Thursday, August 12, 2010
Annnd right outta left field
The year that The Husband and I got married was a banner year. There were huge thunder boomers every night that summer, until two or three in the morning. Our well pump got struck by one of those lightning bolts. My car burned up. I was diagnosed first with arthritis (nope) and then with lupus (nope, again) and finally fibromyalgia (check). And one evening I came in from work to find that the freezer compartment in our ancient, single door fridge had come loose and fallen into my eggs and my butter.
It was just not a good year for the roses.
This past year has been that way, too, since October when my mom got sick, and then in November she passed away. That seemed to unleash all manner of torment, from little things like our kitchen floor getting ruined by a cantankerous, tired old dishwasher, to really big and awful things.
It seemed like every time I would get a handle on things, another curve ball would slam past me across the plate. In fact, I was just emailing Tawna Fenske earlier this week that I was about due for another curve ball, because I was beginning to get settled in over my latest misfortunes.
Sure enough ... I was called in for a meeting with two other ladies at my dayjob on Tuesday and told, "You do good work, we hate to lose you, but this economy is making it impossible to keep you."
I freaked. I have been working a public job since I was 17 years old, even before that at my parents' business, and I'd never, ever been let go. Plus, I am the one who carries the health benefits.
The cold hard truth about writing for a living is that you have to sell a LOT of books before you can give up that dayjob. Think about it. Your royalty for a paperback comes in roughly at a quarter a book, depending on the cover price. That's gross pay, before your self-employment taxes, before you pay for private insurance, before you pay for your writing expenses (and they do add up.)
The health insurance is the real kicker. At least in Georgia, there's not really a good alternative to group plans through an employer. Private insurance can set a family back $1,500 a month -- and that's with a $5,000 deductible on each family member. I know that, because my optometrist was recently bewailing the high cost of coverage for his family.
This post is not meant to discourage you unpublished writers out there. It's just to put it in perspective how much of a loss my dayjob is to me, despite the fact that I am published. Keep that dayjob, unless you are lucky enough to have dependable coverage through some other option.
As for me, I've shed a few tears, the numbness is wearing off, and I'm getting myself in gear for a job hunt. We're better off than some folks in our position: our house, never that expensive to begin with -- is now paid off, our cars, which we drive until the wheels fall off, are paid for, we have a little savings, and very little consumer debt. We tend to be frugal, mainly because I've always been paranoid about this very thing happening.
I have some leads for job opportunities. I've dusted off the resume. And in between filling out applications and (hopefully) going for interviews, I'm going to be working like mad on the edits for the book I'm trying to revise. I'm not waiting for luck, any more than I'm waiting for that ol' Muse to come staggering in with her feather boa and her stilettos. Nope, I'm going to tackle this with the same faith, hope and optimism (not to mention hard work) that got me my first publishing deal.
But if you're the praying kind, please, please, keep our little family in your prayers.