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2012. HIGHS & lows. Writing a Book. Pro-blogging.And Finding and Losing myself in the process.

Have you ever “changed” for someone because that’s how you thought they wanted you to be? Well I think I can safely say, that much of my blogging in 2012 reflected just that. It was my first year solely working as a blogger and writer and I’m pretty sure I lost who I was in the interim.

The irony there is that my blog, as cliche as it may sound, was the thing that led me to find who I was again after so many years feeling utterly lost.

But 2012 marked a great number of highs and lows for me professionally, for the husband professionally, and for “us” together as well.

The ball started rolling in June of 2011, when I had given notice to my then boss at the art gallery I’d worked at for over a decade, that I’d be leaving come year’s end. I had been making a relatively stable income from blogging for a few years prior, and decided that I’d finally bite the bullet and focus all my energy on my growing business. I’d had the “self employed” and “freelancer” title on my resume for almost all of my adult life, so the fear and risk that came with the decision was minimal, in that respect.

To my surprise, in October of 2011, I was contacted by an editor at a publishing house, and offered a book deal. Once all the i’s were dotted and t’s crossed, my time instantly became precious and I ended up leaving the art gallery a month earlier than planned to begin my 8 month journey of writing my first book… and blogging daily throughout.

The book wasn’t my idea per se, but I had the knowledge to author it and I was thrilled and terrified to begin actually writing it. With a slew of deadlines ahead of me and only given the tentative title and a slight idea of what direction the book was to head in, I felt an immense amount of pressure to “get it right” and obviously, {hopefully} write a successful book that I was proud of.

My first deadline was a short thirty days after all agreements had been made and contracts signed; I had to send my editor the book’s chapter list and a detailed outline of each as it would read in the book. Once I sent that in, I was paid my first check, one of 3 to simultaneously follow each completed deadline. When I received my first check, it finally, actually felt real. Beyond blogging and internet writing, I was considered a paid writer, and I could officially call myself one {though I still have a difficult time saying it}.

But while I was extremely happy to be a paid writer, I didn’t agree to write a book for the money alone. I did it for the challenge, the excitement, the new life adventure, and the recognition of being a published author {and maybe, hopefully, help a few women as a result}. Still a bit baffled by the whole thing, I reached out to a published author of mystery novels whom I had worked with at the art gallery for some advice, and she assured me that if an editor/publisher had found me and was paying me to write a piece, that it was legit.

My excitement surged, as did my stress.

In the same time period, I was also contacted by a known documentary producer & a writer on a few TV shows who had joined forces and were now working together on a new project they thought I’d be a good fit for. It was a pseudo-reality show in the sense that I would play myself, as would the other two girls who would accompany me on it, but it was more about fashion, DIY, thrifting, and reconstructing garments for guests on the show VS what we do in our “real lives”. So I met with the producers and the other women and the ball started rolling on that as well. I never felt the need to share that here because the “industry” is very fickle. I learned in my days of working as an actor in my late teens and early twenties not to really get excited about anything ever in that arena.

It was December 2011 now, just a few weeks after I turned in my outline for my book and in two weeks more, my first chapter was due in its entirety. It was more of a “sample chapter” though and while I put an extreme amount of pressure on myself to get it done right, I think my editor knew that it was more of a rough draft than an actual “first chapter”. But really, I was winging it because I had no idea how the book-writing process was supposed to flow. I didn’t write a book then try to get it published. I didn’t have a literary agent, a manager, a PR person or anyone else behind me or working with me through it besides my husband.

And 2012 started off with a bang! I had a new job title: Full-time Professional Blogger, Writing her First Book with great new projects in the works. Exciting stuff!

Mid January, I had also accepted a few other writing/blogging/internet positions that would extend through the first two months of the year {mistake No1}, and somehow got lost in the stress of not having enough time to write my book. At the same time, I decided to begin writing posts on my blog occasionally from a different perspective and to go in a more “professional” direction with it {mistake No2}.

My poor poor husband… Jan-March are really my most challenging months of each and every year, regardless of what’s actually going on in my life. I’m not sure why but they prove to be confusing and chaotic and anxiety inducing, filtered with teary-eyed outbursts. To add this new stress at the beginning of what I already know are my worst months, was not entirely the best decision I’ve ever made.

In the midst of writing my book, writing my blog, working for BlogHer, among other blog-related jobs and opportunities that I just couldn’t refuse, I was working on filming a “teaser” and then later, a pilot episode of the TV show for the producers to pitch to networks. While moments of space and time were very fun and exciting, I was so extremely stressed out for the first half of the year, my poor husband must have witnessed mini to major breakdowns at least once a month or more, until our trip to Palm Springs, mid Summer.

My final book deadline of my finished manuscript, was originally set for the end of April, then pushed to May because I had to photograph and re-photograph my body-type models, who were also my friends and family. I had so much fun styling them with clothes from their own closets, simultaneously opening a whole new world of outfits for them to wear, I could have made it a full-time job too.

In May, my final month to finish, I also added a ridiculous amount of pressure by doing my 30 Days 30 Ways to wear Jeans & a White T-shirt challenge. Because when I have an idea, I HAVE TO DO IT NOW and even in the midst of my stress and pressure, I couldn’t let it wait for another month to do it. I had to start RIGHT THEN! {my resolutions post will explain this personality trait a bit}. I knew I would be a maniac during those last few months trying to get everything finished, but to add that on top of my regular daily blog posts was just ridiculous {mistake No3: though it paid off, my blog averaged about 1 million page views that month}.

But the time had come where I had finally finished my manuscript and my photoshoots and my photo edits and I sent everything in to my editor and finally took my first deep breath of the entire year and relaxed. I vowed to take the next month off to just do a lot of nothing {though I still blogged daily & worked for BlogHer} but simply not having the stress of the book over my head was enough to feel like a weight had been lifted and I had a hint of freedom. {And I JUST WROTE A BOOK! I was truly excited about my accomplishment}

* * * SUMMER * * *

The husband and I had been house hunting on and off since 2007, but decided for many reasons, 2012 was our year to buy. However, the real estate available in Los Angeles was still not anything we were interested in sinking all the money we had saved over the previous 5 years in our “house fund” into. We really wanted more bang for our buck and to have some money left over even after putting 20% down on a house. Since I could technically work from anywhere and the husband was heading in a new direction career-wise as well, we decided to start looking outside of LA, within a two hour or less driving distance so we could still get back for work if we needed to. {You can see/read a little bit of our search in my House Hunting posts.}

Since the husband went to college in Vegas and my dad lived in Vegas for a while and our favorite vacation spot is Vegas, it was kind of always on our list, but a bit further than we’d like to go. So first stop on our realistic list was Palm Springs and since I had just finished my book manuscript, and the TV pilot had been shot, it was the perfect time for a little vacay to see if we could handle the desert heat.

Unfortunately, we went during one of the hottest months of the year, July. And though we had a fabulous trip and fell in love with Palm Springs, we realized every second our bodies weren’t contained in an air conditioned room, we weren’t ready for that kind of 122 degree heat… so we got out the kitchen, so to speak.

It was near the middle of July when we returned from our Summer vacation, and I had been emailing back and forth with my editor about extra celebrity style images and image captions and I hadn’t heard back. She had also sent over a few cover options and while we were away, I had a few creative ideas of which direction to go in. She wasn’t one to respond the next day, but after almost a year of working with her, I knew her emailing habits and it seemed like more than a few weeks had gone by without word. I didn’t really think anything of it but as each day passed, I started to feel a pit in my stomach… something just wasn’t right.

On the last day of the month, July 31, 2012 I got this response…

“I want to apologize for my silence lately. I’m sure you’ve been wondering why you haven’t heard from me. I wish I could offer a better explanation than the one I have to give, which is that Rock Your Assets has been put on hold —we won’t be publishing it in the spring as planned. This has no bearing whatsoever on your work, which has been consistently impressive, and the speed with which you did those photo shoots and rewrites was truly incredible. The decision came out of uncertainty that we would be able to differentiate the book enough from magazine and Internet instruction on the subject matter. We have to be certain that our sales team can find the target market—and ensure that it is a large one—and while we felt confident that we could do so a year ago, since then we have had structural changes, and of course publishing in general has changed as well. I do think there is an audience for the book, and I am hopeful that we will find it and, when that happens, schedule a publication date.”

My heart sunk.

all. that. work.

all. that. time.

for nothing.

It took me four days to finally respond to her email and nearly four months to work through my emotions surrounding it. {note: my editor was amazing to work with from beginning to end, and only kind emails followed. I was paid for all of my work, but I felt absolutely torn in half.}

I told everyone. I blogged about it. I spent 8 months of my life researching and writing and editing and photographing and stressing out about it… I couldn’t tell anyone about this news. I felt ashamed. Embarrassed. Like a total failure. Only my husband knew. And even now, only two other people know. Eight months later, I am finally able to share it here. My book may never get published. I guess that just happens.

My husband, a writer as well, reassured me that it was normal and that I was not a complete failure even though every bit of my being felt like I was. He reminded me of all the screenplays written that never actually turn into movies. And even the scripts that are written, only to be handed to another writer entirely to re-write the original idea into a movie. He kept reminding me that I was a paid writer and that this happens all the time. But deep inside I was still embarrassed.

It hit me hard. Looking back, I was depressed for a few months really, ready to cry at the drop of a hat, emotional, and feeling like a complete failure. And then slowly and randomly, our home search resumed and gained my focus, helping me step away from the hit and led us to looking at houses by lakes. I think at least once a month for the entire time I’ve been blogging, I’ve stated in one outfit post or another, how much I hated LA traffic and how I wanted to move to a small town and live on a lake. So we started looking at lake towns just outside of LA, and even though I’d been to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear and other lakes all over California as a kid, it never really occurred to me that we could actually “live” by one rather than just vacation there.

So we did a few home searches online and fell in love with a house in Lake Arrowhead. Unlike our Palm Springs trip, we actually contacted the realtor this time, set a date, and drove up for a little Summer vacay by the lake. When we met with Keith {our realtor who we ADORE} the following day, we had about 18 houses lined up that we wanted to see. So we hopped in our Prius and followed Keith and is adorable dog Olive in his convertible Mercedes with the top down, up and around the lake and back again, walking into log cabin after log cabin, not totally impressed with what we were seeing. After vetoing the original house we loved, we began to think that maybe this wasn’t going to be the place for us. And then we drove onto the bumpiest road we’d been on all day and about 20 seconds into it, the husband said, Yeah, No. This is not going to work….

But when we pulled up and realized there were two roads leading to this house, the husband opened up to it and then I saw the 1950’s park sized playground and it him me! This was one of the houses that was very low on our list, that I really didn’t want to see because I hated the way the exterior looked. As I reluctantly walked in, we both looked at each other saying well yeah, this could definitely work. And that was before we had even gone upstairs. We both agreed on everything in this house but had at least 7 more houses on our list to see. Hopeful, back in the car we went, but as we looked at each of the following homes, neither of us could get “this one” out of our heads, comparing each to it. We asked Keith to take us back one final time before sunset at the end of our day just to get another look at it.

At dusk, we said our goodbye’s and went back to our hotel suite, sat on our balcony overlooking the lake, and couldn’t think of one good reason not to buy this house. {see our vacation photos here}

Even though it was not an optimal time to buy, right around the holidays, the husband had given his 6 month notice at his establishment {which meant handing over his part of the business} in June as I had the year before, saying he’d be done by the end of the year. He would finally get to begin his journey as a full-time screenwriter in 2013 but this also meant that he’d be off of payroll and that banks wouldn’t give us a home loan, even if we had 40% as a down. In other words, we had to buy now or sit on our savings for another 2-4 years.

We added another day onto our vacation trip hoping it would help us decide. But really, we knew in our hearts what we were going to do. The following day, before leaving the mountain, we stopped by Keith’s office and signed all the paperwork just in case we decided to do it, it would be done… and an hour and a half later, when we arrived back in our house in Sherman Oaks, we texted him to put in the offer on the house.

This was October 1st, about a month after I had been completely let down about my book and it gave me new focus. Once they accepted our offer and escrow began, anyone who’s purchased a house {especially in these crazy times where any little thing could keep you from getting a loan} knows just how stressful and exciting the journey is. By November 15th, we had driven up and down the mountain at least 4 times and finally went to sign the papers and get our keys. We bought our first house… up a mountain, in the middle of the woods, by a lake, and we were in love.

signing escrow documents

* * * CUT TO NOW * * *

As we are settling nicely into our new life, I find myself more introspective than usual, which is confusing but exciting as well. This usually means a growth and awakening is in my near future, and I’m so ready for that. And I think I’m finally feeling like myself again as far as blogging is concerned. Something strange happens when you begin to gain a following; you become more protective of your vulnerability, build walls to fend off mean comments, and hide behind what society says you should be. And that’s not me. Combined with the “professional” road I was successfully failing at, turned my blog into something that wasn’t mine, but what I thought it was supposed to be. I removed my own personality almost entirely fearing judgement from trolls. I was creating posts and DIYs with everyone else in mind instead of what I wanted to do and even bored myself.

The great challenge of our world is to live a life of contentment, regardless of what other people do, say, think or believe. ~ Dr. Jodi Prinzivalli

It didn’t need to be more “professional” just because I was a “pro” blogger. It needed to be more “me” because it was and is “mine”, and that’s what makes it special. It’s my perspective I’m interested in writing about, not what’s already posted and published elsewhere on this vast internet.

It took me a while to even realize I was going about it the wrong way and I have to admit that I’m starting to finally feel “at home” again here in this space. This post is about 50000 words longer than I originally intended, but I think it’s time I brought a little bit of myself back here in writing rather than just photos for a change… because it actually feels refreshing again.

Still no real news on the TV show or the book… but I’ll keep you posted from now on.


Maegan Tintari

LA native & lifestyle blogger Maegan Tintari writes daily at sharing beauty & style secrets, including fashion DIYs, how-to nail art manicures, hair tutorials, recipes & home decorating ideas, as well as a look into her personal life, her journey & battle with infertility & recent relocation to the mountains by a lake in search of a better life with her adorable French Bulldog brothers, Trevor and Randy.

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