Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Second Act and More? by Melinda Curtis

I've always been a curious person. I grew up on a remote sheep ranch and trailed after my grandfather as he repaired fences, our bubble fendered Ford truck, and whatever appliance had stopped working. My parents had divorced and my grandfather was the one my mom called any time something broke. Now that I'm - ahem - older, I look back and think about what has shaped me. It all seems to trace back to those early years.

I didn't have a strong preference for an area of study when I went to college and was funneled into business (America's catch-all). I was lucky to find a professor of consumer research which is...the study of why people do what they do and buy what they buy.

Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers talks about mastering an area of expertise after 10,000 hours of effort. At 2,000 working hours a year (factoring in holidays and vacation) that would mean you'd be at the top of your game if you worked full time in a position for 5 years. It took me about 12, I think. And at that time I began to get restless. It was the worst time to get restless. I had 3 young kids and a husband with a blossoming career!

I cast about for something that was mentally challenging and found writing. It was something I'd loved as a child and I certainly devoured books in my spare time - books of all genres. A local author clued me in to Romance Writers of America, a great resource for learning how to write. Malcolm Gladwell probably wouldn't be happy to hear that I sold my first book after only 3 years of working at it. In hindsight, he was probably right. I hadn't mastered the craft, but like any job you learn as you go (and learn from your mistakes). My second act was born (much better on a marriage than a mid-life crisis).

A little over a year ago, Mr. Curtis was told he needed to lose weight. I had been a casual gym attendee
prior to this - much preferring walking to machines of torture. But this very real health threat had us down at the gym 5-6 days a week. We became gym rats. I found an interesting passion for great teachers and safe workout routines. Several months ago our gym asked me if I was interested in teaching some classes, mostly spin. I don't have Barbie's body, so I took my time answering. I don't have a lot of free time and since teaching requires certification, I took my time answering. Eventually, I did achieve my certification in a few areas. I'm by no means a fanatic, but this does seem as if I'm moving into a different act: a balancing act.

But I'm still curious. And I wonder about the paths others choose. Have you been in the same job/career since high school? Have you grown and changed jobs/careers? Are you settled or restless? I'd love to hear about it. Who knows? I might find something else that interests me.

Melinda Curtis writes the Harmony Valley series of sweet romances for the Harlequin Heartwarming line. Brenda Novak says: “Season of Change has found a place on my keeper shelf”.  Melinda also writes independently published, hotter romances as Mel Curtis. Jayne Ann Krentz says of Blue Rules: “Sharp, sassy, modern version of a screwball comedy from Hollywood's Golden Age except a lot hotter.”  Melinda is married to her college sweetheart, and has three kids in college.  She follows the NFL because one young quarterback is from her hometown, and follows Duke basketball because Mr. Curtis has a man crush on Coach K.  Her latest releases are Gemma Rules, book 3.5 in The Hollywood Rules series, and Season of Change, book 3 in the Harmony Valley series.


  1. The fact that you were curious and open to change may be a big factor here, Mel. Makes life exciting, doesn't it?

  2. Yes, those blessed 10,000 hours.... I love Malcolm Gladwell's stuff. I'm reading his David and Goliath at the mo.

  3. I just retired from my job at the DHS to become a full time writer. This is what I've always wanted to do with my life. This is me. Everything else I've done turned out excellent, but my heart wasn't in it. I'm so happy to be writing full time, even though it took so long to get to the place where I could kiss the day job goodbye.

  4. I fell into teaching fitness classes in a similar sort of way. But it is great to get paid to do what you would do anyway!

  5. You sound a lot like me, Melinda. When I was younger, I changed jobs about every three years. Same industry, same company, different job, different location. I've changed careers three times since leaving that company. I think I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up.