Decade of Dreams
I heard horrible things about turning 30. Your metabolism comes screeching to a halt. Gray hair starts to show. Wrinkles become a reality. You spend all your time looking wistfully back at your twenties…
What I’ve found was a different story entirely.
At 34, I’ve mellowed into a much nicer person, I know who I am, and I’m finally living my dreams. Actually, I always knew who I was; I was just too scared to own it. The only thing I miss about my twenties is my metabolism, but I’m learning how to make healthier choices to find my way back to those cute clothes.
I had big dreams as a teenager. I didn’t pursue them because I listened to all the people telling me they were the silly dreams of a girl, and I needed to focus on more practical pursuits. Only none of those things fit. That didn’t stop me from trying, and I lost a decade of my life to it.
I got married young, had children, and sort of drifted through my 20s with no real clue who I wanted to be when I grew up. I worked in human resources for a while. It paid the bills, but my stress level was through the roof. Then I started inching my way towards my first love of writing by pursuing a degree in Communication.
By the time I was 31, I took a look around my life and realized it wasn’t at all what I dreamed it would be. I felt I was at least headed in the right direction, but I didn’t want to be a corporate writer, I wanted to write fiction. I hadn’t written a novel in years, and it was as if a piece of my soul was missing.
I’ve always had stories swirling about in my head. Since childhood, I could amuse myself by making up a moving in my mind. I started writing the movies down when I was 11. By 13, I’d finished my first screenplay. By 17, I had several novels stacked in my closet. By 21, I’d taken a detour into a decade of silence.
When I first dove back into writing, it was a novel I called Tumbleweed, and it was my heart song. I poured all of that yearning to be who I was created to be into the novel. I signed up for the St. Louis Writers Guild. I attended conferences. I read the Writers Market cover to cover. I learned anything and everything I could about writing and the market.
And then I signed up for my first writing partner. With great trepidation, I shared my story. She hated it. The laundry list of things she hated about it was long, too. I was crushed. I mourned for days. I withdrew back into silence.
As determined as I was to give up on writing, the stories kept coming. They’d start out as a dream, just one random scene from any point in the book. But I’d wake up knowing it was a story wanting to be told. I’d type up the dream and save it to my computer and try to move on. But the stories continued to swirl through my mind.
And then my sisters took me to see Twilight. There were good things and bad things about the movie, but something about it struck a chord in me. It made me remember what it felt like to be 17 and so desperately in love. It was like the spark that had been buried under years of work and worry suddenly flared back to life. I went home and wrote Ties That Bind over the next three weeks. I didn’t sleep, I barely ate, and my house was a wreck, but I finished it. And I was proud of it.
As it turns out, that was just the beginning of the journey that led me to where I am today: a fulltime author with six books published and two more slated for this year. I finally got around to fixing what was wrong with Tumbleweed – it’s actually my most recent release. Some of the feedback I’d gotten was valid; some was a matter of taste. The trick is learning to know the difference. I’ve learned that applies in other areas of life, too.
The thing I love most about my life now is that I’ve regained the zeal I had in my youth. I love my thirties because that’s the decade I stopped being scared, and I flung my arms open wide to embrace this crazy, beautiful life I’ve been given.
Heather Huffman writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense with strong female leads who refuse to lose hope. She sees her books as a way to not only entertain, but to also raise awareness of the realities of modern day slavery. She shares the passion of her resilient heroines to make a difference, and so dedicates both her time and a portion of her book royalties to organizations that fight against human trafficking.
Heather was born and spent her early childhood in Florida, but now calls the beautiful state of Missouri home. Her greatest joy, aside from writing, is to hit the road with her three boys for adventures unknown.
She is the author of Throwaway, Ties that Bind, Jailbird, Suddenly a Spy, Ring of Fire and Tumbleweed. You can find out more about her writing and charitable work on www.heatherhuffman.net.
Heather, your story sounds a lot like mine! I was in HR too and quit a year ago to become a freelance writer. Now I’m living on an island in the Philippines and writing my heart out! I haven’t gotten round to penning a novel, but it’s on my bucket list. Kudos to you for igniting that fire and chasing your dreams!