A Writer Reflects

Writer-once-upon-a-time-1024x576Earlier this week I was sitting a table in the breakroom at my day job, scribbling down story ideas. A random coworker approached and jokingly ask if I was writing a book. I answered straight-faced with a “yes”, causing him to look at me funny. With a sigh, I stopped writing and reached for my wallet to pull out a business card. I explained that yes I do write fiction, mostly fantasy, and had several things available on Amazon if he were interested.

o'connorI didn’t know this person. My day job is in a building with probably 400 people. I don’t know them all but I had seen this gentleman before in passing. The sigh was involuntary because I was being interrupted. Its the same as when you are trying to read or watch a movie and someone keeps talking to you. With a book or a movie often you can go back to the last line you read or rewind the film. When you are writing and someone interrupts your thoughts are gone once derailed depending on when they interrupt. In this case, everything was pouring out off the cuff and when I got suddenly got brought back to reality it was like someone turned off the water while I was drinking from the fountain.

Earlier that day I had been asked a question. I was stuck in a meeting with around sixty other people and happened to mention to one of my work friends that I have a new book of short stories out. This elicited surprise from those nearby, which confused me. I’m a writer. I don’t hide it. I thought I was quite obvious about it but it seems I wasn’t as apparent as I thought I was.

I was then asked, “If you are a writer, why aren’t you rich?”

I laughed because it doesn’t work that way. If all it took was to write and be semi-decent On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by [King, Stephen]at it to become well off, the distribution of wealth would be much different than what it is. My answer was: “Because I am not Stephen King, and even he started off writing in the laundry room.” (I work at an appliance company so this was met with more amusement than average.)

non-fictionIt is intriguing to note that people still equate books with wealth. Once upon a time books were hard to come by and only the wealthy had them. However, even then, the people that wrote the books were not as well off as the people that read them. Unless you are one of the few who receive a lot of advertising and tend to be decently prolific, writing a book is not the way to fame and fortune. Which isn’t why most writers write anyway.

I mean, we wouldn’t mind a little of the fortune. We all have bills to pay and would love the chance to be able to do so without worry or the necessity of having another job. It’s just not the way things usually work; regardless if you go the traditional publishing route, go indie, or do a combination of the two.

There are some writers who make a good living. I hope to be one of them someday. I library-425730_1920think that is the hope of most writers. Those that are actually in it for the fame and fortune are usually disappointed unless they have very good marketing teams.

Could I be more successful than I am right now? Oh absolutely. I just need to get over my ingrained insecurities, stop sighing at people who interrupt my writing when they may be potential customers, actually finish the dozens of writing projects I’ve got in the works, and then tell lots and lots of people that I have books and they should read them instead of hoping for some kind of divine osmosis to happen where everyone just suddenly knows my stuff exists.

I’ll get there one day.

dream time

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A rather depressing state

dust-cloud-593091_1920Recently I have been learning a great deal about the American Great Depression of the 1920’s and 30’s.  My grandparents were children during this period and it echoed throughout the rest of their lives. The more I learn the more I wonder if we aren’t heading for another one.

I know, I know, the politicians tell us that the depression of the past few years is over. However, it is an election year so they will say that. It also gives them an easy platforms to preach from because so many voters need similar things right now.

I don’t usually get into political topics because I don’t have the time or patience to make sure the boiling pot doesn’t boil over. I will make some observations though, because I see parallels between what I have been learning and what is going on today. I hear and read people constantly putting down and insulting those on welfare. Many of those programs came to be during the depression era. In pictures, I see the shame on the faces of the adults warring with relief as they wait in commodities lines for food to feed their families. These were people that were proud to worked hard. But at that time it didn’t matter how much they sweated in the fields or pounded the pavement in search of work. The rewards for diligence simply were not there.

Today I think if people look close they will see that same warring shame and weary relief on many of the faces of welfare today. True you still have those that abuse the system and see it as cart to carry them, rather than the hand up to help them stand it is supposed to be. Those aren’t the people the programs were created for.

The politicians will tell you that unemployment has gone down over the past few years. They will tell you hundreds of new jobs have opened up. What they don’t tell you is that many jobs that used to exist have vanished and many of the new positions are part time. With the health care reform acts many companies have been forced to provide insurance for their full time employees. This sounds like a good thing on paper.

However, insurance companies are being forced to accept new rules too. Since no one wants a drop in profits, they raise rates and adjust things here and there to keep their margins where they want it. The companies, who may not have a problem with the idea of helping their employees with health insurance, also don’t want profits to drop so they stop hiring full time employees and find insurance companies who offer lower prices for less coverage. The letter of the law is met and the bottom line protected even as the out of pocket cost rises for the average worker.

Everyone is required to have insurance or be fined, but few can find full time positions. Those lucky few that do, find that the hours they work are just barely enough to qualify as full time. Their take home pay is gouged severely by insurance premiums, taxes, stagnate wages, and minimum hours. Many work two or three part time jobs but still only bring home hardly enough to cover the basic bills.

Some of these employees apply for welfare from the over loaded system. They are working hard but it isn’t enough to both keep the rent paid and feed hungry mouths, much like the dust bowl farmers of the 30’s.  Others tighten already tighten belts until their ribs crack. Morale drops even as stubborn determination sets in. Families suffer under stress. Many are single parent homes, where the parent has to work several jobs and the kids go unattended. The choice these people must make is, Do I want to spend time with my children? Or do I want to feed them?

All of this means that the idea of “disposable income” is a joke. Sure those with the bonuses can buy the new car, house, or bass boat. But the backbone of the working class cannot. Most of them can’t even afford new shoes for aching feet.

The retail worker, the server, the cashier, the teacher,…the list goes on, these people are struggle financially. No one looks too close however. Even those fighting don’t really want to know how close to the edge they are.

If this routine continues, like an inflatable raft with a leak, the economy will eventually sink. The middle class that is supposed to blow air into the nozzle to keep it afloat can’t breath any more. And like dustbowl farmers before the droughts, the big money makers keep trying to increase their crops even though few are buying.

Eventually it will all turn to dust.

Life got busy

I missed my post on Monday. Life has been happening at high speeds around here lately. Not only was it a work week, but I am still homeschooling my youngest, and my ex-husband has decided he is moving to another state in a week or so.

Basically I had my hands full being mom, teacher, employee, and writer. The blog post was one of the things that ended up falling by the wayside. I submitted a story and two poems to various places this week too.

Saturday my neighbor is planning on having a yard sale and I agree to have one too, because more stuff hopefully will draw more people. Or if you look at it from my perspective, grocery money is a good thing. (Not that we are going hungry or anything but variety is a scarce thing in our meals right now.)

Sunday there is going to be a total lunar eclipse. I am planning on dragging the kids outside to watch, preferably through the lens of a telescope, but with the naked eye works too. So if you see a bunch of people standing out in their yards on Sunday night around 9 or 10 pm, the eclipse is probably why they are staring into the night. Also, the moon will be at its yearly closest point to the Earth; so that means it will be 13% bigger.

Children Teach Your Parents Well

Monday evening I took my 12yr old daughter to Middle School Orientation. Afterward, we talked about stopping by the pet store and I learned a lesson in humility.

One of the wild cats, that live in the small wood between our house and the neighbors, had kittens. I often leave food on the porch for the gold bob tail cat (Genjo) that adopted us, and this mother cat saw this as a good opportunity for free food. (Three babies are a lot of mouths to feed.) Not more than a kitten herself, the black mama cat brought her babies closer and not long after we began seeing three little black kittens on the front porch. Two had tails, one did not.

(Genjo and I had a chat about this but he was unimpressed. He doesn’t mind sharing his food bowl with the kittens though. He even lets them cuddle under his chin to eat. He takes a bite, then they take a bite. Odd behavior for a Tom, but he has always been sweet.)

Soon however, I began noticing a problem. The kittens had allergies or something in their eyes. (WARNING: .If you are eating or drinking, or have a soft stomach I would advise reading this post later or skipping the next couple of paragraphs.) Their little blue eyes oozed white stuff. A day later their eyes were matted crusty shut. One seemed unaffected, one seemed mildly okay, but the little bob tail kitten couldn’t see at all. The bobtail was also the only kitten that allowed us to pick him up.

So we gently bathed his eyes with a warm wet paper towel and wiped away the gunk covering his eyes. He could see again and ran off with his mama and siblings. The next day he was in the same shape and we had to do it again. Then we didn’t see him for a day and it got worse. More white stuff oozed out of his eyes when we cleaned the top layer off. He was more often found alone on the porch than with the others in the grass. I began to fear he wasn’t going to make it and tired to prepare for the worst.

(Okay you can read now. I will keep the gross lite.)

Then Monday evening came around and we thought about going to the pet store to see if there was anything that could help. The problem was, of course, money. I just spent the weekend getting the kids ready for school, the cable bill was past due, and I had another week before pay day.

As we sat in the parking lot of the pet store and I weighed my monetary obligations, my daughter spoke up. “But the kitten could die! Isn’t that more important?!”

It was one of those moments they show in the movies where the character’s voice echoes. Her voice echoed its way right past my heart and hit me in the soul. Was I really considering that T.V. and internet were more important that a life? Was I really weighing money on a scale with a kitten’s life on the other side?  I thought about how its tiny body felt in my hand as I wiped its eyes, and the way it had bounced around when it could see again. I felt lower than gum melted on the sidewalk.

We got out of the car and went into the store. There were a few things that might help so we bought them. For the past three days I have wiped the kitten down with kitten wipes and he seems to be doing better. This morning I had to do the same to his sibling. My mom is looking for places that might take them in and help. It the mean time we will keep on what we are doing and pray that it is enough.

Meetings, Bills, and Doughnuts

Monday, Monday. The fact that I remember what day it is should be cause for rejoicing.  The fact that I also remembered to post should mean balloons, a parade, and cake. Sadly, as I look out my window, I see none of those things.

We did have doughnuts at a meeting at work, but I had to stay after work for the meeting so that kind of took the joy out it. I still devoured a couple of glazed confections but the meeting left me glassy eyed. (Coming off of a twelve hour shift that isn’t hard to accomplish.)

After the meeting ended, instead of coming directly home, I had to run by the electric company and have a chat with them. My water bill had bi-polar. One month it was normal and reasonable then suddenly it jumped to extremes.

The people I spoke with were very nice. They are looking into the problem and in the mean time reimbursing me for some of the bill and for when I had problem with the toilet constantly running way back in March. I was surprised. I had no clue they took leaks and such into account.

It is time for me to go to bed. I am feeling a bit punch drunk and I am spending more time starring at the computer than typing.  Tomorrow I have to stop by my insurance company to discuss my home and auto insurance.

I stopped by today, after the electric company, but their computers were down. I am trying to find a way to save a little money.  I used to have my home and auto bundled together and I am looking to do it again. Separating them was a mistake.

🙂 All of this taking care of things makes me feel like a real grown up.

I’m not really, you know. I’m just good at faking it when the need arises. Now if I can just pull the act off when I meet the kids’ teachers for the first time next week…

Balance and money

charles delintI usually post what is on my mind here, though sometimes I hesitate.  Today what is on my mind is the balance of my bank account.  I hesitate to write about it because it is so low and I worry what people may think.  I mean I know it is low and how it got that low and I am not really worried beyond making sure I have enough gas in the car to make it to Friday.  If worse comes to worse I can always borrow from my kids. (Yes it is robbing piggy banks but I always pay them back with interest.)

My night/day job doesn’t really pay a ton, but it is enough to get by.  I have had friends try no-moneyto convince me to find a different job, maybe one that pays more and that is a little safer.  I always brush them off because I don’t think they really understand where I am coming from.

Nothing against them. They love and worry about me and I get that. However, their lives run differently than mine.  The friends that suggest this are happily married with two incomes and two people to pull kid duty.  I just have me.  My ex-husband and I are on good terms, and he loves his kids, but it is still just me day in and day out when it all comes down to it.  I don’t know what I would do with out my mom to baby sit while I work.

mugging forkTrue I work nights. True it is some what dangerous, but I don’t see it as more dangerous than working elsewhere.  Also I get every other week off to be home, to help at school, to work on my writing. (Which is what I love to do anyway.)  I am here when my kids get home from school.  I eat dinner with them and help them with their homework.  I sleep while they are at school and work while they are asleep.  I am here to pick them up if they get sick or to go to school functions when they need me. (Even if it means giving up sleep.)

So yeah, my job doesn’t pay great and I am just scraping by, but the benefits out way the money.  The money problem will be helped by getting stuff written and published.  Then I snoopywill be getting paid from both jobs.  Or at least that is what I keep telling myself and those that worry.

 

…How you measure success

black-41201_640Okay so my self inflicted schedule says that I only do blog posts on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Today is neither Monday or Wednesday, yet I felt the need to share this link.  I think it makes a person think.  What is important?  How do you measure success?

http://stephanie-osborn.blogspot.com/2013/08/guest-post-by-aaron-paul-lazar-for.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CometTales+%28Comet+Tales%29&utm_content=Yahoo!+Mail