By Janet Kitto
This probably isn’t the first time. You’re thinking about leaving home. Maybe you’re wondering if a creative life on the road will be cheaper and easier than the life you have maintaining a house. You’re also questioning if your mortgage is keeping you tied to a job that you want to leave. Have you been spending a lot of time thinking that a better life is out there somewhere? You feel stuck where you are. Building a business like every other entrepreneur has you wearing too many hats.
If a creative life on the road was just about living cheaply, we’d all consider taking the leap. But it’s not cheap, and it’s not easy. If you’re searching for a new identity as a career author, consider what your writing life might become if you change how you live.
When my husband and I sold our house in 2018, our goal was to eliminate all of our debt and experience financial freedom. We decided to leave the life we had, to say goodbye to family, to give up regular paychecks and routines that were keeping us too busy to travel. I also decided to let go of a lifetime collection of stuff.
We chose to downsize and sell what we could to fund our travel. I was emotionally attached to every book, every box in the garage, and a mindset that I had to live like everyone else. I started my journey as a career author by wanting to have financial freedom.
Before we hit the road, my priority was client work, then my own writing. I was spending a lot of time managing a house full of things that had an overwhelming weight.
Together, my husband and I made a choice to let go of who we were. Choosing to become an author after becoming an empty nester meant that the home I had built, the comforts that I had known, the services that had made my life easier, would no longer serve the person I wanted to be.
Why want a new identity? We all write. You wouldn’t be reading this book if you didn’t plan to go full-time as a writer or are already identifying as a career author. Do you need to change what you do?
I did. This is the journey I mapped out with my partner.
First, my husband and I paid off our mortgage and cleared all of our debts. We dropped the jobs where someone else was making the decision about how we spent our time. We met with a financial advisor and planned how to pay ourselves while we traveled. I put my laptop into a backpack and clothes into the RV we had parked in the driveway.
Up until that point, I had felt afraid to fully let go. I was afraid of losing everything because I had worked hard to have what everyone else had.
I started writing a memoir. In that early draft, I uncovered the root of all my sadness. I didn’t publish the memoir, but I decided that grieving family life and a home was part of my career author process.
The next step was the big one. We moved out of a two-bedroom house into less than 100 square feet of living space in a travel trailer.
Once we were homeless and on the road, the place where I slept every night, a slightly undersized queen mattress, became the place where I also read, occasionally ate, and often wrote. Same for the passenger seat in the truck that pulled our little trailer from site to site.
While my husband drove us around the country, I wrote in a travel journal and worked on getting a website and blog running so I could post weekly updates and understand, in greater detail, the new life I had chosen.
Not every writer is going to want to leave the life they have, or feels compelled to trade their house debt for an unknown adventure. Getting out is not easy, and there were three years I lost because I convinced myself that this was true, that adventure was not for me.
The only way I could get out of what I had was to change who I was. I was done with hoarding china, paper, photographs, and art. A grade-school report card reminded me that my best grades came from creative expression.
Once I decided how I wanted my creative life to look, that I wanted personal wealth, and to discover what was beyond my status quo as a mother, wife, and daughter, a new identity on the road became mine.
Do you want to change who you are? Have you tried changing what you do? Your journey will transform you and your identity as a career author.
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