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The Quarter-Life Breakthrough

6 Jun
Time to start my second draft.

Time to start my second draft.

Book Update #1

This spring, I set out to do the impossible and started to write a book about my journey over the last year.  The book tells the story of how I quit my job working for the government in D.C., moved to San Francisco without a job, and embarked on a career that’s meaningful to me.  It’s a handbook for twenty- and thirty-somethings who refuse to settle for mediocrity. 

A big thanks to my awesome readers for your support! Here’s a progress update: 

1)  My book has a title! It’s called The Quarter-Life Breakthrough. On a recent Tuesday night, I was volunteering with The Beat Within, a nonprofit that provides writing workshops for incarcerated youth in the San Francisco juvenile hall, and a young girl was sharing a poem with me she had written about her boyfriend. Her poem talked about how her relationship was a moment of hope and of possibility during a particularly rough time in her life.  She called this moment a “breakthrough.” I had been struggling with what to call the time period in my late twenties when I scared to leave my job but knew I needed to make a change. Breakthrough seemed like the perfect word, flipping the paradigm of the quarter-life crisis on its head, a crisis instead becoming a moment of empowerment and opportunity.  

2)  I recently completed the 100-page, far-from-perfect, first draft and submitted the draft to my amazing editor, Caroline Kessler. I’m excited to begin writing the second draft.  I published a piece in Thought Catalog about my writing process, which offers tips for how you can embrace the creative writing process (or any creative process) and share your story with the world.   

3)  I’m hard at work preparing to launch the Kickstarter campaign for the book on June 27. The Kickstarter will help pay for production costs including editing, cover art and design, marketing and publicity, and the first print edition.  This week, I’m shooting the Kickstarter promo video for the book with my talented videographer, Kara Brodgesell. It’s been a blast to write the script for the video and shotlist with Kara.  I’d love if you could support the Kickstarter campaign when we launch in a few weeks, whether you’re able to donate or share it with friends and on social media. 

4)  I’ll be sharing a beautiful cover and website with you soon. I’m lucky to have Bernat Fortet, an award-winning designer from Barcelona, working on the cover design for the book. 

In order to continue to receive updates on The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, please sign-up for the email list, like the Facebook page, and follow @whatsupsmiley on Twitter (#QuarterLifeBreakthrough). 

Thank you for your continued support, and for refusing to settle for mediocrity.  It’s going to be a summer full of breakthroughs. 

-Smiley Poswolsky

Our Story Is All We Have: I’m Writing A Book!

25 Apr
Smiley's Moleskines

My Moleskines are getting full.

“But then why do we write if not to tackle the fears that others look to us to conquer?” Joanna Penn

Less than a year ago, the voice inside my head telling me to listen to my heart and take a leap finally got loud enough that I couldn’t ignore it. So I quit my job at the Peace Corps headquarters in D.C., moved to San Francisco without a job, and now I’m writing a book about that journey and about taking the leap.

I know many of you reading are ready to make a change, to get unstuck, and to stop settling for mediocrity. With this book, I want to help you do that.

It was really scary to embrace the quarter-life crisis I was facing, move thousands of miles away, and start completely anew in a strange city—so part of this book is about that. Part of it is about empowering you to move through whatever crisis you might be going through, whether you’re about to graduate college, quit your job, launch a new company, travel the world, or turn 30 (or 40, in which case, you’re probably thinking, “Holy shit, I’m 39, and about to read a book by some dude named Smiley, it can’t get much worse than this…”). 

Through telling my story and what has worked (and has not worked) during my recent life transition (ok, quarter-life crisis), my book will be a friendly companion on your journey toward getting closer to who you are and actualizing your dreams.  I will encourage you to embrace rather than dread your current life crisis, and best of all, smile and dance a little bit more.   

The book will be closer to the length of a novella (but true!) and will have illustrations by a friend of mine who is a prolific visual storyteller. 

The goals: To finish my first draft by my 30th birthday (June 29), and have the book completed by August 1.  I’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign in late June to help pay for my wonderful editor, cover art and illustrations, a designer, marketing and publicity, and a book tour. 

A close friend questioned my audacity, and whether I could raise money on Kickstarter, saying “People buy cool products like watches and gadgets on Kickstarter, but why would anyone just want to read your story?,” he said to me.  Just read my story?  My story is all I have.  Your story is all you have.  Our story is all we have. 

So, if you’re with me, if you believe that I, just like you, have a unique story to tell, I need your help!  Embrace the process of creation with me.  Sign up here for exclusive updates on my progress, and sneak-peeks at my Kickstarter campaign which will launch in June.

Ways to Help

1)    Sign up here to join my mailing list so you can spread the word about my upcoming Kickstarter campaign and let other people know about the book!  If you are currently going through a life transition, or know someone who is, please sign up for the mailing list.  The point of this project is to build a supportive community of people going through this arduous process together. 

2)    Let me know if you have any ideas for my book. I’m still working on things like title, design ideas, brilliant marketing strategies, and creative book tour ideas.

3)    Know any brilliant writers? I’d love to pick their brains.

4)    Let me know if you are connected to an awesome publishing company who might be interested in my project.

Thank you!

I would not be able to make this happen without your love, inspiration, readership, and support—thank you!  Feel free to contact me at with questions or ideas.  And most importantly, tell your story too—whether by prose, photo, film, installation, music, dance, code, or whatever medium you love.  The world is waiting for you. 

Storyboarding my book at the library.

Storyboarding  at the UCSF library.  A couple medical students looked at me like I was nuts.

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