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This post is not meant to discourage you unpublished writers out there.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.


Linda G. said...

Oh, Cynthia. That just bites. I am so sorry.

Odd as it may sound, I AM the praying kind. The Big Guy and I have a special arrangement. (Okay, so He mostly just puts up with me. He's understanding that way.) I will definitely add you to prayers.

And you know what? As corny and trite as it may sound (and me a writer -- sorry!), I do believe that God doesn't close one door without opening another. Or at least a window. Something good will come of this, you just wait and see.


Piedmont Writer said...

I'm with Linda. Another door will open soon.

I'm in the exact same boat so I know how you feel. But it'll get better.

You can't let it get you down.

Al said...

What terrible news. I am so sorry.
Thank goodness your house is yours and you have had the foresight to be careful.

I truly hope things turn around soon.
All the best with the job hunting.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Cynthia, my heart is breaking for you! You are definitely in my prayers.

This economy is just awful, and it alarms me how it continues to pound and pound away at jobs and people's lives.

But I know how hard working and determined you are - you're the kind of person that makes good luck spin your way (not the refrigerator disaster kind, and the family loss kind - that can and does happen to everyone). But the kind that makes the phrase "persistence pays off" more than just a cliche.

Hang in there lovely lady!

Jessica Lemmon said...

Absolutely, will include you in my prayers! Husband lost his job Tuesday, for the same reason - his position was eliminated. This came on the heels of being laid off in December and subsequently unemployed for the entire winter.

This may sound cheesy, but thanks to a little finance class we took through our bank - - we have handled each crisis as if it were an inconvenience.

Hang in there, and I'll be thinking of you!

Lickety Splitter said...

Oh no! I'm so sorry about your job. I share your financial philosophy and I too like to be prepared for the worst. You are definitely better off than most, but losing a job is probably one of the top three stressors in life -- no walk in the park for sure. Take care of you honey! I will be praying for you. Hugs ... more hugs ... even more hugs!

Tawna Fenske said...

I couldn't believe it when you called me with this news on Tuesday. When you said you thought you were due for another curveball, I was so sure it would be the opposite -- that you'd end up winning the lottery or something.

The good news is that you are hands-down one of the toughest people I know, and this is another way for you to show Kiddo how a strong, smart, capable woman conducts herself in even the most dire circumstances. She'll be proud of you. I know I am.

Hang in there!

Sara Best said...

Wow, that just sucks!

But, even though it might be hard to see it now, something tells me that you're going to come through this just fine. You seem to me like the type who takes on all challanges head on and usually wins.

You have a supportive family that loves you and a huge community of us out here who are cheering you on.

I'm sending all my happy thoughts your way.

Cynthia Reese said...

Oh, man, guys. You have no idea how your comments warm my heart at this particular time. Today I packed up my office, and it really, really hit me. So when I read your comments, they hit the spot.

Linda G, I can definitely see that you ARE the praying kind -- and God does more than just put up with you. He loves you, because God don't make no junk. ;-)

Anne, thanks so much for the encouragement -- it counts a lot coming from someone in a similar situation.

Al, I am definitely counting my blessings that we were smart enough to put some back for a rainy day -- because the storm clouds look mighty dark. Or maybe that's just so that I can better see the rainbow when it appears?

Susan, yes, the economy is awful, and I understand that probably more cuts are coming at my dayjob. Oh, what I would give if not a single person had to hear the news I got on Tuesday!

Oh, Jessica! Yikes, what a bummer! My heart goes out to y'all, because I know EXACTLY what you're going through. Love Dave Ramsey's philosophy, and I would say I've taken a modified approach.

Lickety Splitter, I was thinking of that stress inventory shrinks use -- you know, the major life stressors check list? I'd blow that sucker right on up. ;-) With encouragers like you, I'll be sure and remember to take care of me.

Tawna, I was telling The Husband that with odds like I've been having that I SHOULD go buy a lottery ticket -- and I don't even believe in the lottery! ;-)

Sara, they do say that people are like tea bags ... they never know how strong they are until they get into a little hot water. I hope I can prove to be up to the challenge!

wordsareforwriting said...

Sorry to hear about your terrible news Cynthia.

I´m sure that you'll be able to pull through it.

All the best with the job hunt!

Anonymous said...

Sending good vibes your way! ((hugs))