The first time I glimpsed Los Angeles from a plane window, I wasn’t impressed. The view through a taxi window on my way to Studio City wasn’t much better. The palm trees were too tall and thin. The roads were too tight and travelled. The people looked tired and troubled. Where was the gold and glitter I’d spent the last twenty-five years dreaming of?
This should’ve been my first clue that dreams are fickle things.
That January almost seven years ago, I’d flown 2,000 miles for work. As a newly hired editor for the Walt Disney Company, I’d achieved a damn-near impossibility in this industry: a steady, dependable paycheck with full corporate benefits—all while working mostly from home in my pajamas. The words “dream job” seriously applied.
For three years, I coordinated, culled, cared for, and curated parenting-focused web content. The job was incredibly progressive and creatively freeing. We were supported by the greatest graphics and technology departments in the world. We took tiny sparks of ideas and blew them into ginormous corporate assets. But I hated waking up each morning, and turning on my laptop made me physically ill.
Something was wrong, but it couldn’t be the dream job, so I had blood work, increased my thyroid meds, and underwent additional tests. Nothing definitive was found.
That should’ve been my second clue.
Stress and arthritis were possibilities, so in an attempt to address this stress I swore I wasn’t feeling and this arthritis I was far too young to have, I walked two miles a day. On these walks, I dreamed of the romance novels I’d write if I had time for fiction. The more I walked, the louder the characters became, but I couldn’t do anything about them.
My dream job included a contract with an extensive intellectual property clause. My ideas weren’t necessarily mine. As long as they weren’t, fiction would have to wait. I told the characters to shut up and I told myself to suck it up, and I went back to work, writing while my kids were in school, participating in conference calls long after they’d returned home. Living the dream.
Then one December day while I tried to merge a conference call with driving ballet carpool, my other cell phone line beeped. I ignored the interruption, didn’t even look at the screen. When I got home, I saw my boys locked out of the house, huddling on the porch in single-digit temperatures. Thank God they had a cell phone, right? Too bad their mother hadn’t answered hers.
This third clue was harder to ignore. The dream job was a nightmare.
The next day, I gave my notice. The day after that, I wanted to take it back. When I packed up my home office equipment, I cried. Who walked away from an opportunity like this?
As spring sprung, I returned to walking, and the negative voices in my head faded until I could hear the characters again. In two weeks, I wrote 60,000 words of romantic fiction. Most of those words sucked, but I felt joyful for the first time in months. More importantly, I’d discovered a new dream, one born of an old dream that had run its course.
Three years later, I sold my first manuscript to Crimson Romance, and by the end of that year, I had ten books published. I still wonder where I’d be if I’d stayed with Disney. It really was a dream job with dream benefits and opportunities, but it wasn’t the right dream for me. That’s a hard lesson to learn—just because something sounds awesome, doesn’t mean it’s going to be awesome for you. And just because you have one dream, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind and have another.
I’m still waiting for The Day when doing what I love and the truckload of money collide. But at least I don’t hate getting out of bed anymore. Waking up is a blessing BECAUSE I get to turn on my laptop. If that ever isn’t the case, I’ll walk away again and dream another dream. There are plenty to be had.
Who said we only get one?
Attention savvy readers! CRASHING THE CONGRESSMAN’S WEDDING will be on sale for $.99 as part of the Kindle Nation Daily sale from 10/17-10/24. Also, as part of their Free Fall promotion, Crimson Romance is offering a coupon code for a free copy of BABY BY DESIGN. Click here to enter for your coupon code!
About CRASHING THE CONGRESSMAN’S WEDDING
Alice Cramer is tired of being pitied for her family’s transgressions, so she resolves to break out of the gutter and into the spotlight. As long as her local congressman can forget about their checkered past and help her secure a federal grant to open Harmony Falls Little Theatre, she’ll be the brightest star in town. But when Alice stands up in church and stops the congressman’s wedding, she dives headfirst into fresh scandal.
Why is Harmony Fall’s golden boy, Justin Mitchell, speeding down the interstate sans a new wife but with the local drama queen he’s been trying his whole life to avoid? Alice Cramer may have saved him the hassle of an arranged marriage to a woman he didn’t love, but she’s also put a business transaction big enough to save an entire town in jeopardy – not to mention his reputation.
Soon Alice and Justin are dredging up and indulging in an attraction that threatens all their dreams and aspirations. But what if life together is the dream that matters most?
About Elley Arden
Elley Arden is a born and bred Pennsylvanian who has lived as far west as Utah and as far north as Wisconsin. She drinks wine like it’s water (a slight exaggeration), prefers a night at the ballpark to a night on the town, and believes almond English toffee is the key to happiness.
Elley has been reading romance novels since she was a sixteen-year-old babysitter, sneaking Judith McNaught and Danielle Steele novels off the bookshelves of the women who employed her. To say she’d been sheltered up to that point is an understatement. No one had ever told her women could live bold, love freely, and have sex lives that were exciting and fulfilling. (They don’t teach these things in Catholic school!) Now that she knows, she’s happy to spread the word. The women she writes about may be fictional, but the success, respect, and love they find on the page is a universal right for women everywhere.
Elley writes books with charming characters, emotional stories, and sexy romance. Visit The Bookshelf for a detailed listing.