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Friday, January 7, 2011


A Change of Pace

A long time ago, and in a faraway place, I worked as an accountant and dreamed of becoming a writer. More, I wanted to be a published writer. And it just wasn’t happening.

So I took a long look at the things that were stopping me.

The most obvious was lack of time. I’m in awe of people of who manage a full time job and still find time to write. I found it hard. My job was intense, and I’d often come home exhausted, wanting nothing more than a glass of wine and a good book—somebody else’s good book.

But it wasn’t only time to write, but time to sit back and think about writing, about where I was going, what I wanted to write. I’d been writing contemporary romance, submitting and receiving rejections, quite positive rejections: they liked my writing style, but the stories just weren’t right. I needed to try something different, but wasn’t sure what.

And even if I did manage to squeeze in time between job and family, it was hard to concentrate with so many distractions, or to find inspiration in a life full of routines. I was commuting; which meant long days, often leaving in the morning before dawn and coming home at night after dusk. It was hard to be inspired.

But I still wanted to be a writer.

Something had to change.

The change I came up with was pretty drastic. I gave up my job as an accountant, sold up everything in the UK, and moved to southern Spain in search of the sun and a more relaxed way of life.

I found both, and now live on a small almond farm in a area known as Las Alpujarras; a spectacularly beautiful region that lies between the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the north and the Mediterranean, far below us, to the south.

It’s a remote area of mountains and steep rugged gorges, where mules still plough the small vineyards, and mains electricity is something they have in the towns. We have no near neighbors and the ‘local’ shop is nearly an hour away. I share the farm with my husband, my horse, two goats, three dogs, three cats, and a handful of chickens.
Those are the good bits!

I couldn’t write this without pointing out that there are numerous downsides to my way of life. We have very little money, no mains electricity so we rely on solar – fine as long as the sun shines. It also took us three years to get any sort of internet connection, and if it goes down, it takes forever to get back up again.

We spent the first few years here renovating our dilapidated farmhouse, but once that was completed, I settled to a life of picking almonds, being inspired, and writing.

Thankfully, these days, remote doesn’t have to mean cut off. The internet keeps me connected with other writers and allows me to do research without leaving my mountain hideaway. I’m a member of two online writing groups, Writers Abroad, a group of expat writers from all over the world, and Passionate Critters, a fantastic group of romance writers. Both provide me with loads of inspiration, encouragement, and constructive criticism.

I now write paranormal and sci-fi romance, and almost a year ago today my first novella, Tiger of Talmare, was published by Shadowfire Press. Since then I’ve had four other novellas released and two more contracted. My latest release is Mid-Winter Magic, from Decadent Publishing, a Christmas story, and part of an anthology written together with the ladies at Passionate Critters.

Most people can’t, or wouldn’t even want to make the sort of dramatic changes I made, but it’s perhaps worth looking at your life, identifying the things that hold you back, and seeing what adjustments might bring your writing dreams a little closer to reality.


Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. 

Nina's writing mixes romance with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.


Debora Dennis said...

Packing up your life and moving to an almond farm in spain sounds so wonderfully romantic, and yet I know it isn't all sunshine and roses. But this is such an inspiring story and I'm glad your internet works most of the time!
Congrats on all your writing success - I know there will be plenty more in your future! :)

R.M.Gilbert said...

Nina, you're a fabulous author. The writing world is better with you in it. It's inspiring to read about people who are willing to make BIG changes to live their dreams.

I wish you much success.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Wow. Talk about going after your dream! Very inspiring! I wish you much continued success!

Nina Croft said...

Thanks people - no it's definitely not all sunshine, but luckily a lot of it is!

Kit said...

Nina- Your story is an inspiration to all! At the end of the day, what do you really need to live, but seeing the sunset, a fluffy dog by your side, good friends, a glass of wine, and something to write with? I couldn't do what you've done, but I admire you for doing it! Here's hoping we see more books by Nina Croft crafted from Spain!

Dawn said...

Wonderful story, Nina. I so admire people brave enough to take big leaps and follow their dreams.