And now, nineteen weeks and a day after Peter died, I am walking away from my day job and toward the uncertain, unstable, insecure job of writing full-time. Before I get into exactly what that will look like, let me just say, I am leaving a job and coworkers I like, a lot. My boss was a gem of a man, especially after the rock I had before him. The men and women who hear a calling to be firefighters and paramedics are unbelievable human beings. They react, use their training, then think later. They care and do so with patience, compassion, and understanding. I will never forget them or the work I was privileged enough to provide for them. They say they are a family and I am humbled to have been their sister, their aunt (some great aunt), their cousin, if only for a time.
Today, I head toward a new beginning of writing full-time. It’s something I wanted to do as long as I can remember. It’s a tough gig. I knew going in, there are very few JK Rowlings, Stephen Kings, EL James, or Nora Roberts. It should take talent, dedication, and determination, yet not every success story has any of this. Most do, but not all. Sometimes, making a living as a writer is lucky at best. Sometimes, if you hit on something that resonates with a large group of people, you are the lucky one. Perhaps finding the large group, or knowing what is lacking, is a talent in of itself.
In a world inundated with writers and books, it’s more difficult to find your audience, to be successful in monetary gains. This excess creates a competition to get to close to the top which includes publicity, publicity, publicity. It’s a world of tweets, retweets, Instagrams, Facebook, and every other social media I haven’t even discovered yet. Marketing has become akin to writing. It sucks. It takes away the joy of just writing. It is time-consuming. And it’s necessary.
My daughter took me out on the marketing platform the first month of my book’s release, but now, I have to dive in. She has a full-time job. This will be part of mine. I’m not very good at self-advertising and I wonder how this will all work out. What I do know, is I can’t take my eye off the prize, and that’s self-gratification. And by the way, I like that there are more books out there, more chances for people to tell their story. Even though it throws me into the insecure world of marketing, I do dig it.
So here I go again, trying out something new. Peter’s death has given me all sorts of newness. I hate most of them. I am angry at so many of them. But this writing one? Well, I’ve worn this writer’s robe on and off for some time now. I slipped it off when I had to help with these bills, pay for this tuition, save for that retirement. The list never stopped. I wore it long enough though to publish two books and write for two columns. When I’m not wearing my writer’s cloak, there is unhappiness in me. I feel naked to my own truth which is uncomfortable. Putting it on will feel wonderful, even with the itchy tag of marketing.
I have done so much, accomplished so much, in these past 19 months. I am proud of what I’ve done. I’m still unsteady, but I’m getting there, wherever the hell there is. One of the biggest lessons in all of this has been it all comes down to me. My reliability, my touchstone, my support, crumbled around me when he was killed. And yes, I have people in my life who have given me their shoulder to cry on, offered their ears to listen, even held me up, but when the day begins, I start it alone, and this is new for me.
I haven’t seen aloneness for thirty-plus years. It’s now a one-day-at-a-time journey with each day knowing it comes down to me, my choices, my own decisions, my way of navigating. Each day, I am reminded I cannot depend on others to fill a Peter-void. Sure, sometimes, okay a lot of times, I get angry. And yes, I am forever asking why me – why this happened and why it happened to me. While I don’t mind aloneness, loneliness sucks, and I am in it so often I don’t know if I can remember my life without it. Maybe I can; it’s just too painful to try.
So, today, I am saying good-bye to my day job and hello to writing and it’s little sibling, marketing. People have asked what I will do all day. I chuckle at their naivety of a writer’s life. Then I answer, I will find the person I am meant to be now…with my shoulders hunched over a computer…and I’ll do it alone.