I’m a digital nomad, part-time resident of the beautiful city of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, avid instagramer, and full-time writer of women’s fiction.
My first novel draws from my experience as a tech insider where, for over a decade, I experienced being the only woman in the boardroom (in Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer roles).
A few years ago I made the bold decision (or feel free to call it crazy, fearless, or privileged) to do what smart people in the writing world never advise; quit my job in San Francisco and start writing novels.
Since then it’s been a crazy journey.
I can tell you with confidence that of every trip I’ve taken (and I’m lucky to have visited fifty plus countries) the writing journey is by far the scariest.
Scarier than hunting with stoned-out-of-their-minds tribesmen in Tanzania. Scarier than sitting on a beach in Indonesia when the Tsunami alert goes out. Scarier than riding a a blow up banana boat through a storm in Croatia (all true stories, that might be in book some day).
I started the first draft of my first book knowing that I wasn’t skilled enough, or industry savvy enough to know where the story would end. But, I took a leap of faith that the journey itself would teach me what I needed to know.
After completing that first draft, I did the worst thing any new writer can do. I read every craft book I could lay my hands on. And froze.
Did you know that almost all writing advice ultimately contradicts itself?
So I sought help. I joined Women’s Fiction Writers Association and found my tribe. Through their recommendations, I took editing classes with Margie Lawson’s writing academy, and I signed up for weekly book coaching with an amazing coach Kemlo Aki at Jennie Nash’s Author Accelerator.
Simultaneously, my tech consultant fiancé (now husband) and I realized we couldn’t afford to live in expensive San Francisco, and decided to became digital nomads (working people with no fixed abode).
First we tried living in an RV for six months. I share in this post Why (the Dream) of Writing from an RV Wasn’t for Me.
Next we tried Mexico, and Colombia, and then I won an award and that gave me the confidence to stick with the writing. A few thoughts here on Why Awards Matter to Debut Writers.
And then, after over a year more of editing the book, I started looking for an agent. You can read more here in Tales from the Querying Trenches about how the hummingbird became my spirit animal.
Was my journey over? No, this book still had one more year of editing and revisions to go (this time working with Tiffany Yates Martin an amazing developmental editor), and I don’t yet know what that first book’s path to publication will be.
My advice to other writers, a few years into the journey?
First, I wish that someone had told me earlier that the hardest part of this journey is tackling your own demons.
Guilt. Doubt. Shame. They are hard to get over. For me, there’s been guilt over wasting time, guilt over passing on the opportunity to make good money in my prior day job, fear of lacking the necessary talent, shame over being privileged enough to afford to do this. Fear that no one will ever read what you write. Or fear that they will read it. And the biggest challenge: questioning why am I, of all people, deserving of success?
Yes, you need to improve your skills (join the writer’s group, attend the conference, take the classes) but to me the hardest aspect was developing the confidence to know when I was good enough, versus not.
So my advice?
Find ways to bolster confidence in your own talent. For me the first award helped, but beta readers who love your book, who believe it deserves to be in the world can serve the same role.
Find your Tribe. And volunteer. It’s a cliche but find your tribe and pitch in. Whether it’s a regional writer’s forum or conference, or a genre specific organization like Women’s Fiction Writer’s or a local chapter of your library, be part of the group not just a bystander.
The reality is that it’s only by bonding with other writers, all of whom face the same obstacles that you’ll overcome the guilt, doubt and shame.
And there you have it. What else might you want to know about me?
I’m a lover of horses and huge dogs (bigger the better, but being a digital nomad lends itself to neither). Several years ago I completed my first triathlon, much to my own surprise as a lifetime non-athlete.
I’m an extrovert who loves bars and hanging out (see my post on the Rooftops Bars of San Miguel and Cartagena). And originally I hail from the green and gorgeous nation of Scotland, so please don’t get me going on a conversation over Scottish independence or Brexit!