I’ve known for at least four years that I wanted to be done with freelance writing as my primary source of work. The inconsistent feast-or-famine nature of the work always amped up my anxiety. I hated never being able to predict the sudden loss of a client or slowdown in work. Ultimately, when I moved down here to Texas from Michigan, my primary goal was to not have to make my living as a freelance writer anymore.
Somehow, I always found my way back into the work. I’ve needed some type of work I could do at home with the kids so that I could be available for meeting their transportation needs. And after all, it was something I knew how to do, and I could do it anywhere on any schedule. That also meant that my sleep schedule got really screwed up, which I haven’t quite recovered from and is the worst possible thing for MS.
I had years of practice and a well-honed voice for non-creative, very businesslike writing. I was never particularly successful at it because I didn’t particularly like it. I didn’t have the interest in my own work to pursue a lot of new clients. But I did enough to get by.
I had some sorta big publication credits along the way, though none were household names. My very first-ever publication was actually in a book. I’ve been published in Healthline and Chowhound (the latter of which is owned by CBS, a publication I just achieved last year, which was kinda cool.) I was on the masthead of both a print consumer magazine and later at a B2B trade magazine.
But now my brain has really taken that ability away from me. Ever since my MS relapse last year, my typing speed went from 85 wpm with 100% accuracy to about 30 wpm with multiple errors. Everything is harder. I can’t write an article in an hour anymore.
Even clients I’ve worked for before now say that my work regularly needs revisions, which previously wasn’t the case. I’m losing my grip on grammar, on synthesizing information, on putting words together in a way that sounds pretty.
I still love to write. I can write blog entries on topics that interest me. But I don’t think they’re the kind of writing anyone would pay for. I’m not sure if I’ll ever try to make money from writing again or not.
But in the meantime, I can’t really do anything else, either. I can’t learn new things very well. I need lots of bathroom breaks and can’t stand on my feet for very long, which isn’t compatible with many jobs.
I see now that the years of minimalism and keeping my wants in check were good preparation for this. I still believe anything could change at any time and might get better. I still have things I want and still like nice things, but I am truly okay without them. I have raised my kids to know how to be happy without an excessive amount of things. We will ultimately be fine. I am not despairing about having less.
And what I’m continually learning is that I need to let go of what I thought my life was going to be. On some level, I knew as far back as four or five years ago that I wouldn’t always be freelancing as a career. I knew there would be a change, but I didn’t know it would involve disability.
But when things are taken away from you, sometimes what you get in return is better when you stop fighting it. I wonder what would have happened if I could have accepted the impending changes much sooner.
It may sound strange, but I feel like I’m waking up. I’m recognizing that the plan for my life is not what I expected, but I the less I fight the change, the happier I feel.