I used to have a lot of irons in the fire.
I was an actress and a model; I worked a lot, and I went on auditions and go-sees four to six times a week most weeks. I traveled; I had a boyfriend who would whisk me off to Europe periodically. I wrote poems and novels and I trained for marathons and I had a lot of friends in the city and I was always going out, dancing and dating and drinking. I had a very busy life and I loved every single second of it.
Then the headache happened. I realize I keep coming back to that in these posts, but I’m still processing how this health crisis changed my life—in bad ways, but also, surprisingly, in good ways.
I gave up a lot of things. Around last winter, when I was dealing with some of the worst of it, some of my closest friends moved out of the city and I scaled my social life back (I tend to go full hermit in the winter anyway). I stopped dating. After struggling to hold on, I put the auditions on hold and stopped running, too. All I could do was sit on my couch and binge-watch 1990s anime and wonder when my life was going to come back.
But as I started to recover—slowly—something started to happen. I threw myself into my novel with renewed dedication, completely falling in love with this story I’d been working on for over a year—and my writing was better than it had ever been. Suddenly I had a clear vision where things had been muddy before. I felt these characters deep in my bones where before I was always questioning. I knew exactly what they would do in each situation. They spoke to me.
I’d been writing novels for about ten years. It was always a struggle. I learned how to sit down and have a regular writing practice; I learned how not to ever get writers’ block. I learned how to plot. But it never, ever came easy. My stories didn’t sing.
All of a sudden, this one was singing. And all I had to do for that was get rid of everything else in my life.
I did a lot of thinking in the past few months about what I want for my future, and the answers have surprised me. I always knew I’d be ready to give up acting, someday in the future, and focus on my writing. That time is now. I built my acting business up from nothing and did very well in the most competitive city in the world. But in the past few months I stopped auditioning and dyed my hair red and no longer look anything like my headshots, and I have no desire to. I don’t miss the auditions. Work still occasionally comes into my life, but I’m not fighting for it like I was. Up until this year, I was devoting a lot of time and energy to auditions that didn’t lead to work. Now I can spend that time writing.
With the copywriting, I’m also at a crossroads. During the headache months, some of my regular clients scaled back. When I got better I went through a rebrand and have landed some work through that, but to really step up my income I’m going to have to throw myself into it and work on promoting myself much harder. And the only thing I want to do right now is write this book.
Suddenly I see a future for myself. That future is writing novels. It’s writing fantasy YA and paranormal romances and high fantasy with a romance component and the occasional historical. It’s deciding whether to go self-published or try for the traditional route, learning how to promote myself, and using all my copywriting skills to build myself a business. I think about that and I’m so excited I can’t sit still, and I’m ready. I am all in.
I never wanted to be the type of person who only did one thing. For a long time, I thought I needed to act as well as write—that acting got me out of the house and being creative among others. Acting taught me so much about writing and my own creative process, and it toughened me up to rejection like nothing else. But right now, what I need to do is scale down. I need to pick something and go all in.
I’ve picked that thing. Or, it’s picked me. It’s showed up in my life and told me that this is the only way. I’m doing what it says, and I’ve never been this excited about the future.