Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


What is it about big goals that freaks people out?

Why does one always want to burst the bubble of the dreamer?

After weeks of persistent headaches, I decided it was time to start taking care of myself again. So I went to a massage therapist–a new one who was much closer to my home.

As he worked on releasing tension in the most painful parts of my body, he asked seemingly harmless questions–all the better to get to know his new client. Somehow, an innocent conversation about gardening led to my intention to move to the tropics in a few years.

“Not that I don’t like it here,” I hastened to explain, intuiting that he was one of those people who was blissfully happy where he was. “The climate just isn’t for me. I want a different lifestyle, too, where no one cares what I’m wearing, what car I drive, or how big my house is.”

“Curacao isn’t perfect either, you know,” he said, responding to something I’d never claimed. “It gets terrible hurricanes.”

“Actually, it isn’t on the hurricane belt. That’s one of the reasons we chose it. It sometimes gets tropical storms in the aftershock, but it doesn’t get the hurricanes.”

“Well, with climate change, you never know what they’re going to do,” he argued, using my back as a map to plot out the potential route of a future hurricane in my potential new home. Then he caught himself. “Not that I’m trying to discourage you.”

Why do people always say that when that’s exactly what they’re trying to do? I’m surprised he didn’t tell me my book wouldn’t sell and that I should just go ahead and self-publish while he was at it.

I’m used to people telling me that my dreams will never happen. I’m just not used to having to pay for it. Needless to say, I won’t be going to that massage therapist again. I wish I’d been more open about telling him exactly what I thought of his “advice”.

I can understand people being skeptical about my desire to write books for a living. Unless you know someone who’s achieved that ambition, it must seem akin to winning the lottery or becoming a rock star. I get that. But now even moving away is unrealistic and doomed? I feel safe telling people this particular goal, even people I work with, because I know no one believes it will ever happen. Lots of people say they’re going to escape to a tropical island, but few ever do.

I’ve never understood why people will persist in arguing with you about your own plans for your life. Who knows you better than you, after all? When I was in high school, I had a girl friend who would always dispute my statement that I was not going to have children.

“You’ll change your mind,” she insisted. “Everyone does.”

As I reached my late twenties, and then my thirties, and still proclaimed that I had absolutely no desire to have a baby–that my maternal instinct was, in fact, limited to animals, the sentiment changed somewhat, and I was told:

“I felt exactly the same way as you…until I had kids.”

Well, there’s the difference. I won’t have kids unless I feel I really want them. And sorry, that just isn’t happening.

I know all the sayings, all the cliches: Life is what happens while you’re making other plans; men plan, God laughs.

But He really doesn’t have to go to the trouble, does He? Not when he has massage therapists to do the work for him.

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  1. Marjolaine Hébert

    When I left corporate life four years shy of full pension to pursue goals true to who I am, I was bombarded by people’s negativities. Tired of my life being fragmented in a public forum (sans ma permission!) I changed my response to, I’m off to ride the big rigs. That, they seemed okay with;-)
    Perhaps the feedback we get is from being audacious enough to remind people with our actions of just how short their life is..?

  2. Story Teller

    Thanks for your comment, Marjolaine…I LOVE your theory. I do sense some jealousy behind the remarks, or even a whiff of “who does she think SHE is?” I once had a “friend” who told me I wouldn’t have a bestseller with my first book. I guess he was a closet psychic who was giving me a prophecy for free…how generous. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to prove him right or wrong. I’ve been my own worst enemy when it comes to getting my stuff out there.

    Were the goals you pursued your acting career? Or something else? It’s great to hear of someone having the courage to follow her dreams. It takes guts!

  3. Marjolaine Hébert

    Thank you, Holli – and I agree about the jealousy thing. Don’t let the b* get you down 😉
    Once I took the plunge, I ticked my dreams off, making up for those decades in a cubicle. I spent the first year as a musician full-time; then acting (sadly..no one writes roles for 40something women-we apparently don’t have a life..:) I spent time with visual arts, dancing, writing (also very important to me!), many years helping inner-city students to read and write until starting my own tutoring business. I do lots of narration, I promote wellness through the arts, etc, etc. It sounds like I’m babbling .. but it’s that I had no trouble finding my heart once I decided
    to listen.

  4. Angela

    People crush other people’s dreams because they are either jealous or scared, or both. Probably both. The idea of stepping away from the “norm” to follow a dream is exciting and scary. Not something many people are able to do. These people are voicing their personal fears of the idea of pushing boundaries and stepping out of the box without a safety net. They are, on the other hand also totally jealous that you are actually making your dreams happen. That takes courage, and how many people in your life would you actually describe as brave?

    Don’t take these negative comments to heart Holli, take them as a compliment to your bravery to not just dream, but do. I think your dreams are not only fantastic, but totally achievable. AND, even IF Curacao was in a hurricane zone, so the frig what!

  5. Story Teller

    Thanks, Angela. Sorry I am so late in responding…I missed this one. But you’re absolutely right, and I appreciate the kind words.


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