The Reality of Writing Full-Time: I Was Petrified

Filed in When Writing Is Hard, Writers on Wellness by on February 10, 2016 • views: 1399

by Trisha Faye

Woman AfraidWhen my step-father got cancer many years ago, I scurried to the health food store.

I took all the classes I could on healthy eating. A few years later, a precancerous diagnosis sent me running to my favorite spot—a mountain stream in southern California. I sat by the banks, crying, afraid I wouldn’t see my two young boys grow up.

I chose to fight back, determined to live.

Ten years later, another doctor challenged me. My sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides were all too high. Naturally he only had one solution—prescriptions.

“Give me three months. Let me see if I can lower them naturally.”

He resisted. I persisted.

I won. It took me six months. But I did it. I rode my bicycle several days a week and watched what I put in my mouth.

However, it was the unexplained Sudden Cardiac Arrest in 2010 that shifted my attitude.

A Heart Attack 25,000 Feet in the Air

Without any warning, my heart stopped beating. On an airplane, 25,000 feet in the air. Fortunately, there were three doctors on the flight, one seated directly behind me. I had immediate medical care, CPR, oxygen and a defibrillator available.

That incident made it abundantly clear that life has no promises. It can end at any moment.

I decided from that day forward that I was going to live an authentic life. I banished trivial, meaningless tasks and duties. Most importantly, I was determined to follow my dream.

I was going to write. Full time. Not just an article here or there. Not just a few pages written whenever I had the time—or energy—to write.

Trisha enjoying nature at one of her favorite places, Terra Studios in Arkansas.

Trisha enjoying nature at one of her favorite places, Terra Studios in Arkansas.

Writing Every Day Proved More Challenging Than I Thought

Four years passed before I was able to quit my day job. The day finally arrived. February 12, 2014 was my last day in retail.

Differences between the two careers quickly became apparent; both physical and emotional.

I discovered a major problem the first week. I’d planned to write six hours a day—from noon to six. So, I sat down at the keyboard and tapped away for six hours straight.

At the end of each day I had excruciating headaches. Not to mention the stiff, achy joints that screamed when I pathetically tried to stand up.

I learned that I needed to get up and move around about every thirty minutes. Get a drink. Run to the restroom. Throw in a load of laundry. Stop and pet one of the cats.

I don’t stare at the screen for prolonged periods of time. I frequently shift my gaze and look around. I assess the dust bunnies multiplying. I look outside and see how the leaves are changing color. I watch the clouds drifting across the sky.

But there was another huge problem in transitioning from a day job to writing at home.

Trisha trying to write with one of the rescued feral kittens, Jasper, in its favorite sleeping spot.

Trisha trying to write with one of the rescued feral kittens, Jasper, in its favorite sleeping spot.

Extra Pounds Started Hanging Around for the Party

In my retail position I was on my feet thirty-five hours a week. On our truck day, we unloaded two semi-trucks filled with merchandise. We pushed dollies stacked with boxes all over the store, delivering them to the proper departments. My coworkers and I joked about the miles we logged.

Now, I sat at a computer screen all day. No cardio workout. Little movement at all.

Extra pounds started hanging around for the party. Extra inches settled in around the waist.

Something had to change. I restructured my schedule to walk three days a week. Not only is the exercise a benefit, being outside in the fresh air rejuvenates and restores me.

To help counteract the lessened activity, I also increased my fiber intake. I’ll have a bowl of beans or a baked sweet potato for lunch. I try to keep fresh fruits and vegetables in the house to nibble on. For an afternoon pick-me-up, I have a glass of cold green tea with honey and cinnamon.

Three Months In, I Was Petrified

My career switch also brought on unexpected emotional challenges. What hit me the hardest was dealing with rejections and my own self-doubts.

Generally, rejections don’t wound me. It’s part of the process of being a writer. What I didn’t foresee was that increasing the number of queries also increases the number of rejections exponentially.

Three months into my new endeavor, I was petrified. My employer hadn’t paid me for the personal time I’d accrued, so I was already operating with fewer funds than I’d anticipated.

Then, some expected writing assignments didn’t materialize. I sent a flurry of queries out. No one nibbled. And then, in one day, I got four rejections in less than twelve hours. On top of that, a guest blog that was supposed to post that day didn’t.

I was crushed.

I started applying for part-time jobs, when I saw my bank account dwindling down towards a scary number. But, even potential employers were saying, “No thank You.”

I felt like a failure.

Once I was in a downward spiral, it was hard to stop.

Not only was I dealing with the recent rejections, my mind brought up every rejection and every failure it could throw in my face. Failures from the past twenty years came drifting through, taunting me and calling me a loser.

I had a mini-breakdown. I threw myself on the bed and sobbed until there wasn’t a tear left in my body.

I felt like the biggest failure in history. I thought I was a wretched writer. I knew I was horrid.

We’re Writers…We Write About It

The next morning I got up. With swollen, puffy eyes, I wrote. For hours. I poured my heart out. I typed with a vengeance. Because…we’re writers. That’s what we do. We write about it.

This taught me to apply the “lemons to lemonade” theory to my writing career too.

All those grumbles I’d had about my retail job? They’re going into a book—Every Day’s a Good Day: Remaining Positive in a Retail or Service Based Profession. I realized that shortened versions would make an article length piece. Several queries later, NAILS Magazine printed 10 Ways to Count to 10: Customer Service with a Smile.

While I was using writing to overcome my emotional distress, I also used it to celebrate. I wrote A Second Chance, a fictional tale based on my cardiac arrest experience to celebrate the fifth anniversary of my own miraculous second chance.

To keep my spirits up and to maintain a positive outlook as my writing career grows and changes, I regularly meditate and use affirmations. I try to be out in nature as often as possible, even if it’s only in my own backyard. The sunlight on my face and the birds serenading me from the trees keeps me calm and peaceful, loving life and the blessings that fill it.

And the days that don’t turn out as well as I’d like? Why, naturally, they get added into a story somewhere.

Trisha in the midst of her favorite hobby – enjoying her grandchildren. Here she is with her two youngest ones, Isaiah and Mark.

Trisha in the midst of her favorite hobby – enjoying her grandchildren. Here she is with her two youngest ones, Isaiah and Mark.

* * *

Trisha Faye writes from her home in north Texas. While celebrating her second chance, she embraces life and her writing career. When she’s not writing, she plays in the garden, creates with fibers, scours the area for pieces of the past and rescues abandoned feral kittens. (Don’t ask her how many!)

But her all-time favorite hobby is visiting the four grandchildren in Arizona. For more information on Trisha and her work, please see her website and blog, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

a-second-chance_coverjpegA Second Chance: Jenny’s heart stopped beating—25,000 miles up in the air. The unexpected sudden cardiac arrest causes her to look closer at her day-to-day life, examining it to see if she is truly living an authentic life.

Will her life change? How does this incident impact her life? Will she learn to celebrate each new day she’s been given?

Or, will she continue on as before, sliding back into her old habits and routines?

Join Jenny in A Second Chance, as she wrestles with the potentially life changing event and discovers whether or not she has the courage to delve deeper into the inner journey to her soul. Available at Amazon.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Great story! Glad you kept at it. 🙂

  2. Iris says:

    Beautiful interview – i knew you’d be perfect for Colleen’s blog. Glad you’ve made the step into full time writing – i love your stories 🙂