Keep Moving with a Thick Skin

DSC03075Many of you know that in addition to writing this blog about all topics pertaining to living consciously and lightly upon the planet, I also write fiction. In fact, writing novels consumes me most of the time these days. In the past two years, I’ve published two novels and re-issued two traditionally published novels.

Like most writers, I’m sensitive but have been forced to develop a tougher exterior. It doesn’t come easily and in the quiet moments of self-doubt, that bulky facade falls away, and I bleed from any slights I might receive for my passion. I recently read a quote that said, “It’s only work if you’d rather be doing something else.” That fits me. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing despite the often lackluster sales of my books, the frequent ignoring of what I do by relatives and friends, and the sometimes thoughtless comments made by others. I live with it, and I realized recently, I’m even learning to accept it.

During the past year, I went through some serious health issues that required me to go on chemo-like treatments to rid my body of two unwelcome viruses that were attacking my nerves and liver. I became weaker, I was often dizzy and unsteady on my feet, and my hair fell out. All my life, I’ve had thick blonde hair and I suppose there have been times when I was a bit vain about it, but I endured all that. Despite all the side effects, I managed to go to the gym four or five days a week. I did my Zumba, Tai Chi, and weight resistance machines. More than the physical activity, the support I received while there kept me going.

In particular, two older women in their eighties were sweetly solicitous and encouraging, telling me I was beautiful despite my straw hair coming out in clumps. They are my heroes. One day someone told them I was a writer, and they were so excited. Neither of them used computers or went online so I brought them three of my books and told them if they didn’t want to read them, to pass them on to someone who might enjoy them.

Two weeks later, one of the sisters (the one who doesn’t read much) told me that they didn’t like the topics of my books and were going to return them to me because they’d never read them and didn’t know anyone who would. I only told one person about this–another writer–and she confirmed what I felt.

“Just when I thought I’d heard of everything that could be said to insult us, you tell me this story!” my friend said.

I decided not to  react and told her that would be fine. When I saw her the following week, I was friendly as if nothing had happened. Then the other sister (the one who reads) entered the room.

“Pat! I’m so glad to see you,” she said. “I started reading Trails in the Sand the other night, and I  can’t put it down. I’m already half way through.”

The other sister said, “You’re reading one of her books?”

“Yes, I am. And I told my daughter about it, and she wants to read it, too,” reading sister said. “It’s so educational about the sea turtles and the oil spill. And the family! My goodness, I can’t believe them.”seaturtle7

I smiled and continued to work out.

This morning the reading sister was at the front desk of the gym when I entered.

“Pat! I brought your book today. Will you sign it with a personal message to me? I’ve never had a book signed by the author.”

I happily took the book and the pen.

“You’re an inspiration to me,” I signed.

If she only knew what her words did for me. It will keep me going until the next time there’s a dip in my motivation.

If only I could remember these positive things in times of doubt.

P.S. I’ve beat the viruses, and I feel better than I ever have in my entire life. A positive support system, prayer, and my writing kept me going and motivated me to get out of bed most every day even when I felt I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other.

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Published by P. C. Zick

I write. It's as simple and as complicated as that. Storytelling creates our cultural legacy.

17 thoughts on “Keep Moving with a Thick Skin

  1. Last year (2013) was one of the worst years I have ever experienced. In August 2012 I had been diagnosed with cancer. In Jan 2013 I started 2 months of radiotherapy. I am now on injections every 12 weeks. In June my favourite uncle died (aged 92 and not unexpected) In September my mother died aged 94, and again not unexpected. On Nov 12 my cousin died, aged 57, brain tumour. Then on 5 November my brother (aged 62) was involved in a traffic accident and died at the scene. I do however have a strong faith that better times are to come. We have to keep going, and we have to remain positive. that’s my view anyway. And that means positive in everything. We should never question our own abilities. We will never please everyone, so just be sure to please you. Anyone else liking your work is a bonus.


    1. I’m so sorry to hear of all the tragedy in your life this past year, John. Things seem to happen all in lumps like that. But you are so right–we either succumb or we rise above and continue. Rising above is always recommended.


  2. You know I’ve been following both your writing journey and your health journey. I think you’ve been successful with both, and you know I’ve kept you in my prayers. As to the sisters, I have to believe the first you referenced didn’t intend to be cruel. In fact, she probably thought she was helping you by giving you back materials you could then sell to someone else. (And if she was being intentionally mean, who needs her?) And as for the second sister? For every negative force, there’s a positive one in the world, right? Take the victories where you can. We’ll be here to celebrate with you.


    1. Staci, I know the non-reading sister had no cruel intentions. She did think it was worse to keep the books. I said something to her yesterday about hating the way I looked these days with my hair and moon face (still have to take steroids for a few months) and she hugged me and said it didn’t matter because my inner beauty glowed through to her. It made me feel better and reminded me that’s all that really matters.


  3. I think most writers will relate to your story about the ‘sisters’. Reviews and other comments can shatter or elate us so easily. But you are right, we have to take the knocks and there is always someone out there who will come along with a kind and positive word to help pick us up!


  4. Wow! I think you were wonderful with the first sister….I would have smiled politely, ran to the restroom, and bawled my eyes out! Thank you for sharing that wonderful strength and tougher exterior as you call it. I have just written my first book about your great-grandfather’s mother-in-law….Laura Smith Haviland, and I have been truly blessed that my local community supported me so beautifully. But, I am beginning to completely relate to what you are talking about with the lackluster response by family/friends. Your words were very helpful here. Blessings, and I’m looking forward to reading your Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier. Blessings, Sheryl


  5. So glad that your health has improved, Patricia! Thank you for sharing this story. It’s interesting to me to hear about the reactions (and non-reactions) writers get from people in their circle of friends, family, etc. That’s one more reason why building a support group within the writing community is so important.


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