In 2009, the same year Michael Jackson died, I learned how to swim. That was also the year I had my radiation and chemo treatments, decided to quit my corporate job, and moved to Florida to follow a Great Love. Of course, all that isn’t coincidental. When death stares you in the face, you’re forced to evaluate your life choices and decide what’s important. Before the cancer, I was a mostly long-suffering corporate worker bee who hated my boss, was dealing with a recent divorce, and months away from being dumped by my New York publishing house. Few things in my life then seemed “happiness oriented,” so with little encouragement, I packed up my books and my MINI Cooper, Zora, and moved south. This was also the time I decided to be a full time writer. So began my life of risk. And reward.
Seven years later, the Great Love has dissolved, I’m still cancer free, and I’m back in Atlanta. I’m also still living as a mostly full time writer. I traded one New York publisher for another, now write under three names instead of just one, and have at least ten more published books under my belt. But my life is still perched on the edge of risk. I woke up to write a blog post about learning to swim and grabbing the most out of life, but my mind is swirling with financial concerns, thoughts of career longevity, and being a responsible grown-up. It’s one of the real and unfortunate consequences of making impractical if potentially ecstasy-inducing life decisions.
At the end of the day, however, I don’t regret any of these decisions. Could I have made better ones, absolutely. But I’m a graduate of the “que sera, sera” school of life. I can’t imagine myself still at that corporate job which I couldn’t afford to (willingly) give up because of the condo I’d seriously thought of buying. I would have been struggling to put out a book every year while also fighting tooth and nail for a shred of happiness in my day to day life. These days, I’m relatively content. Money comes (and goes) in waves, leaving me alternately panicked or elated.
On the best of these days, I celebrate the month’s online sales and plot Pinky and the Brain style about how to take over the (writing) world. On the worst days, I stare in horror at my dwindling bank account and contemplate hiring myself out as a freelancer to anyone who would have me. It’s like a roller coaster ride, complete with projectile vomiting and thoughts of “am I really big enough for this ride?”
At any rate, I’m committed to this life and carry on, maniacal grin firmly in place. If you see me in Aldi talking to myself, just back away. I’m mostly harmless. And most likely considering the merits of taking intermediate swimming lessons.
**Fiona is a full-time writer and professional procrastinator living in Atlanta. Her new book, Rise of the Rain Queen, is out now and available most places where books are sold. She loves bread.