We’ve gotten away from it all to end the year, and we’ve brought the dog.
Birdie came to us in April from — as we were told — a foster rescue situation with an elderly couple in Tennessee. The couple, who reportedly live in a rural area, were ailing and could no longer take care of their six fosters. We got Birdie, and while I haven’t met the others we certainly must have gotten the best of the bunch.
Yet some part of me has felt guilty about taking her away — even by necessity — from her original owners, her first home, her packmates and the great outdoors. She spends a lot of time indoors now, since we live in an apartment in Brooklyn, and only gets to experience the wide open spaces of the world if we bring her with us out of town. So, we’re here in upstate New York and she’s having a ball (despite not being terribly fond of the snow). To her, the wide windows of the main room of this cabin are like TV: She runs from window to window scampering after the squirrels and other wildlife she cannot catch.
Without meaning to be twee, 2015 has felt a little like that for me: Staring out windows, scampering after things I cannot catch. It’s been a frustrating — though I understand, necessary — year and more trying to carve out my own new place in the world, looking for a way to get my fiction noticed and hopefully appreciated widely. (I’m lucky in that I have some very dear people who have appreciated it locally.) But the consistent pursuit of professionals who might have a financial interest in sharing that fiction with the world has been psychically draining and not a little off-putting.
What I tell myself is this: That I didn’t manage to scoop up a living wage in freelance entertainment writing in a day. I’ve been doing that since high school, getting paid for it since college, and I got lucky in that in the decades since it now pays my bills. Trying to find a space where I can make even a small fraction of money out of my fiction is not going to happen overnight. (Though, man, let’s hope it doesn’t take as long as the freelance did.) And the fact is, it isn’t about the money. As my husband points out, this is a bit like waking up one day and saying you want to make a living in a rock band.
No, money is not the object (though it is nice if it happens). Money equals time in this case: I need time to settle into a regular fiction writing routine, not this herky-jerky motion (sorry, Paul Simon) I’ve cobbled together that lets me occasionally sit down and get to business. Mornings aren’t good; I work super early. After that four-hour session, it’s time to walk the dog and get lunch and regather and regroup … so I can finish up whatever other freelance assignments are pending. Then husband is home, then it’s dinner and then shit, I’m tired! No wonder I get cranky: I’m jealous of the time I need just to get to the writing I’m aching to do.
So, while the squirrel chasing has to continue in 2016, my hope is this: Less window-scampering. A blog post most every day to warm the fingers up and get the mind focused, then a dive into the story, whatever story. I have a recent piece of short fiction, by the way, inspired by Birdie. It’s just beginning to see the light of day — I sent it off somewhere to see if it lands, and if/when it doesn’t, I’ll try again. So the writing has continued. I just want to give it more light, more space, more sun.
Find a way to move like God’s immaculate machine (again, apologia to Paul).