Practical advice and personal wisdom from a four-time cancer survivor.

Why writing a book terrifies me

February 20, 2017 by Julie Negrin

HONEST CONFESSION: I blame my cookbook for my health. So many people have suggested that I write a book. And I’m not sure if anyone notices but I often shy away from the idea. There is a reason why. It’s a long story but essentially I pitched my kids cookbook to publishers a tad too early – 2006 or thereabouts – before the kids cooking thing became “trendy.” I decided to self-publish. I used up my entire nest egg. It took me several years. I ended up going through a horrible company (which is why it’s priced so high on Amazon, so high no one buys it). I published it in Sept 2010. They found the melanoma shortly afterwards. I had my one and only UC flare-up in nearly 20 years that summer. When they found the ovarian masses in early 2014, she said they’d been growing for 3 years. I knew immediately that they started growing in 2010. I think I took off maybe 10 days that whole year. I worked 2 jobs that summer. I didn’t take care of myself. I wasn’t eating right. I stressed myself so badly…This is why I rarely even mention that cookbook – even though I’m so proud of it. I think it turned out great (except for the photos). But I also hate it, truth be told. It represents everything I did wrong with my business, my health, my life.

Did I trade 4 organs and, possibly, my life to accomplish my dream?

Should I have picked the less complicated road? Not pursued being the free-spirited artist? Married some nice hunk, gotten a regular ‘ole job and worked on my garden every spring? If I’d gone down that road, had kids, and been stressed out from normal life, would the cancers still arrived in my life? Was this road some sort of destiny? Or, do we have other parallel lives that we can choose to walk down?

I’ll never know the answers. At least not while alive.

I know that it’s a huge compliment that people suggest that I write a book. It’s just that for me….the idea is so loaded. Even growing my online presence frightens me. More exposure leads to more work. More work leads to more stress. I know it doesn’t HAVE to be that way, but that’s all I know. I don’t seem to have that “turn off work” button most people have. And it scares me. So I don’t push my blog out to the world. I rarely share my posts on Twitter.

Brene Brown said she had a conversation with herself about why she kept her work “small” for so long.

I know why I’m keeping mine small. Because I’m terrible at managing work stress. Because I don’t want more cancer. Because I feel overwhelmed at the idea of going bigger. It could literally kill me. If I don’t handle it correctly.

In our culture, if we have some sort of talent, our first thought is to leverage it for a bigger audience, monetize it, get public adoration.

I see it all differently now.

In so many ways, I traded 4 organs and my health for this writing voice. As I’ve said many times, if it happened for a reason, because I’m supposed to help people, then I’m ok with that. But I don’t want to push it out into the world any earlier than it’s supposed to be. I want to be the singer on the side of the road, bringing my music to whoever wants to listen. Let it all unfold organically.

I wanted to be a beautiful writer so much of my life. More than anything else in the world. We are indoctrinated to want things that culture says we should want. But I bucked all of that and went with my heart.

I tell all the young people I mentor now to go to business school or get a technology degree. The artist’s road is a rocky one.

The reality, though, is that there are always sacrifices, no matter which road you take. I feel like most of my peers in their mid-40s, we all get that now. There is no certainty in any road we choose.

It all feels too fragile right now to worry about organizing it, submitting it, editing it for other people…sigh, maybe one day.

It’s my therapy, my joy, my absolute luxury to finally be able to express what’s in my heart, my soul. And for now, that’s all I need it to be.

Thanks for being my muses, my writing coaches, my teachers. You guys know by now, that I could never have found this voice without you listening to me these past three years.

A voice can’t be found if nobody hears it.

I will forever be grateful to you for that. It’s made this journey so much easier to bear….

Much love, Jules

Original post on my personal FB page

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  • Hi, my name is Julie Negrin. I’m a nutritionist that’s battled 4 cancers: melanoma, ovarian, colon, and endometrial cancer — the last 3 all at once — due to a genetic disorder called Lynch Syndrome. In the three years since I lost four organs, I've been slowly transforming to "disabled" after living a mostly able-bodied life. I've also had a bunch of other complications including not being able to eat solid foods.... Stick around if you're not afraid of the ugly bits. Much love,

    Much love,

    Julie Negrin

    About Julie & Cancer Teacher

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