This is all Victor Hugo’s fault.

In 1862, Hugo published a little story called Les Miserables. The book would become a bestseller, a Broadway production, and a touring musical that would land in Tampa in 1998. My mom and I would dress up and drive 50 minutes from the small town where I grew up to attend. And I would become obsessed.

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen the musical, listened to the album (the original Broadway production version is my favorite, though I love the extended songs on the first London recording), or how many times I’ve watched the video where the cast just kinda stands around and sings.

I knew the story would make for a great movie. And, as crazy as it sounds, I figured that if a movie was made, I would be a part of it.

les_miserable_people sing with HA

Yup, that’s me in the bottom right. The producers knew I loved Les Mis so they called and said I could wave a flag in the movie.

Sure, I can’t sing, I have zero production experience, and I live on the opposite side of the country from Hollywood. But surely – SURELY – my passion for the musical would land me on that set. I waited for someone to call and offer me a spot on the catering team, or ask for my help in the wardrobe department.

But the call never came and in 2012 the Les Mis movie came out. Without me.

I realized I’d miss a lot in life if I sat around waiting for the phone to ring.

Les-Miserables_square

You had one job, Javert.

That’s when this journey began.

Sure, the dream of working on the Les Mis movie may have been a little far-fetched. (Okay, very far-fetched.) But if I had had the guts to pursue it then maybe – just maybe – I could have made something happen. I mean, someone needs to sweep the barricades at the end of the day.

I started reflecting on my life. Was there anything else I was putting off pursuing? Anything else I really wanted to do and would regret missing out on?

Of course there was: travel writing.

It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I first started traveling in college. I would bring notebooks on trips and fill them with stories, notes about the destination, and detailed descriptions of what we ate, drank and experienced. All my disposable income went to traveling. All my free time went to planning the next trip.

It was time to take action and make this dream happen.

I started looking for opportunities and found some really cool companies that needed freelance writers. I attended travel blogging conferences and talked to other writers who were successfully freelancing full time. I started this blog … and people read it!

Friends, your support over the past two years has been a huge source of motivation. I couldn’t have done this without you guys.

So thanks to you all and to our buddy Victor Hugo, today’s my last day at the 9 to 5. For my birthday I’m giving myself the chance to pursue a freelance travel writing career.

Helen Anne Travis

Me in my new office with one of my fuzzy new officemates. Yes, I stole the nameplate from my current job. Yes, I’ll give it back if they every hire someone else named Helen Anne Travis.

Today at 5pm (let’s be honest, it will probably be closer to 4pm, maybe even 3:30), I’ll say goodbye to the awesome internet marketing team I’ve worked with for the past five years and hope my 1999 Saturn will last long enough for one more commute home.

Tomorrow morning I’ll wake up a year older and get to work on all the projects, pitches and stories I haven’t had time to start. I’m working with some incredibly awesome companies and publications, and have a ton of stories to write from our recent visit to Michigan. There are also trips to London, Malta and Hawaii to plan.

Keep an eye on this blog for some big changes, too. Greg has been busy redesigning From Way Up High and we hope to launch the new version in the coming weeks.

Thank you all again for your support these past two years. And thank you to the Les Mis team for making the movie without me. It was the wake up call I needed.

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