Swimming with Michael Jackson: A Writer’s Confessional


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.

2009 me. With Zora.

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.

rain frame


  1. Kudos to you for taking the leap to happiness even if sometimes you’re jumping over sharks 🙂 I’ve taken a few of those leaps in my life and no matter how scary, I was happier for it. Love your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, Fiona. Thanks for this blog. I enjoyed reading it because it’s made me think about the topic of risks. We take them every day, don’t we? Sometimes we prevail and other times the risks take us. Sometimes we make the right decision and other times the wrong decision crushes us, but only temporarily. It was one of those wrong decisions that taught me no one gets to go through life without making errors in judgement, and everyone deserves to be able to forgive him/herself regarding those errors.
    Thank you for the books you’ve written. Thank you for always sharing your travel adventures. You’re a gem.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for reading it, Renee, and thanks for your sweet words. We absolutely do take them just about every day, even when we don’t acknowledge them as such. Whatever the outcome, if we’re alive at the end of it, they inevitably make us stronger at the end :-).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Greetings Fiona Zedde,

    From the first novel you’ve penned, I’ve loved you and your artistry. I am delighted that you took the plunge, are continuously taking the dive. I already have your latest offering and will be devouring it as soon as I can. When I do, I’d love to sit down with you, on film, to capture the exchange on my YouTube channel, if you are open to it!

    Much love and blessings always,


    Liked by 2 people

  5. First, I didn’t know you were on WordPress. Second I love how open you are in your writing. It’s soothing to read about the struggles of being a full time writer. I’m working two jobs and looking for a third… Worried about money. I have time to write, but I choose to sleep or read blogs online… I write for me second job, so it’s hard to then write for the love of it. I didn’t think my passion could be extinguished. I’m on the brink of making choices. I’m grateful to hear how you’ve chosen…

    Peace beautiful one. You are always inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, Nik. Choosing writing was easy – I’m ever a pleasure seeker – even though staying with that choice has been hard. I’ve freelanced/ghost-written before and made decent money, but churning out the same kind of work day after day eroded my joy in the writing process and I had to give it up and push harder to make money with my passion work. With the help of friends, family, and supportive readers, it hasn’t been as scary as it could be. But I often say, when asked about the practicalities of my choice, that if I had a partner and child, I wouldn’t be living on this financial edge. I’d have forced myself to do something lucrative with this masters degree of mine.

    It’s a struggle. It’s worth it. But it’s still a struggle.

    Oh, I’m doubly on WordPress with my travel blog that I intermittently update: http://www.roundtheworldgyal.wordpress.com


Comments are closed.