Matilda Fairholm
Why Earning a Day From Writing is So Satisfying

When I make $200,000 a year at my day job

Image by janeb13 at Pixabay>

I love words.

I’ve loved them since I can remember. Books became my favorite when, at three years old, I learnt to read. By the time I was four I was ready for school, in fact I was so eager to begin that my mother arranged for me to start ‘visiting’ in the afternoons the year before I would officially start.

I could read. The kids in the kindergarten class couldn’t. I would take my nursery rhyme book and the teacher would have me read to the class from it.

Real nursery rhymes, like Doctor Foster went to Gloucester.

I was one of those kids.

The passion kept growing

I loved learning new words, putting them together in clever combinations and testing them out on my family. I would store up quick comebacks and seemed to have this uncanny ability to pull them out effortlessly when a suitable situation arose.

I remember getting in trouble when I was about 9. My mother came at me with the wooden spoon (it was the done thing back then) when I looked her in the eye and said ‘Mother, violence is never the answer’.

She was speechless, and I didn’t get the wooden spoon.

My imagination has always been vivid and writing gave me an outlet for the endless ideas that emanated from the deep recesses of my mind.

I was happiest with my nose in a book, or scribbling away in a journal.

Not everyone appreciated my way with words

I’ve written elsewhere about my poor decision to marry my first husband and the decades of abuse that followed. What I haven’t shared before now is how marrying an angry abusive man stunted and then completely halted my creativity.

My ex was illiterate. Illiteracy is a tragic thing and I feel for anyone who has to live with it. My love of books and articulate speech enraged him. He wanted my constant attention. Gradually, as a result of his behavior and threats, I resorted to only reading when he wasn’t there to chastise me.

As is the case in abusive relationships, I gradually lost touch with who I was and minimized my talents in an attempt to help him feel less inferior. It was easier to fan the flames of his ego and try to forget my love of writing.

Instead I studied law

In this story I shared about my experiences with high school bullying. I dropped out part way through my second last year. Six years later, and after I had married my first husband, I started university as a mature age student. After six long years of juggling work and study and then early motherhood and study, I graduated with my degree.

My son’s disability meant that I could not start working immediately. At 35, after he started school, I was finally admitted as a lawyer and began my professional life.

I love law. It gives me a daily dose of my favorite things.

Law is a tough gig. Sixty hour work weeks are not uncommon. But it has placed me in a unique position where I can genuinely help people and I love that. I love people.

It also pays very well.

Yet, after 11 years of successful practice something was still missing. I wasn’t fulfilled. The cold hard reality is this.

Most of the time, I’m just helping people in the pursuit of more money.

Money isn’t everything

I know, it’s easy for me to say. But we adapt our lifestyle to match our income. Then we become dependent on it. But the truth is, there is a lot more to me than an intelligent articulate woman with a knack for applying the law to circumstances.

There is more to me than being a mere clog in the wheels of justice.

I’ve been through a great deal in the last 30 years. I have been to the bottom of the pit of despair. I know what it feels like to believe that death would bring welcome relief.

Now that I have come out the other side, I’m desperate to use my life experience to help others.

Being free to write has changed me

My ex husband controlled everything except my reading and my thoughts.

I eventually broke free and am now very happily re-married. My husband and I have a beautiful relationship where we each do our best to prioritize the other’s needs over our own.

It works if both parties do it, neither misses out on anything.

He supports my writing. He is my editor and proofreader. He paces up and down while I’m writing, itching for the next installment.

It’s such a blessing when the one you love, supports you to do the thing you love.

So now I write

I love stories, and the thought that mine may help someone else, that is enough to keep me writing.

But something changed in me when I started to earn more than a few cents on Medium, when my stats got to $5 per day.

I gave myself permission to say “I am a writer”.

But the truth is I’ve always been one

Now when someone asks me ‘what do you do’ I reply with a question.

I say “are you asking what I do for money?”

Because that’s an odd question if you think about it. No matter what we do to pay the bills, none of us are identified solely on what that is. I don’t want to be identified as a lawyer. It’s just what I do for money, not who I am.

Wouldn’t a better question be “what makes you, you?”

For me the answer is writing.

Because whilst law pays my bills, it’s writing that unlocks the pain, and treasure in my soul.

It’s writing that tells me that none of the pain that I have endured is for nothing.

It’s writing that proves to me, that I have a story worth telling.

It’s writing that has helped me to finally work out who I am.

I am a writer.

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