Consider myself kicked

I've been thinking all day how I could possibly sum up the rollercoaster ride of the past ten days, and I simply don't have the words. Which is a little troubling for a writer.

Ten months ago, I was seriously considering quitting this whole writing thing. A project I'd been wrestling with for an ungodly long time was hanging me up, preventing me from moving on to other things. Sales were tanking, much of my published work was staggering toward going out of print, and worst of all, nobody seemed to notice that I hadn't put out much in the way of new work for a year or so.

If nobody reads what a writer puts down on paper, is she just talking to herself? They have doctors for that sort of thing.

Ten weeks ago, or thereabouts, I found out that I was going to be furloughed from my Daye Jobbe. Temporarily, but the loss of a week's salary was still daunting. Now, I love my job. I am truly blessed in that I have a job that I love, that I can do well, that makes a difference in the world, and if it doesn't pay all that well... well, I'm a simple woman. My needs are few. Give me caffeine and I'm good.

So a furlough... that's bad. That's a week of being useless, a week of eating Pringles on the couch and trying to figure out how I could possibly pay the rent with 75 percent of my salary. Sure, I could try to build up a week's salary in savings. But as the anemic wedding fund could testify, were it conscious: we ain't that great at saving. There's always a minor car repair, or a broken pair of glasses (Boy!!!), or a computer that goes down for the count.

Ten days ago, I launched my attempt to cope with the furlough, doing the only thing I know how to do that doesn't involve a reporter's notebook: sell books.

Okay, the only lucrative and legal thing I know how to do. Hush, you.

Write a novella and give it to the backers. Hit the road on their cash and stop as many places as I can from here to New York and back. Wait, I've already met that amount? How about Boston? How about Florida? How about New Orleans? California? Seattle?

Wow. That's the only word I can come up with for setting a goal of $750 and hitting $3,240. (Or, actually, an estimated $2,900 after Kickstarter and Amazon take their cut. We'll get the final total in two days.)

Jimmy says it proves that I'm popular. That would be a big surprise to the bespectacled nerd-girl of Westfield Middle School, but she's been surprised for a long time to find that her fever-dreams on paper are read by teeming hundreds of people.

And people were watching. A photographer I know remarked on the staggering success of the Kickstarter. It gave him hope, he said, that his long-time wish to travel to national parks, gather nature photography and publish a calendar might not be crazy. Of course it isn't, I told him. It helps to have an established fan base, yes... but it's also the way to build a fan base. Can't gain fans unless you have the work to give.

Which is good advice for me, too. The success of the Kickstarter doesn't just mean that I get to drive across the country two weeks from now, or that I get to meet so many readers who've supported me all these years. It doesn't just mean that I get to go on a series of bungee trips, too.

It also kicked me square in the Whinypants. It told me that even if I'm not deluged in letters begging me for the next book, people really like my stuff. They want to see more. They're even willing to donate money to support my fiction habit, to send me on the road with boxes of books in my trunk.

I think every writer has these moments of doubt, these secret (or not-so-secret) insecurities that we're all just fooling ourselves, we're not real writers, and we've been making an ass of ourselves all these years. Every writer I know has, at least. But then someone or something kicks us in the Whinypants, and we get back to work.

Consider myself kicked. There's this novella I have to finish, after all...


  1. I missed the end of the Kickstarter...

    And I would have given at least a little something but right now, with me unemployed again, money is kinda tight...

  2. Your short fiction especially is excellent, Elizabeth. Keep at it! :)
    From one broke writer to another, may the words flow and if it pays, even better!


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