After decades of procrastination, I finally wrote my first novel, Ready to Fall, in a minivan outside my daughter's 5:00 a.m. swim practices, before I went to work each day as a schoolteacher in my community.
I had majored in film and creative writing in college, and I somehow fully expected that a brilliant novel would emerge from me the day after graduation. When that didn't happen, I felt like an imposter. So I did a lot of creative things over a lot of years, but essentially I buried my dream of becoming a novelist.
One day it just hit me that I might live my whole life and never once go for it. I think this happens to a lot of women in midlife. My friend Jill, who's a single mom and a talented watercolorist, reinvented herself as a designer of ceramics, clothing and linens. And Charlotte, who does my hair and makeup for special events, owns two businesses-and is now working on a third.
So in early 1999,1 dusted off my dream and finally wrote that novel. I didn't have a single connection in the publishing world at the time, so I bought a copy of a how-to book called Writer's Market and, in an incredible stroke of luck, I sold my novel all by myself to the first publisher who asked to read it.
A year later, I had a published book, some great reviews and a fabulous new literary agent who sold my second and third novels to a bigger publisher. And then the right movie producer walked into the right bookstore, and my second novel, Must Love Dogs, was made into a major motion picture starring Diane Lane and John Cusack. Amazing, right? But because I hear from thousands of readers through my website, I know there are moms everywhere who are changing careers, fulfilling dreams. Inspired by them, I wrote my third novel, Multiple Choice, about a mother and daughter who go to college at the same time.
What I love about big life changes is that you have no idea what adventures are waiting for you just around the corner. Take me, for instance. Months away from turning 50-a birthday that justifies all sorts of aberrant behaviors-I was invited to go out to L. A. for the table read (when the cast gets together and reads through the script for the first time) for Mitsf Love Dogs. I could easily have gone alone. I'd already been on two national book tours by myself-and I can tell you, there is no more blissful experience for a mother of teenagers than having a hotel room, and the remote control, all to herself. But when I weighed how much more professional I'd look going to La-La Land alone versus how much fun I'd have sharing this adventure of a lifetime with my family, the mom part of me won by a landslide. So all four of us flew to Hollywood. The script reading took place at a gorgeous Brentwood mansion, and by the time the valet girls with the hot pink neck scarves opened our car door, I was ready to kill my whole family. …