Some celebrity deaths hit harder than others. This week, I felt like friends had died when I heard the news that David Bowie and Alan Rickman had passed. If there’s anything we can learn from both men it’s to live life without fear.
Being a romance writer had never been in my plans. But when I lost my job at the end of 2008, I started reading romance novels as a way to escape from a world that wasn’t hiring me. Then the idea for the Kellington series popped into my head and I began writing the first one.
After being rejected by every major publisher in New York, I decided to self-publish on my agent’s recommendation. I was scared and embarrassed since I thought everyone would think I wasn’t good enough to be published. That was back in 2011, when self-publishing was still thought of as that thing eccentric people did (guilty!). But in the end, I began telling people. My friends were great about it and my frenemies were quiet enough that I didn’t hear too much ridicule.
I couldn’t afford to care about the naysayers because I was in desperate shape financially. So, the decision to self-publish wasn’t brave as much as necessary. I needed to do something to bring in some income.
As I neared 50 and had a (drunken) life evaluation one night, I decided it was time to mourn the things that would never come to be — like having children — but pursue the things which could still happen. For me, it was my first love, acting. I was living in Los Angeles and working part-time in an office with an understanding boss who would allow me to take time off for auditions. Provided I got any. I knew the odds were against me but I really didn’t want to wake up at 60 and wonder why I hadn’t tried.
Pursuing an acting career at 50 was a really tough thing to announce to the world on Facebook and I’m sure a lot of people made fun of me. Three years later, I still haven’t booked anything major, but I’ve never had this much fun. I’ve also learned that hearing no isn’t the worst thing that can happen professionally. And I hear it a lot. It’s better than looking on from the sidelines wishing I were brave enough to give it a go.
Both David Bowie and Alan Rickman were incredibly talented. They were bound to make it. If we take anything away from their deaths, besides the fact cancer is the fucking worst, it’s the power of being brave. David Bowie continually reinvented himself, taking huge chances along the way and always being true to who he was. Alan Rickman had a terrific theater career before he exploded in America as everyone’s favorite German bank robber. (To this day, I smile at the “Nakatomi” building every time I drive by.) Alan Rickman’s acting career as a middle-aged man demonstrated that you should never think the best times are behind you.
Plus, they were both smoking hot.
I once read an article that said the secret to happiness as an adult was to think about what you loved doing as a kid/teenager, then do that in some form as a grown-up. Not everyone has the luxury of pursuing their own dreams professionally when they have others to care for. But, in the end, my loss of not having had children gave me the freedom to pursue my dreams professionally. And one day I’ll think about the whole “when God shuts a door, He opens a window thing” but I’ve already cried enough so it won’t be today.
Please find the time to do that thing you loved doing as a kid or you adore now. Life is incredibly short and you have to take the opportunities to make yourself happy.
Be brave. And think about the inspiration of Alan Rickman and David Bowie.