Earlier this week, I posted a kind of gloom & doom post outlining my anxieties about my upcoming move. As I hope you knew, those aren’t my only feelings. Today I’ll share a much happier posts – the things I’m stoked about!

I Get to Focus on Writing More Than Anything Else.

Writing has always been important to me, but it’s never been allowed to be the star of my life. Even in undergrad, creative writing was my minor so I had to schedule deadlines around other classes and student teaching. As a blogger, I write a lot but only when I have a free chance at work. Even the work on my manuscript, which has been the most serious and important content so far in my life, often takes a backseat to adulting responsibilities. For the first time ever, I’m going to be able to focus on my craft and becoming the best write I can be. I can’t describe to you what a gift that is. It trumps everything else on this list.

I’ll Get to Adventure Around California!

My favorite part of moving to a new place is finding little weekend adventures around where you live. Since Texas is such a huge state, that’s been a bit hard. Still, I’ve seen a lot of parts of Texas that I never would have traveled to if I didn’t live here including San Antonio, Port Aransas Beach, Big Bend National Park, Amarillo, Dallas, Houston and more. California is a big state too, but it has a ton of really diverse stuff that I’ll be able to drive to for a long weekend. I plan to hit up a lot of the natural beauty parks like Death Valley and Big Sur. Also want to venture out to Napa and check that off the bucket list, plus I already have plans to attend the Breeder’s Cup this year with some awesome bloggers. Going to do my best to pack in as many dog-friendly, budget weekends as I can into the next two years.

I Will Have an Opportunity to Push Myself.

We don’t know what we’re really capable in life until we push ourselves. I’m pretty proud of how I’ve been able to continue living after Tim died, but the past two years have been mostly survival mode. I did what I needed to in order to survive. Now, I’m faced with an opportunity to take my life into my own hands and really see what I’m capable of. Let’s hope I can accomplish the things I believe that I can.

I’ll Get to Work with Amazing Writers.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and establish myself in a small community of writer’s in Austin. Through them, I’ve realized how amazing writing can be when it comes to learning from others. I’ve met incredible people that I never would have been exposed to otherwise. At UCR, I’m going to meet even more. Professor wise — Emily Rapp Black, Reza Aslan and Jane Smiley are just a few of the names I’ll be brushing shoulders with (PS one of my school goals is to make Jane Smiley my Thoroughbred buddy… because you know – priorities ;)). Plus, the students coming in to the MFA are from all different backgrounds and talents. In programs like these, I believe you learn as much from your fellow students as you do from professors.

My name is Lauren and I enjoy Sea Lions & adventuring.

I’ll Be Close to LA.

I’ve been told that a lot of UCR MFA students choose to move to LA their second year once they realize Riverside is a shithole after they get acclimated to the area. I’m not sure that’ll be me because truthfully — I’m not a big LA fan. Still, it’s a huge city with a lot of natural beauty, culture and good food. Having LA within a 45-1hr drive away will be really nice for when I’m tired of small town life. Also, from Riverside I can get to the beach in 45 minutes, the mountains in an hour or the desert in an hour. Despite my big plans to explore greater California, there should be a lot of neat stuff within arms reach for me to take the dogs on adventures or check out something cool in the city.

I’ll Really Start the Next Chapter.

The past two years has been an exercise in pushing through and pondering about what I want to do next in life. Before Tim died, I didn’t think I’d ever have the opportunity to really start over… and honestly didn’t think I’d ever want that clean slate. But now things are different, and I am changed by the things that have happened to me. Sitting at a desk and creating video game landing pages isn’t offering me what I need out of life. So many times I’ve thought, written about here and chatted with friends about how I didn’t know what I was going to do next. In truth, I still don’t know what will happen. There are a lot of different paths away from this degree, and one of them is right back where I am now working in the tech world. Still, I have a direction and a goal. This move and the new opportunities ahead are a special gift. It’s not a do over, because I don’t regret the choices I’ve made — but it is a do next.

I love Austin so much that it takes a lot to get me excited about leaving the best place I’ve ever lived. The opportunity to study creative writing is that “a lot” for me. Everything else is just an added bonus, and despite the fears I outlined earlier this week — I really am excited.

16 COMMENTS

  1. One thing that you’ll find about living in California is that it’s shape is very deceptive. It’s a lot longer than people realize. It’s quite common to hop in your car and drive for 8 hours and realize you didn’t get as far as you thought you would. East to west is easy. North to south, not so much. We’re heading to San Diego for 5 days next week. It will take us nearly 5 hours, and we’re already in the bottom third of the state!

    One doesn’t have to drive so far for fun though. Californians like to joke that something great is always within two hours, no mater where you live, and it’s true. From Bakersfield, everything is about two hours away (or less): LA, the mountains, the beach, the desert, forests, even wine country (we like Paso Robles even more than Napa).

    You’ll have a great time living here. California has to be the most diverse state in the country, and if you’re willing to put in 2 or 3 hours, you can see a lot of it! Don’t hesitate to call when you venture north. :0)

    • Yeah, it’s deceivingly huge. I guess living in Texas has given me a lot more tolerance for weekend trips. I’ll happily drive 8-10 hours in a day so long as I have at least 2-3 nights in the location before driving again. Will definitely give you a shout if I head up your way 🙂

  2. Aw yeah! Those are all GREAT things to be excited about! And they’re things that will keep you motivated in the long term, which is really the important thing. I love that you’re embracing making life what you want it to be, instead of letting it just happen to you. That’s brave, and really exciting. (Plus, I’m selfishly really excited to see more of your writing. I love your written voice so much.)

  3. Starting over can be so scary but once the journey has started it all becomes very exciting. I think you will have an amazing time in California 🙂

  4. Do next…a great way to frame your adventure in writing and exploration. I hope we get to tag along. I absolutely love reading your blog.

  5. My hubby lets writing take a front row seat in my responsibilities, because he’s excited about me having the opportunity to be a published author.

    I want to attend the Breeders’ Cup too – just not in California, LOL!! Hopefully next year in Kentucky .

    I’m working on a book about A.P. Indy and his offspring, and then I plan on a romance novel based on a western song “A Border Romance”. And then hopefully I can do a book on Texas Bling starting November 2019, but we’ll see. 🙂

    Like you, I moved to Texas, but it was so long ago I can barely remember what Canada (yes, Canada!) was like. And I could never imagine moving away – especially to California.

    I’m glad you enjoy your writing and I hope to read your book one day! Check out my blog if you don’t mind – and my FB page. Right now there’s a deal going for when I get 100 likes, five people get a signed, free copy of my A.P. Indy book. I hope to publish it in November, and it’s what I used to win NanoWrimo 2016 and also Camp NanoWrimo April 2017. Lol, I’m on the third draft and should be done that in time to win Camp NanoWrimo July 2017.

    Happy trails and hopefully you enjoy this school!

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