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"This is so stupid. I’m not going to see him again. I got my new tattoo, I’m ready to start over, and I’ve accomplished one of my goals.
As I walk toward home, I notice I have a little more bounce in my step. Despite the burning sensation on my shoulder and the pain, I feel better than I have in months.
I tell myself it’s the new tattoo, and not the man who gave it to me."~Lindsay Detwiler, Inked Hearts
Inked Hearts, a sexy seaside romance, is releasing October 21st! Pre-order now for half-off and then get your invite to our exclusive Pre-Order party, happening October 20th. We've got giveaways, recipes, behind-the-scenes, and more.
$2.49 for a book and a party invite. Grab your copy today!
I can’t do this for the rest of my life.
My car windows down and my favorite song blasting, my 21-year-old self should’ve been nothing but happy that August day. I had one more semester until I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. I’d maintained a 4.0 GPA, had been selected for a statewide scholarship for those pursuing the career pathway of becoming a Certified Public Accountant, and had finished my internship. My life’s path stretched out before me — it was steadfast and sure. It was everything I thought I wanted.
Driving home with the gorgeous rays of sun beating down on my car, though, it was this haunting thought that kept echoing in my head: I can’t do this for the rest of my life. After a summer of working on spreadsheets and convincing myself I loved numbers, I’d finally listened to my inner voice.
I wasn’t happy. I saw a life of interminably long, passionless days ahead.
It was on this day I made a decision that was very difficult at the time. I finished my accounting degree, but instead of heading off to the workplace with my peers, I stayed behind. I spent several extra semesters at college earning my teaching degree in a subject I had always truly loved: English.
The thought of spending more money and more hours in the classroom was daunting at the time. I watched everyone else march into the world of accounting with steadfast assurance their journey would be smooth. I was choosing a riskier path, with teaching jobs being at a shortage in my area. I was also giving up precious years, years that I was so ready to use to become an adult and make a salary.
Now, I’m thankful I made that choice. I’m grateful I had the courage to recognize I wasn’t happy. I’m grateful for my family who helped me see passion should guide your life, not safety and rational choices.
I know I was lucky in a way. My realization came at a time when I could still do something about it without sacrificing too much. I wasn’t weighed down by the true pressures of adult life yet or the stability of a path already trodden upon. I was still able to change my mind and my course of life without too much turbulence.
I know for many this isn’t the case.
Finding the Guts to Pursue Your Passion
All around, there are articles, success stories, and even quote pillows telling you to chase your dreams and find your joy. While sometimes inspiring, they also can feel overly optimistic.
In the real world, it isn’t always easy to change your mind or life. The human condition seems to inherently dislike change. We fear the risks involved and the unknown. Thus, keeping the course, even if it isn’t what our hearts truly want, seems like the wisest choice.
In addition, as women we are often taught to put our own needs on the back burner. Selflessness is a quality ingrained in us from girlhood, a quality that sometimes becomes our worst enemy. We’re taught early in life to be caretakers and nurturers—but we’re often not taught that this means we need to be nurturers for our own spirit and needs.
Thus, so many women wake up realizing they’re unhappy in their lives but don’t know how to do anything about it.
There are certainly success stories. Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne abandoned a corporate world that wasn’t making them happy to start Georgetown Cupcakes, which was featured on TLC’s reality show DC Cupcakes. They are only one story of women changing their careers, changing their lives, and chasing their true dreams.
Those women can feel far off, however. Having mortgage payments, children who depend on you, and other adult responsibilities can make giving up a known paycheck difficult. It can also feel like women who chase crazy adventures are probably just lucky. Women like us who step in chewing gum every time we wear new shoes or get every red light in town when we’re late for work certainly don’t feel auspicious enough to take a chance like that.
So what’s the answer then?
I think we need to start being real about two things.
One: Selflessness does not mean you have to put your own passions aside.
This is one of those easier said than done kind of maxims, but it’s so important. We must value our inner voice and what fulfills us. It is passion that makes this crazy journey called life bearable and enjoyable. Without passion, all the security in the world won’t necessarily matter. We need to feel alive, to feel joyful, and to feel like we’re pursuing a purpose. Most importantly, we need to understand we have the right to do this.
Two: We need to recognize chasing one’s happiness is courageous.
Pillows and posters about chasing dreams are nice, don’t get me wrong. But we need to start recognizing that it isn’t as easy as chanting a motto to yourself. To find true happiness, the kind that lights your passion and ignites you at the core, great difficulties must be overcome. It requires sacrifice, risk, and determination. It requires self-awareness and self-value.
It is only when we as women and we as a society start to categorize chasing happiness as both brave and admirable that we can start to find the strength to do it.
Chasing happiness is never easy, and it will often involve risk.
As I’ve come to learn through personal experience, though, waking up to a life you undeniably wanted is a gift we should all be brave enough to strive for, no matter the cost.
Lindsay Detwiler’s eighth novel, Inked Hearts, focuses on the courage to chase happiness through her main character, Avery. Inked Hearts releases on October 21, 2017, with Hot Tree Publishing. Learn more here.
Fall Festivals and Small-Town Charm: The Author's Life
I'm a small-town girl with a heart for the small-town kind of world. Sure, I've been dazzled during trips to New York City. The rush of people and the constant thrill is exciting.
But I wouldn't want to live there... because I'm a small-town kind of girl.
I like the simplicity of walking down my empty street, waving at a few friendly faces. I like the sometimes humdrum pace of our town. I like walking for breakfast to a tiny cafe down the street, and ambling to a school event on a weekend. I love the friendly, familiar faces at our local haunts. I love the lack of traffic at intersections and the easy pace of our Pennsylvania town.
So, this weekend, when my husband and I were invited to a bookstore in a small town in Pennsylvania for the town's fall festival, I was thrilled. These are the kinds of places I feel at home.
And you know what?
It was one of my favorite author events so far.
It wasn't my favorite because we sold hundreds of books (we didn't) or because we had lines of people waiting to meet me (we also didn't). It was my favorite because of the atmosphere, the people, and the small-town charm that just made me feel at home.
Watching children laughing as they visited the petting zoo and ate way too much caramel corn. The smell of fried foods and the simple chatter around. The dog costume parade and scarecrow contests. It was an afternoon of warmth and simple, true fun.
Sometimes as authors, we lose sight of the journey. We are always wanting bigger, better, faster, more. We are always measuring our paths by how many books we sell or how much money exchanges hands. We try to collect awards and fame. We become so focused on these things that we lose sight of the simple fun, the beautiful memories, and the days like today.
Today, I'm thankful for a chance to meet new readers and to explore a new town. I'm thankful my author career has led me to new places and small towns all over our state. I'm thankful for an afternoon in the sun with my husband, laughing and having a simple, small-town adventure.
The author's life isn't always about big cities and huge tour stops. Sometimes, as I've learned, the best days and events are the ones that make us feel right at home, that remind us what genuine fun is all about, and help us see that the memories we make along the way are so much more important than anything else.
Love sexy, seaside romances? Scroll down for an excerpt from my next release AND find out how you can get a party invite to win big!
One hundred more miles until I am the new Avery, the woman I’ve always wanted to be but was too afraid of. One hundred more miles until I’m a brand-new woman without a past to haunt her, without pitying stares and questioning looks. One hundred miles until I can shake off this coat of expectations and social requirements for my life. One hundred miles until I break out of the perfect square constructed for my life. One hundred miles until I start fresh with new people, with a new town, with a new life. Only Henry knows where I’ve been, and I don’t think he’s telling anyone anything.
And the first thing I vow to myself in this new version of life?
I won’t let a man change that again. I won’t let a man control me, own my heart. I’ll live for myself this time, wild and free, a girl of the unpredictable wind.
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“I’m really done this time,” I bellowed through snot and tears as my husband drove us through the infernal rainstorm toward home.
We were soaking wet, freezing, and most of all, disheartened. As a small-time romance writer, I’d set my hopes and dreams on this book festival. I’d prepared for months for what I imagined was my chance to breakout and meet new readers in a different state. I’d printed my handouts, gathered giveaway supplies, and advertised. I’d found a new sense of positivity and founded my hopes of growing as an author on this weekend event set to draw in thousands.
In short, this was going to be my moment to shine and to get my career off the ground.
Instead, after hours of driving, we arrived at a festival quite literally washed out by an all-day rainstorm. Rain pelted us from every direction as we lugged our supplies into the “rain or shine” event. Under a rickety tent in the back corner of the festival near the bathrooms, my husband and I sat in the midst of a barren wasteland of a literary festival. We spent our entire day shaking from cold and watching a few stragglers wander by our leaking tent.
We watched my dreams wash away into the overabundant puddles. We only sold two books that day, one being a fellow author who took pity on us in our own tent.
In my mind, the day was symbolic of my writing career—a wash. I’d been through a roller coaster of emotions as I navigated the sometimes-hopeless publishing world. My passion for writing was threatening to fade away. That literary festival only underscored my beliefs.
Thus, on the way home, tears mixing with rainwater and the feel of failure weighing heavy on my shoulders, I turned to my husband and vowed I was done. I was putting down the pen, stowing away the unfinished manuscripts, and quitting writing.
Calmly, with a strength in his voice, my also exhausted husband turned to me. “No, you’re not.”
The tears quieted, and confusion took over the sadness. How could he say that? He’d also spent the entire day in the torrential rain, had spent his entire weekend on yet another failed author event.
“Today was a waste of time. I can’t keep doing this,” I uttered.
“It’s not a waste of time. It’s your passion. It rained today and we didn’t do as well as we hoped. So what? Someday, you’ll look back on this and laugh. Just keep going.”
It wasn’t a well-written monologue with fancy sentiments. My husband uttered a few lines that to anyone else would have seemed meaningless.
But to a writer struggling with confidence and resolve, these were the words I needed. They kickstarted a drive in me to keep going and to smile through the journey. They made me realize that overnight success wasn’t the goal. The goal was to learn and grow, to appreciate every step and misstep along the way.
Now, a year and a half later, I look back on that rainy, gloomy day and realize it wasn’t a waste of time. That day was the day I realized no matter what types of deluges I had to sit through, my husband would be by my side, cheering me on in this journey to chase my dreams.
For every writer, this is the most important thing to find—that one person who, even in a rainstorm, will be your cheerleader and motivation.
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