My father always used to tell me that I could talk my way through anything so well that I should be an attorney. I agreed with him that my ability to craft an argument was well-tuned, but I didn’t want to spend my life defending the bad guys or evil corporations that could afford to pay the exorbitant fees that I envisioned charging. Instead, I sought to follow my heart using my “B.S. Skills,” as my father referred to them, to my best advantage on the written page. It has been a long, winding road with some steep hills along the way, but today I am writer and a happy one.
I left my career in public relations, which had the exorbitant fees but not the prestige of law, when asked to put the spin on a major pollution problem for one of those evil corporations with the big bucks. I was 38 years old and had an epiphany or, at a minimum, a good dose of conscience. I packed up my office, told my clients I would write for them but that they’d have to find someone else to spin their work, and went home to write. Looking back, I was bold. I invested in the finest equipment for a home office – fax, copier, state-of-the-art computer, and two phone lines – and got to work. The work flowed right in and I continued to make enough money to hold up my end of the household expenses.
After awhile, I became bored writing the same old stuff day in and day out. I carved out an hour each day for creative writing. Over the past 11 years, these hourly creative respites have allowed me to complete 12 children’s books, a novel for young teens, a racy adult novel, and a book that was actually published! (American Gargoyles: Spirits in Stone by Clarkson Potter Publishers in 2001)
My creative time helped me build confidence in my writing ability. I began to think of my writing less as a B.S. skill and more as way of communicating ideas, thoughts, concepts, and at times, humor. My creative endeavors also gave me courage. I became less fearful about rejection and sent queries anytime and anywhere I thought my knowledge and experience was a fit with a publication. This fit, I found, was the real key to my success. Successfully selling story ideas had a whole lot less to do with my ability and a whole lot more to do with filling a publisher’s needs. I carved out a niche as a health and science writer based on my educational background and PR experience. Something that was unexpected but nearly always happened is that whenever I needed to supplement my income, somehow, miraculously, an editing job would be presented at my door!
Eleven years have passed since the day I walked out of the door of the PR agency. While cash flow hasn’t always been consistent, with some years leaner than others, I’ve made a living here. I intend to talk my way, via the written word, into retirement from my home office, with time off for good behavior, whenever warranted.
Darlene Trew Crist work from her home office in Wickford, Rhode Island, which she shares during the day with two dogs, two cats, three birds, 14 tropical fish, and one goldfish. After hours, she closes up shop to spend time with her husband and fifteen-year-old twin daughters. In her free time, she runs, lifts weights, practices yoga, and is taking up drumming.