LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A Lakewood Ranch resident whose specialty was interior design and architecture found herself unemployed during the recession, and, while continuing to look for work, devoted her talents to a new endeavor: writing a book.
She began writing in 2009, and Part I of the paperback edition of “Jeanne X: A Cry,” came out Nov. 16, published by Amazon.com’s self-publishing arm, called CreateSpace.
The proud author, Donna Hedricks, 49, said of the book, “Call it a fictional saga, based on a true-life story.”
In the book, the heroine, Jeanne, struggles with an alcoholic family member, but finally reaches enlightenment to save herself and her children.
“This book is really important to me because I’ve been there, done that,” said Hedricks, who now manages a shop at Lakewood Ranch Main Street.
“It felt like I was on a mission, I was the conduit for the story that came out,” said Hedricks, who is originally from Lancaster County, Pa., but has been a resident of Lakewood Ranch 15 years.
She hopes to help others to squarely face addiction.
“The emphasis is on the enabler,” said Hedricks. “You do hear some thoughts from the addicted person, but what it exposes is how people fall into enabling addiction.”
The book also deals with the generational disease of alcoholism or addiction -- not just the person taking the substance, she said.
Hedricks said the book is an actual dramatized story, with self-help advice injected by the “all-knowing” narrator and others.
“It’s more entertaining than self-help books,” she said.
When she’s not working, Hedricks is already editing Part II.
The author may have found a second calling as a result of family ties: Her family in Pennsylvania ran a bookbinding business, and her grandfather wrote books on printing. Her mother has published a book, and her sister writes short stories.
“We just have a lot to say,” said Hedricks.
She left home at 22 in a job search and came to Florida in 1983.
In 1991, Hedricks graduated from Sarasota’s Ringling College of Art and Design, specializing in interior design.
After graduation, she married and had two children, but the marriage ended in 1999.
After the divorce, she found herself a breadwinner for her children, Grant, now 16 and Leah, now 14 -- both students at Lakewood Ranch High School.
In 2001, Hedricks returned to school at the University of South Florida, working toward a master’s degree in architecture, and all went well -- for awhile.
She ran her own business, and worked with other firms, too. She helped Sarasota architect Gary Hoyt with many of the Lakewood Ranch buildings that now stand around the little shop she manages, Artisans’ World Marketplace, 8130 Lakewood Main St., Suite 103.
“She focused more on interiors, but helped on architectural drawings, too,” remembered Hoyt, of Hoyt Architects, based in Sarasota.
Hedricks said she was able to provide for her family very well until the recession intervened.
Many of her talented friends and associates quickly became unemployed as the economy worsened, she said. Some moved away to take jobs elsewhere, she said.
But like her strong heroine Jeanne, Hedricks persevered at Lakewood Ranch.
“It’s not been easy,” she allowed.
Now, she’s thankful to have a job, and is proud of the little shop she manages.
It imports craft items for sale from faraway places like Zimbabwe and Guatemala, and ensures native craftsmen and women are paid a fair price for their work.
An artist herself as well as a writer and architect, she can identify with their struggle to survive.
She also wonders whether her family may also produce yet another generation that is creatively driven, she said.
“My daughter is an avid reader,” she laughed.
Still, she does miss her design career, and although she is not yet a licensed architect, she would love to do freelance projects on the side, she said.
“I really do miss designing, and I hope I will be able to use all my skills,” she added.
For information on the book, email firstname.lastname@example.org