Life. We’ve all got one. Until we haven’t.
A succession of challenging life events has brought me to a tipping point. The last decade has seen the end of my ambulance career due to back injury, the death of both my parents and my 15-year-old nephew, and most recently the drain of working in healthcare through the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of long covid on my own health.
Of course I have had many life-affirming experiences too that have been shining lights in my often dark journey – I wouldn’t want this post to seem like a cry for help. Chief among them has been my ever-present, supportive, wonderful wife and our two young daughters. Our life together so far has been tumultuous and serene, frustrating and rewarding, and absolutely the motivation to overcome the terrible things life has presented.
But those terrible things – the deaths, the responsibility, the survivor’s guilt – remains a weight that I carry. Early last year I started to channel this burden into my writing. I began a project that started life as a short story borne out of my grief for the loss of family, and grew into a full-blown novel concept.
I made good initial progress, writing several thousand words of planning and world-building, as well as initial drafts of the first five chapters. Alas, life had other plans for my time. Balancing productive writing with a healthcare career and a family was already challenging, but the tidal wave of responsibility that came with the pandemic coupled with (unrelated) family health challenges forced my writing onto the back burner.
It’s funny how life works; contracting covid in January and failing to recover from it has been an infuriating experience which has impacted me physically, psychologically and financially. However, it has put me in a position where my best option to get better while being productive on my own terms is to step away from healthcare and focus on writing. It’s something I can do in fits and starts when I’m well and rest when I’m not.
I’m grateful that my employer has granted me a 6-month (unpaid) sabbatical, during which time I intend to write and to recover. I’m being as pragmatic as possible about it with safeguards in place, and I’ll be as industrious as my health allows while being realistic about the unlikelihood of my endeavour even paying for itself.
I absolutely recognise that this is perhaps a foolhardy, ridiculous decision, to walk away from a salary during such troubled times. But the aforementioned tipping point, the ever more frequent reminders that we aren’t guaranteed a long life, compel me to take the chance, to strive for something I can leave behind.
I’ve got stories to tell.
TurAmarth · 10/09/2021 at 02:58
“…the aforementioned tipping point, the ever more frequent reminders that we aren’t guaranteed a long life, compel me to take the chance, to strive for something I can leave behind.”
Isn’t it hell that it takes a pandemic for us to see life clearly once again. The pandemic forced us all to stop, whether we wanted to or not, and that gave us all time to rethink what we were doing, and why.
While not the same as you, we have had losses of both family & friends, the end of my 2nd divorce, and the beginning of my 3rd marriage, earlier than planned retirement.. times 2. My youngest two both turned 18 during quarantine and have, to varying degrees, attempted to leave the nest… one successfully, the other, not so much.
I have seen my bloggin go down. In my case it’s due to being happy in my game. It’s like my early days in EVE… everything is exciting and ALL SHINEY and NEW… and TBH, it’s also not a Dark, Hard and Harsh HTFU ‘verse over here… it’s really fun again but with very little drama… and without drama, well, there’s not a lot of bank in “Best Day Ever!” over and over again and again.
My heart goes out to you, and my thoughts are with you Matt, I wish the very best for you and yours.
Keep writing, keep plugging away, it is not “is this worth it?” it is, “Watch me make it worth it.”
My wife and I an making it worth it for us, we hope to buy our own sailboat and go around the world… Who knows, maybe we’ll make landfall somewhere near you, and I we can lift a glass together one fine day… I’m buying. =]