10/31/2014 05:25 pm ET Updated Dec 31, 2014

The Moment I Became Me

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It only takes a moment to make a decision that will impact your life. My moment was a long time in coming.

After teaching International languages and cultures to high school and college students for twenty years, I took a long, hard look at myself and how I was living. I was miserable and certainly wasn't fulfilled. I wanted a major life-change.

Writing has always been my lifelong passion; I started writing stories and news articles in notebooks at the age of eight! Marriage and motherhood made having a "steady job with steady income" a priority so I stayed in education only writing for myself. I was frustrated and unhappy. I had a definite awareness that I wasn't on the right path, but I wasn't sure how to get from where I was, to where I wanted to be.

What happened next, happened in a moment. It was not a milestone but a simple moment of clear, concise thinking. A friend had sent me a saying from the Talmud.

"If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?"

When I read it I knew at that moment that a change in my life was as necessary to me as breathing. I made the decision to reinvent myself as a writer.

I needed to fulfill my passion for writing and to make myself happy. What was I waiting for?! Taking my courage in my hands and teaching only part-time, I began my dream. I sent out many query letters for a book idea I had and received many letters of rejection. I tenaciously kept sending them out. I also contacted anyone and everyone I thought who could possibly help me with my new career.

I began writing for free just to get my name noticed "out there" and eventually someone did take note of my writing. I was contacted by the San Francisco Examiner and asked to write a column on lifestyle. At about the same time the book proposal that I had sent out to literary agents was picked up by Stacey Glick, vice-president of Dystel & Goderich Literary management, and within less than a year, she had found a publisher for my first book. It was a success and led to more books.

My reinvention of my life was in "creating" the person I was meant to be. While it hasn't been all that easy becoming a writer and author -- there were days I cried, beat myself up mentally, and wanted to rage at the world to get my writing noticed -- it was worth every minute of the journey.

Along the way there were marital fights because my guy didn't quite understand that this dream of mine was not a "hobby," it was something I had to do for me. He has now become my biggest fan. My latest book, For I Have Sinned, the first in A Cate Harlow Private Investigation series, is being launched on November 1 and the advance reviews are fantastic. I'm glad I had "my moment" and changed my life.

One of the most positive things about following my dream was that my whole attitude towards work has changed. There were many aspects of teaching that were good but I saw the work as drudgery and stressful because it wasn't where I wanted to be. Now, any stress over deadlines and revisions for writing is good stress because I truly want to do what I am doing!

Reinventing my life was my key to a happier life. To anyone who has a dream I tell you to go for your moment. Never be afraid to try. This is your life and you should be fulfilling your passions, no matter what they are. My moment of realization truly did change my life.

Read the new thriller For I Have Sinned: A Cate Harlow Private Investigation