I certainly don’t need to be any busier in life right now but I have committed to branching out in a couple of areas that involve my writing. I know these commitments will not take up a large amount of time so I don’t feel pressured or panicked in any way.
I also tend not to feel pressured or panicked about anything because that’s just how I roll. Maybe had I chosen to become a commercial pilot or a sky diving instructor I would feel differently every day but there is an inherent amount of safety in putting words to paper for others to read.
That isn’t to say there is no fear in writing. Hitting the “enter” key the final time when I self published my first book, Lost and Found in Missing Lake, my stomach flip flopped. I was sharing a story and characters that I made up. There is an element of fantasy to my fiction and I am deeply connected to my story. If nobody read it or nobody liked it then that would mean nobody liked what was in my head or that I wasn’t any good at what I was passionate about.
At least I have the books behind me as I leap into the new challenges.
I have already started the first one and it went well. I am writing non-fictional, educational, veterinary-based articles for 4 newspapers around western Montana. I still need a title (is that called a by-line?) and a photo that will look alright in newsprint but the first one is written and ready to submit to my editors.
The Pet Vet? Dr.Fyfe’s Take? Vet Chat?
I’ll put it out on social media and see what people think.
I found the writing to be a healthy challenge. Challenging to keep it under 500 words, for starters! When I write my books I let my fingers and feelings fly and I don’t choose to restrain myself until I re-read or do some editing. I also get to deal with dialogue between characters with my books but veterinary educational topics don’t lend themselves to that. Dialogue in my books is a lot of fun for me. It allows me to explore and get to know my characters more plus it moves the story along in a way that just telling the story doesn’t do.
I also want my non-fictional newspaper pieces to be interesting while perhaps a little bit entertaining because, come on, its Me we are talking about here and I like to make people smile. At least I didn’t have to come up with the topics. At Kickoff for Clark Fork Veterinary Clinic we, as a group, decided topics to focus on based on the seasons and generally accepted veterinary themes (ie February is Pet Dental Health month in most of the country.)
I’m excited to get the articles out there this year and see what people think. I love the fact I already have 4 newspapers eager to have the content, including our local Seeley Swan Pathfinder whose local readership knows me well. It is far less daunting to write articles like these versus putting my imagination out there for all to see (and judge!)
Remember, though, I grew up being judged going through puberty in spandex so there’s that confidence that I carry that probably is ill suited at times. I stay in my lane, at least, so hopefully that keeps me out of most trouble.
I think branching out within our careers is a good thing. As a figure skating coach many years ago I branched out and learned about power skating for hockey players and that became an exciting niche for me in Canada and the US. It helped me establish myself when we moved to Watford City, ND and opened a lot of doors and led to the creation of some terrific friendships in that community.
I have always said that figure skating has been good to me and the fact our great friendships with other coaches and most of our players have remained strong after 25 years is reason enough for me to keep believing in expanding ourselves and our careers. I am still amazed they all put their trust in a 21 year old with a long curly pony tail who was shacked-up with the new doctor in town but Dave and then Doug and the others did and there we were at Dave’s son’s wedding a few years ago.
I am excited to share my writing story when I branch out on a Zoom call this coming week with interested authors-to-be. My good friend who is an editor has been teaching a class on publishing and she has asked me to share what I know. There are definitely things I have learned through trial and error (and more trial and error) and things I have spent money on that got me nowhere.
But then things like the book blog tours that Teddy Rose hosted for me were a boat-load of fun and garnered my last 2 books some awesome reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (and on private blogs as well.) I believe some of the students I will be talking with are planning on going the traditional publishing route but some are keen to learn about self-publishing so I have a bit to offer there, too.
I’m not quite sure how to measure if things are a success or not when branching out into the world of writing. Okay, when books sell and I receive awesome reviews then that feels successful. It feels like the hard work and time and commitment to sit down and write and then edit was well worth it.
As a realtor, its clearly a success when I can help clients find their dream home within their budget or I can help people list and sell the home or land they have. While that is a challenge right now due to ridiculously low inventory I still work every day to look at listings and communicate with clients and help the 1 transaction on the go right now make it to closing. Without the success at closing it wouldn’t be any fun to do the work.
As a coach it can be pretty clear when things are a success. Skaters land jumps, they pass tests, they compete well and maybe earn medals. Hockey teams learn to work together, their skating skills improve, various players score goals or make wicked saves and sometimes your team wins.
While the term, ‘success’ usually has a positive connotation, there are times when that just isn’t so.
Like as a veterinarian…. sure, hitting that teensy tiny vein with zero blood pressure behind it on the 15 year old cat in the back seat of a pickup might seem like a success until you learn that the vet is helping a family say goodbye to their feline companion.
Even in coaching, success might not be success, even if it takes years to find that out.
Like the elite figure skater I coached to several medals and high level testing achievements who has gone on to higher education and travelled the world…. I read a post from her on social media yesterday about the eating disorder demons she continues to fight that appeared as she, too, went through puberty in spandex many years ago.
I didn’t see the self loathing and distorted body image because she hid it well and also because I left to go to veterinary school and she eventually graduated high school and moved on. And maybe I never thought to ask.
I’m not saying any of us who train and compete and then perform at elite levels (in spandex) come out of it “normal”. I’m the first to admit that I was one of the bigger girls on tour in Japan and that the twice-daily weigh-ins were NOT cool but I have lots of coping mechanisms and I don’t believe I ever experienced self loathing like my former student described.
I know I did counsel a few of my skaters who had obvious weight-based issues but how many of them weren’t so obvious to me or their parents?
There is some success in reading how my skater also shared that she is embracing her body and her life and trying to take the time to take care of herself and I whole heartedly support her and hope she is successful. Not sure how to gauge that success, either, but having all the answers has never been the point to this blog.
I’m here to share my journeys and my discoveries and lots of times I share the shit-shows and disasters because that’s all part of being me.
Who I was (under construction, goofy, skater-girl, possibly brave.)
Who I am (veterinarian, writer, realtor, wife, friend, coach, still goofy, animal addict.)
Who I will be (still goofy, more animals, all of the above plus apparently a writer for newspapers and a Zoom personality for aspiring writers!)
Here’s to change while staying within your lane.
Branching out doesn’t have to be frightening or anxiety-causing.
I’ll keep you all posted, however things turn out.
12 thoughts on “Branching Out”
Another well written piece. We’re looking forward to reading your column in The Pathfinder
Thanks, Mike! Andi has been asking me to contribute for a couple of years now and one of the technicians in Deer Lodge and her husband own 3 newspapers so it seemed like a fun way to contribute to that clinic and do local informing as well.
About damn time.
Thanks for the read ! Enjoy your enthusiasm and your many paths! We will enjoy your Pathfinder column! Stay happy smiling and safe in your many travels!
Thanks, Kathy. I’m happy I can contribute to the newspapers. Just need a title for my column… I’ll see what our Facebook friends suggest! I always appreciate you commenting on the blogs, too!
Many of your other pictures in the same letter would do, e.g. you and the ferrets, you and the horse, etc. You have a ‘closed’ smile happening so your teeth wouldn’t show and it would help illustrate your love of animals.
Good point on the smile. The horse pic is a fun one. Thank you for reading & sharing!!!
Did you ever look into the books? Still happy to mail, it’s just so expensive to Canada right now!
Hi Tanya, I haven’t had a chance to do so but I really want to. I would dearly love an autographed book or two too…lol! Please hold off on sending anything at the moment until I can figure things out. My husband and I plan on being in GF in May so our focus is on that at the moment. Sure hope life is going well for you right now! Kat
That tooth is part of your charm. I wouldn’t change a thing.
You are a good man, Mike! The fact I traded moving out one year to train in Vancouver for skating over a perfect smile makes me happy knowing how good figure skating has been to me. I appreciate that! 🙂