In 2014, my wife Katie and I moved to Jyväskyla, Finland. We sold everything and arrived with two suitcases and a carry-on bag each. My goal was to treat the experience as a writer’s retreat. I was away from friends, family, and distractions. Forests and lakes surrounded our apartment. It was a perfect opportunity to put my head down and get some serious work done.

That didn’t happen, exactly. It turns out the internet exists everywhere. While that was great for keeping in touch with people, it also meant those distractions continued to follow me around. Although I did manage to start a lo-fi publishing company while we were there and earn a modest living as a writer, it wasn’t the writer’s retreat experience I’d wanted.

In 2021, we moved back to the United States. We sold everything and arrived with two suitcases and a carry-on bag each. Once again, an opportunity to rebuild my life presented itself. I could make it into anything I wanted it to be. Even though we’ve traded beautiful views for city life, this can still be a writer’s retreat. I can have the quiet life that I’ve wanted for a long time.

I have never wanted to be in the public spotlight. That’s why there are few pictures of me online. It’s the reason I’m terrible at social media. It’s my motivation for being a writer; I can say what I want to say without interacting with people. My physical and mental health are both better when I’m away from the stress of other people.

If your goal is to be left alone, stop drawing attention to yourself. I’ve shut down the blog, shuttered my social media accounts, and canceled other media plans. Anything that I feel the need to say I will express through the books I write.

The internet is still part of my life. That much is unavoidable. For now, I am restricting it to business purposes. My days involve reading, writing, and listening to music. I continue to cook, take long walks with Katie, and spend time with friends face-to-face whenever possible. It’s the first step on this new journey toward having the life I want, rather than the one I’m willing to accept.