Friday, August 23, 2013


Ever since I made the decision to try to leave my position at the University of Colorado at the end of the coming academic year, in order to concentrate full time on my writing career, all the signs and portents sent to me by the universe have been extremely discouraging.

Negative signs and portents:

1. My spring royalty check (authors are paid royalties on their book sales twice a year, spring and fall) was the smallest I've received in over a decade: only 20 percent (!!!!) of what I'm used to receiving.

2. Reviews of my two June releases, , Kelsey Green, Reading Queen and Zero Tolerance, have been uniformly positive, but I haven't received a starred review on either title, so there is no reason to think that either one will be a breakout book that will launch me into the next level of greatness and glory.

3. I'm at my writing group retreat up in mountains right now, and I found out yesterday that one of my fellow authors, whom I respect enormously, strongly dislikes my cookie jar book. Of course, others in the group had much more appreciative responses, but I can hardly discount such a negative reaction from a brilliant critic to the book on which I've spent the past six months of my writing life.

4. Over the course of the past year I had to spend $22,000 on HOA-mandated repairs on my already well-maintained and attractive townhouse, so I now have $22,000 less to spend toward paying off my mortgage, a cornerstone of my retirement strategy - and all I ended up with for that $22,00 was a house that looked exactly like it did before.

5. I am going to have some new financial obligations coming from my family situation that will further compromise my ability to live off my writing income when I no longer have my teaching income from CU.

Positive signs and portents? None, so far. None at all.

But do you know what?  I still have my heart set on doing this. And maybe in the end, that's the best sign and portent of all: to be willing to forge ahead despite all warnings. I've realized that I'd rather fail doing what I love than succeed at being someone I'm not. I'd rather lead an authentic life, even with financial limitations and lukewarm professional rewards, than live an inauthentic life with greater security and recognition.

And what's the worst-case scenario if I fail as a full-time writer? I sell my expensive house in Boulder, buy a lovely, comfortably run-down house in Indiana for a fraction of the price (and with no overbearing HOA), and move back to my beloved Greencastle, where I spent the two happiest years of my life. How bad is that?

In the end, what do signs and portents matter, when I can follow the compass of my heart?


  1. You will be great, Claudia! Although I just wanted to note that I am very pro-moving to Indiana ;)

    1. Walks with you and Henry in Bloomington, Dairy Castle, rim trail at the Prindle. . .

  2. Good luck! I say ignore all those bad signs and follow your crazy, wild, creative, writing heart :)

  3. Those aren't signs and portents! They're your doubts and worries manifesting themselves to test your resolve--or at least that's what I told myself when I received similar "signs" from the universe after deciding to unshackle myself from my day job. One of them was an article listing the best day jobs for writers. No. 1? College professor.

    I haven't had even a single twinge of regret and I wager you'll feel the same.

    1. Tracy, as you know, your "Quitting My Day Job" blog helped so much as I got to this point, and I'm going to treasure your comments here and keep them in my heart.

  4. Beautiful post, Claudia. A very wise woman I know says that when you announce an intention like that, the universe puts all kinds of obstacles in your path to make sure it's what you truly want. You've proven that, so now let's intend that the universe takes notice!


  5. Oh, Laurie, this helps so much. Universe, you are on notice now!

  6. karen casale smithAugust 23, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    I think your "worst case scenario" should become your "best case scenario"! Why wait to move back to the place where you've spent 2 very happy years?

    Whatever you decide to do though, I wish you all the luck and happiness in the world!

  7. Funny Friday at DePauw wishes you were back already!