So we closed escrow on the sale of our house yesterday. It was a big and beautiful house, but we never felt entirely at home there. I guess we appreciated it more than we enjoyed it.
We first considered making a change toward the end of last summer. That’s when Elizabeth and I started having our first, tentative conversations about “What do we want in our lives, exactly? What would make us the happiest?” I suspect we weren’t the only ones having those conversations then and I doubt we’re the only ones having them now. Somewhere in there, we came up with what seemed to be a big and daring idea:
What if we sell the house and move out of Southern California? What if we pick a place we like and reduce expenses and I’ll just write novels for a living? It seemed like an exciting thing to consider and we actually investigated a couple places. A good friend of mine hosted us on the east coast for a long weekend and we looked at houses in that area. Loved the area, loved the people, and yet… we weren’t entirely sold on moving at all, for one big reason:
Moving out of LA meant that I would be committing to not working in television.
That was a major decision because, truth be told, I really like working in television — much more so than in movies. TV has a sort of communal “let’s put on a show!” atmosphere that I’ve always loved. Sure, it’s a pressure cooker and there are always big personalities involved but that’s part of the fun. I wasn’t sure I was ready to give all that up, even though I wasn’t currently working on a show. Plus, there was another reason:
We actually like Southern California.
Not everything about it, of course. The expense of the place is horrific. So are some of the people. It’s a crazy grab-bag of reality show cliches and runaway ego and tarnished values. And don’t even get me started on the traffic….
But it’s also a beautiful place to live. The weather is great and there aren’t many areas in the US where you can be on the beach and then drive a couple hours and go skiing. Also, the kids are in a great public school system (the public schools are the primary reason we moved to Calabasas) and Elizabeth has made some good friends with other parents at the school and is very involved.
We finally decided that giving up a major avenue of employment and an area that we liked was a bigger change than we wanted at this point in our lives. But what about that house? Do we need it? Do we want it? On the pro side, selling the house would reduce our expenses and make it much easier to do things we enjoy — like travel and work on projects that might not pay big but were satisfying. On the con side, selling the house would involve… selling the house! That’s a major undertaking.
So… after taking a deep breath… that’s what we decided to do. We listed the house in January, went into escrow fairly quickly and closed yesterday. Where are we now? Still in Calabasas, but we’re renting a house for the time being. It’s beautiful, with hardwood floors and great views. Oddly enough, even though we don’t own it, it feels more like home. The kids will stay in the same schools.
As for what’s next, I’m not entirely sure. We’ll rent for at least a year and then probably buy another house. We have a couple areas in mind. My good friend Don Reo invited me to join him on a TV show that he’s about to run and I’ll likely do that if there’s a deal to be made. Don ran MY WIFE AND KIDS and is just one of those people that influence your life in major (and positive) ways.
Book-wise, NIGHTMARE ACADEMY 3: MONSTER WAR is finished. It will come out in the UK this summer (June, I think) and in the US the following summer — August 2010. For those of you that have been eagerly waiting for its release, I know that probably seems like an eternity but I hope it will be worth it. And, if you absolutely can’t stand it, you can always order the beautiful UK edition off Amazon UK.
So that’s where we are. I debated putting all this in a blog post, but I was getting a lot of concerned email of the “are you alright?” variety and thought I’d just let everyone know what we were up to and why we made the decisions we made. Strangely, in spite of the terrible economy, I’m feeling rather positive right now. I think most of it is the bounce you get from simply doing something, being active…
It has also been great to see how terrific my little family has been through all of these changes. Elizabeth has been miraculous — supportive and cheerful — and the kids have proved themselves to be remarkably resilient. We always think kids are these fragile little things, but they seem to roll with the punches much better than we do. We promised we would buy Alex a fish when the move was over and we bought him one over the weekend. He named it Samurai.
As for the future, I’m imagining a year where I’ll be working on a tv show and writing a new novel — I already have two of them underway. I know I’ve been sort of silent over the last couple months but, as you can see, I had a lot on my plate. And to all of you who expressed support — many thanks. We’re doing great. Sometimes it’s good just to shake things up a little.