I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that the orderly and precise world of accounting began to lose its appeal. It had been such a sensible choice back in college; safe and comfortable – my debits always equaled my credits.
Maybe it was thirteen years earlier, during the celebration of my 40th birthday, when I sipped my margarita and realized my life may have just surpassed the halfway mark. I’d been skating a race which no longer held my interest. I’d still cross the finish line, but was it my best shot? Would there be any regrets?
For several years, I tried new things. The age of 50 barreled toward me like a runaway train and my life hadn’t budged. Then an adult education writing class showed me the career of my dreams. More scared than I’d ever been, I tossed the notion of “sensible” jobs right out the window along with my mommy jeans, put on a pair of sweatpants and started a writing career.
I devoured everything I could find on the topic and wrote nearly every single day with – what some might deem – an unhealthy obsession. My eyes were opened to an obvious fact: a writer has always been inside of me. I’d just never taken the time to grab a pen and paper. I learned everything I could from others and began to have some small successes with a few published essays. At this rate, I’d have a flourishing new career by the time my kids left the nest.
I decided to write a novel. Not just any novel. A story that spoke to women my age. Women who believe that romance doesn’t die when you pass the age of forty-five. Who understand about the plight of being middle-aged. Who want to read about mature characters that learn from what life hands them. The theme would be about second chances.
Wasn’t I getting a second chance?
I announced my goal and plowed full steam ahead, despite warnings this was a journey with odds stacked against me. My inner “Polly Positive” stuck by my side, day in and day out while I wrote and revised, revised and revised. Negative contest news made me work harder. Rejections from agents gave me momentary pause, but I’d revise and submit some more.
Years passed and eventually I won a contest then landed an agent. I high-fived “Polly,” certain that my positive attitude helped. I waited for my agent’s call that a publisher wanted me. And waited. And waited.
The phone didn’t ring.
Meanwhile, one of my daughters left the nest. Within five months, the second one left. I pounded the keyboard working on another book, but with each passing day even my enthusiasm shrunk and the loneliness of a writer’s life began to take its toll. “Polly” began to lose faith in me.
I sunk to an all time low. Sure, I wrote. But the 12-hour days waiting for my husband’s return home were getting depressing, made worse because my career hadn’t landed where I had wanted. One afternoon, my daughter called about something new and exciting in her life. After we talked, I hung up and cried. My life was stagnant, my goals foolish. Why did I think I could pull off this new career? The time had come to look for an office job.
“Polly” simply shook her head at me and headed out the front door with nary a glance back at me. I leashed up the dogs to go for a walk, with plans to come back and begin to comb through the “Help Wanted” ads in the paper.
As I zipped my coat, the phone rang. The caller ID showed my agent’s name so I answered.
“Sharon?” My agent’s voice carried an excited edge. “There’s a publisher who wants your book.”
In the overall scheme of lightning-bolt miracles, I almost couldn’t believe that call came at that moment. I pinched myself, wiped away the last of my tears and am proud to say my career is now exactly where I dreamed.
I guess even the most positive amongst us can have a slight loss of faith. In hindsight, I believe everything that happened to me did so because of long-term resolve and some good old fashioned hard work. By the way, “Polly” returned while I was on the phone with my agent. Seems she’d just gone out to get the mail.
Sharon Struth’s novel, The Hourglass, is a story that will resonate for women over fifty. The book shows how sometimes–in the thick of mid-life–our world can take an unexpected sharp turn. The take-away lesson is that no matter what our circumstances are or our age, we can always start over.
A blurb from The Hourglass:
Can forgiveness survive lies and unspoken truths?
Until Brenda McAllister’s husband committed suicide, she appeared to have the ideal life: a thriving psychology practice, success as a self-help author, and a model family. But her guilt over her affair with Jack’s best friend prevents her from moving on. Did Jack learn of her infidelity? Was she the cause of his death?
The release of Brenda’s second book forces her into an unexpected assignment with arrogant celebrity author CJ Morrison, whose irritating and edgy exterior hides the torment of his own mistakes. But as she grows closer to CJ, Brenda learns she wasn’t the only one with secrets—Jack had secrets of his own, unsavory ones that may have led to his death. While CJ helps Brenda uncover the truth about her husband, she finds the path to forgiveness isn’t always on the map.
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