Living Dangerously, by Jennie Lucas
Tomorrow is the day.
I’m kind of scared.
Or maybe a lot scared. I’ve been dreading this day since I turned 38. Actually, I’ve been dreading it since I was a teenager. I know some people stress about turning 30, but for me, 30 was no big deal.
40 is different.
Tomorrow, I will not only be older than all the Presents heroines, but older than the heroes. Statistically speaking, I will be in the middle of my life in a way that no amount of creative denial can deny. Like many of you, I grew up on romance novels and always knew I wanted that big happy ending – husband, work I loved, children.
Marrying the man of my dreams, settling down, writing for Harlequin Presents, having children – it’s amazing to me how all my dreams came true. I’m gobsmacked by that, and deeply grateful.
But now…I need some
new impossible dream to strive for.
What will that dream be? Honestly, I have no clue. I went to Seattle for a plot group weekend with three other authors in March and my mind went blank when they asked me to clearly state my goals for the upcoming year. I don’t have a goal. I just have a feeling.
I want to live more boldly.
I want to stop being afraid to take chances.
And I want to stop worrying what other people think of me. (Because you guys know the truth – I’m a total dork. I could trip over my own feet. So who do I think I’m fooling?)
Which do you think is harder – pursuing your dreams? Or even figuring out what they are in the first place?
I was thinking about that last summer, as I wrote my new Presents, A Night of Living Dangerously. Though she’s only in her 20s, Lilley Smith is feeling like a failure. She recently moved to San Francisco, determined to spend time with her new boyfriend, and (more importantly) to start a handmade jewelry business. But once she’s in San Francisco she finds herself avoiding both. Instead, she just spends all her time at her dead-end job, as the file clerk for an international luxury jewelry company, and trying to avoid the notice of her incredibly handsome CEO, Prince Alessandro Caetani.
Does that make Lilley a coward? Or is her body trying to tell her what her mind hasn’t accepted yet – that she was pursuing the wrong man, and the wrong dream?
When I was 20 years old, I once worked as a file clerk, too. I’d dropped out of college to become engaged to a man who was completely wrong for me. I felt broke and hopeless, spending eight hours a day alone, filing numbered files in a windowless room with concrete walls.
Twenty years later, so much has changed. As I type this, I’m sitting in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, overlooking the casino, where I see excited, hungry-eyed people playing desperately to win their heart’s desire.
What is my own heart’s desire now? I don’t know. I don’t.
But I will.
And I have a question, particularly for those of you gorgeous women who are over 40. How have your lives gotten better? What do you love the most? Do you find you care less what other people think? Do you feel more free to be who you really are?
What do you wish someone had told you, the day before you turned 40?
P.S. The person who writes my favorite comment will receive a copy of Lilley Smith’s first story, when she was working as her cousin’s housekeeper in the south of France (in my novella The Count’s Secret Baby, in the August 2011 anthology The Secret Baby Scandal with awesome writer Kate Hewitt). So another good reason to give me your best advice – please!