SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
I’ve decided to skip the normal platitudes this year, and celebrate Thanksgiving by saying I’m thankful for having too much to do and not enough time to do it.
It’s not that the normal stuff isn’t still true; it’s just too – done. There’s being Thankful for:
Family. “Aunt Ida’s coming for dinner. Hide the booze and the good china!”
Good health. “Doc, now that I’m fifty you want to put what where?”
Our children: “Bail you out?!?”
Our leaders. “Gee, I hope that Congressional heated swimming pool makes their sore spending muscles all better.”
Our world. “In other news, a cyclone today made landfall on an erupting volcano, causing the first recorded Steam Storm.”
Having a roof over our head. “Honey, did you install a shower in the living room, or do I need to get on the roof with a pail of tar?”
The weather: “I lost the snow blower in a drift!”
Good food: “I’m not saying it’s time for a diet, but if buttons keep popping across the room I’ll have to buy safety glasses.”
As far as I’m concerned, this is the year when anyone with a job should be singing the praises of good work. It’s not as much fun as being thankful for your favorite sports team “How ‘bout those Cubs?” but it puts food on the table “What is stuffing, anyway?”
I’m fortunate enough to have between two and four jobs, depending on how you count them. None are perfect, but at least half of them pay more than what I spend in gas and Xanax, so who’s to complain? A bad job is better than a good day on the unemployment line.
I’ve been there, back in the 80’s. I did the unemployment thing, the food stamps, the government cheese – you couldn’t melt that stuff with a nuclear bomb – and eventually I went to work making $2 an hour harvest bee moths for bait.
So yeah, too much work beats too little, any day.
Now, as all nine of my regular readers know, I’ve been struggling to start a fiction writing career for some time. How long? Let’s just say government cheese was a late indication that, if I planned on rolling in riches, I chose the wrong vocation.
One thing experienced writers assured me of was that when I started obtaining success in that industry, I’d get more busy – not less. That movie/TV thing that shows writers running around without a care, solving crimes and sipping champagne, is pure bunk: Castle, Jessica Fletcher, and all the rest of the TV writers would have been canceled if the show writers (there’s an irony) showed them in dull reality: Slaving away over a hot keyboard, hour after hour, or slamming ibuprofen while tackling the latest revisions, or obsessing over the tiniest minutia of their five hundred and eighth query letter.
When I hit a milestone moment earlier this year, and signed my first novel contract (Storm Chaser, due out in 2011 through Whiskey Creek Press – gotta sell the soap), I made the determination that it was time to grab that brass ring. Once I knew I could sell a novel, once I had the proof, I had to put my all into it if I was to succeed as a writer.
Since then I’ve been putting in dozens of hours every week: Working on stories, the synopsis, the query letter, revising, researching markets and agents, developing an author’s platform – and this in addition to my other jobs.
Writing is a full time job, if you’re to succeed at it. But even those who do succeed usually can’t afford to give up their day jobs for many years, often never.
I wonder if my fiancée would have agreed to marry me if she’d known I’d be working two full time jobs for decades? Thank goodness she’s a writer, too – maybe someday she’ll forgive me for what I’m about to put her through.
At least she’s got her snake for company. Which reminds me, I need to write a column about that snake – my part time jobs didn’t stop just because other work came along. I won’t be quitting anything soon: right now the shine of having sold a novel is being accompanied, financially, by a big fat goose egg.
I’m okay with that.
I’m okay with it because it’s accompanied by all that other good stuff – my roof may be leaky, but it’s a roof. My car may need work, but it goes down the road. My family may need work, too! But they’re my family, and they’re there. We’ve got pretty darn good food – I don’t have to eat ramen unless I want to, usually.
Yeah, and I’ve got a fiancée who loves me despite my myriad of faults, not to mention my schedule.
So I’m thankful. For all that I complain – I’m a columnist, so it’s my job – and for all that life can be bad …
I’m busy, so life’s good.