism, and her great laugh. That laugh alone is worth the investment. We talk once or twice a month on the phone. I update her on what I'm doing, brag or wimper, and she offers insights and suggestions and gives me assignments which I usually forget to do. I know that I wouldn't have accomplished nearly as much as I have without her support.
B. Got my finances in order. I originally planned to retire in October of 2008. I made that my deadline to pay off the mortgage on my house. I found out what the payments would have to be to make that happen, and since I wasn't too far off from paying it off, managed to pay enough more per month to close it out. So now those lovely chunks of change, instead of going to the mortgage holder, accumulate in my bank account. My car is paid for. And I've been using my Social Security checks to pay off a credit card debt.
C. Began working regularly on a couple of novels, just to prove to myself I was serious. I discovered that I could find 30 minutes a day of writing time after work, and half-hour by half-hour I finished drafts of both of them.
D. Renovated my garden. I love growing vegetables, but for the last few years had given up trying to have a garden, and it quickly became a weedy jungle. Last summer and fall I pulled up every weed there was and covered the beds with straw. Now the beds are ready for their own Phase 3. Spinach, anyone? I'm also building some more beds so I can go crazy, vegetively speaking. To celebrate, I bought a beautiful pair of stone washed overalls which I plan to live in this summer, and a great straw gardening hat.

I feel some sense of security that I have looked ahead and committed to making a successful transition. There will always be unknowns, happy and scary. I'll take them as they come.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Courage to Change

This quote from Courage to Change, that wise collection of daily thoughts published by Al-Anon Family Groups, seems pertinent: "It's all right to feel disappointed, skeptical, resentful, joyous, excited, or confused about our changing circumstances." I feel most of those several times a day and in the middle of the night.
Disappointed: I expected to have secured some free-lance assignments by now. I remind myself that working part-time, a) I have more time to follow up on leads, and b) I'm still receiving a salary.
Skeptical: In spite of favorable comments about my completed chapter book, I will only believe it when I get that "We are happy . . ." letter from a publisher.
Resentful: I am annoyed with publishers who offer work and then disappear like wisps of fog.
Joyous: I feel breathless at the prospect of real freedom to structure my time according to my needs.
Excited: This is a new path, and I hear waterfalls and exotic birds up ahead.
Confused: I swing between the polls of "what was I thinking?" and "this is totally what I need to do." I suppose the truth is somewhere in the middle.

CTC goes on: "I will allow myself the dignity to discover exactly how I feel about the changes that are happening today. . . " Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Rocky Start

Behind every new venture, there's a plan. Of course, the plan may or may not pan out. The plan: Sign up for Social Security, pay off mortgage, find free-lance writing jobs to allow for occasional splurges, and retire with the requisite-sized nest egg. Right. That was right before the fall of the stock market. As I watched my nest egg shrink from turkey-size to wren-size, and as free-lance jobs did not come rolling in, I went to Plan B: work three days a week, and have four-day weekends every week! Sounds good to me. This is the current plan, due to start May 1. Next week is my last actual five-day week, because I'm spending a week in the Smokies, and then work retreats take up part of the next week.

In the meantime, I've been getting more encouraging responses to free-lance queries, and I have a novel almost ready to market. We shall see.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Life: Part 3

Transistions should be celebrated. I am about to embark on a new phase of life, and I want to document it here. After 21 years working at my favorite children's magazine, and I am going to pick up where I left off and become a writer again. And a gardener, a dreamer, a walker, a traveler, and a front-porch sitter.