I have Nothing. Or Too Much.


As the name implies, sometimes I have time to write. Sometimes, I don’t. This was one of those “don’t” times.

I have a feeling that soon enough, it will be one of those “do” times. In spades. The layoffs at work have begun. They say it’s seasonal, and maybe that’s true. Summer is a slow time and maybe it will pick up again in September. Then again, it tends to be slow in summer for a lot of companies in many different industries and they don’t lay off. Especially unexpectedly and without warning. I have my doubts this is “seasonal.”

In any event, I decided now was a good time to fire up the resume and start looking around. Just in case. While I’d love nothing more than to have time to sit around and write (until I got frustrated and started banging my head against the desk) the reality is that there are bills to be paid and therefore, I need money. Like an actual reliable, I can count on this being in my checking account twice a month kind of job.

Way back when, before this “I’m gonna be a writer!” thing, I was a manager. A person in charge of hiring and firing. A person with a master’s degree. A person with a lot to offer.

In an entirely different field.

And, by that I mean, not a writing field. Not a journalist field. Not a marketing field. Not a new media field. Something totally different. So, while I have a lot of experience and an advanced degree, it’s not in the right field. Not even a related field.

Which is not entirely true. I’ve been freelancing for a while, so I have a body of work, but nothing very current and with my name on it. That’s the funny thing about the Internet. It changes. Constantly. So, stuff I did, say 2 years ago, is gone. I have the originals but no active links on the Internet. That means it doesn’t count.

Lots of people don’t really want to talk to me because of that advanced degree and experience as the in-charge type. They make assumptions about the amount of pay that I’ll work for or what kind of team player I would be. Sure, they call me in for an interview because they have to, to make their hiring pool look good, but then I get in there and it’s a whole bunch of questions that make them wonder why I’d even bother applying in the first place.

It’s hard to say in an interview, Well, I never should have gotten that degree to begin with. I just wasn’t ready for the real world and it seemed kind of interesting, so, you know, I did that, even though, deep down, I never really wanted to it’s just that I lacked good guidance and certain skills to say that and sort of ended up there and I don’t know how but I just woke up one day and there I was in a job I really loathed because of choices and mistakes I made years ago. Then smile sheepishly, because that’s always cool to do in an interview.

It’s tough, I know. I’ve been in their shoes. On the one hand, I don’t really fit what they want in a candidate. And the next 16 applicants do, so why would they hire me? On the other hand, I’ve got an advanced degree, so obviously I must be kind of smart and persistent and all sorts of cool sounding corporate buzz words, but what’s to say I won’t get bored with the job and leave when something better paying, more interesting or more ______________ comes along?

I’d love to start each application with: Look! I’m a writer. Obviously, I’m not in to big pay checks and glory. And I’ve been working for peanuts for the last year! Clearly I’m willing to compromise on everything!

But I would say it in a much less desperate way. because no matter what I can or can’t offer an employer, I’m a writer. That’s what I do. Make it all sound better than it really is.


Where Do I Go Now

One of the coolest parts of being a writer is that you can work anywhere. Home, coffee shop, library, beach. Wherever.

Presuming you actually get work done.

I’ve learned I can’t work from home. I’ve had an inordinate amount of time the last few days to write while at home, but I haven’t written. Too many distractions. Or excuses. Whatever you want to call them.

So, I’m at the coffee shop, writing. I’ve got the essentials: coffee, cake, bathrooms and a ridiculous amount of people to watch. That could be the downfall. I’m busy composing character sketches in my head, wondering if I can fit them into the WIP.

I can see the corporate office is here, monitoring, watching, timing. That’s got to be nerve racking. They’re just staring at the baristas, timing them, looking at manuals, monitoring them. Not saying anything. Just looking cheery and bright. It’s all a ruse. I just know it. Underneath lurks the cold, dark heart of a corporate cost-cutter, looking for ways to improve efficiency, without any regards to the humanity of the situation.

There’s the guy I only glanced at. I could only see his white shoes and white socks. Bright white. Blinding white.

The guy in the corner is creeping me out. This place is longer that it is wider and on the back wall, there’s a little seating area consisting of two comfy looking chairs, and a little table. What’s odd is that just in front of this seating area is a few display racks. They’re open shelves, but chock full of stuff, so you can’t really see behind it and, really, who’s looking behind the display rack?

This guy is essentially hiding back there. Is it on purpose? This place is very crowded today (it usually is in the AM), so maybe he didn’t have a choice, but he’s hunkered down in the chair, typing furiously into a lap top. Or is he? The way his glasses sit on his face, his eyes are somewhat obscured and it’s hard to tell if he’s looking at the screen or around the cafe, taking inventory of all of us. Plotting something.

I’m at the communal table and the corporate people sat down at the other end. I’m plugged into headphones and really trying not to overhear, but, they don’t know that. They can’t tell that Pandora is on and I don’t care what they have to say. I could be listening, gleaning corporate secrets on the best way to brew coffee (I really would like that information) or learning about personnel secrets I can leverage for blackmail.

Man! Too many distractions! At least there are fun and possibly useful for the WIP. But, we’ll see what I get done.

Which leads me to ask: Where do you work? Where are you most productive and least distracted? Am I the only one that creates back stories for everyone I meet?

Edited to add: The irony of this post is that while I got a lot done today, I had to come home to retype this into WordPress because something was messed up and I couldn’t copy and paste!

Where’s the Sunshine

Just as I suspected they would, they told me not to come in to work today. More time to work on the WIP. Yippee.

Oh, sorry. The sarcasm didn’t come across there. One of the many aspects of writing I have trouble with. Sarcasm, humor, plotting. You know. The normal stuff.

I’m whining, I know. It’s hard to be peppy and upbeat with this Chicago weather. It’s the end of June and in the low 60’s. It’s cold. And I’m not one of those to complain when it’s hot. Though I’m not a fan of humidity. But this climate change thing is real, I don’t care what anyone else says.

I’m a firm believer that caffeine and sunshine can fix anything. I have plenty of caffeine. I’m lacking in sunshine. That would help a lot.

Then there’s things like Amazon taking over the world. If you haven’t read the article yet, I’d highly recommend taking a look here. The article sums it up better than I can, but it comes down to Amazon taking more of everything and squeezing the publishers, who in turn will squeeze the writers, because, they aren’t going to do it to the readers so writers get screwed.

It makes me wonder if pursuing a traditional deal is worth it or if I should just go the indie route. Of course, that would mean dealing directly with Amazon (I think) and I’m not sure what to do about that. Of course, the traditional route means the same thing, so either way…

What a depressing post. I’m going in search of a sunlamp, and some sugar. That might help, too.

New Opportunity

It was lovely while it lasted, really. But, it looks like the steady paycheck is gone and I’m back to picking up gigs wherever I can find them. The job lasts a few more months, but we’ve already been warned the hours will be reduced.

Too bad. It was a great job. The kind where I could fit the job around my life and not the kind where I had to fit my life around the job. That’s a very rare kind of job.

On the up side, it will give me more time to write. I was good and didn’t pick up the remote (much) yesterday and managed to untangle a bunch of things plot wise. always an exciting day. I figured out I needed to raise the stakes for my MC more. The trouble was trying to make it believable and not cliched. I think I’ve almost got it figured out. Almost.

I hope this is an opportunity to stop dreaming and start doing. I know. Trite. Also, ripping off the Shonda Rhimes speech that’s making the rounds right now, but she makes a good point. I like to say “Don’t think so much. Just do.” Which may not always be right, but is usually good advice.

With the plot almost unwound, I’m off to the ending. I need to figure out how to stop the story. Or where it ends. Or whatever it does. An absolute weak spot with me. But, with all the free time I’m about to have, I’ll have all the time I need, I hope.