All Aboard the Hot Mess Express

If you follow me on Twitter or read the September projects post, then you’ll know that the day job is no more.

It didn’t work out for various reasons. To be honest, the whole deal was a hot mess from the beginning.

The same day I got the job I was diagnosed with anemia, which I didn’t tell anybody about because, hey, it was just continuing to function with the extreme fatigue I’d been dealing with for months while I waited for the iron pills to do their thing, no big deal. My second shift I was offered a promotion because the store had been operating with only three people and they desperately needed anyone with experience to step up. I took it because even though it wasn’t what I really wanted for a day job, I wanted to help out and the responsibility didn’t sound too bad.

I was given maybe a week of training and then given my own shifts, call us if you need us, which probably would have worked out better if they answered their phones more often. Anyway, after about a week of being on my own and getting the hang of things, the tiniest Wal-Mart in the world, the one in my town, announced it was closing. Oh goodie. Now the small, two-register store I worked at was inundated with their business and complaints. The computer system was too old to keep up with the increase so it crashed at least once a shift, sometimes just needing the pinpad for the card readers reset and sometimes needing the entire register rebooted.

We were also still operating understaffed and the people we did have were new. I’d been there less than a month and was considered a vet. I was training the new cashiers. So, we had all of this new business and under-trained employees. When we had employees at all. I ended up working several of my shifts alone because nobody showed up or somebody called in. I also got called in early or on my days off pretty regularly.

There was also an increase in freight. Quite simply we were drowning in it. We couldn’t keep up with it because we didn’t have enough people to put it up and/or were too busy to put it up because of all the customers.

Meanwhile, I’m barely writing because I’m wiped out. The whole point of the day job was to supply me with a steady income because I wasn’t making enough by writing alone. This was supposed to take some pressure off of me. Instead, I was stressed and my anxiety was so bad I was having trouble sleeping.

There was a stretch when things were improving. First of all, my anemia got better so I wasn’t totally exhausted all of the time. We started getting two trucks a week, which made the freight easier to handle. The people we hired were getting better and showing up and sticking around. Business slowed some after the Wal-Mart finally closed in July because people stopped panicking about having to go out of town to get toilet paper. Someone that had hired in at the same time I did finally decided to become a key like me.

But then I found out that I was going to be training. From her. The night I was supposed to start training her. And I was given less than a week to do it. She called me on her first solo shifts because she couldn’t get a hold of either of the managers. One day included four phone calls, one text message, and two trips to the store to help her out.

And finally, we got a new district manager who wanted pretty much everyone, including yours truly, fired because we weren’t doing our jobs well enough.

That was all she wrote for me. I called it quits.

The thing is that I didn’t feel at all relieved about quitting. I felt like (and still feel like) a failure. If I had been better, I would have been able to make it work. I would have been able to handle that job and write. I wouldn’t have been tired and stressed and anxious all of the time. I let everyone down because I couldn’t hack it. I couldn’t do what everyone else does: go to work, do their job, go home and function there. I couldn’t fucking do it.

I expressed these sentiments on Twitter after I turned in my keys and made it official and everyone was very kind (because I follow some awesome folks there) and assured me that I wasn’t a failure, but if that were true…I wouldn’t have quit, would I?

Yeah.

Since my last day, I’ve been struggling to right my emotional ship as well as everything else. I finally got my sleep schedule adjusted closer to where I’d like it to be and I’m actually sleeping most of the night instead of fighting sleep for hours because I keep dreaming I’m at work and not really sleeping until dawn. I’m working on getting off the retail diet, too. And, of course, my writing is happening more like normal again. Yet, I’m still frustrated that I’m not doing all of this faster and better.

Because the feeling of failure lingers.

I can’t quit it. It won’t take my notice.

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And Then Patreon Went and Changed Its Fee Business

Edit: Patreon changed its mind about implementing the fee changes. You can read about it here.

Okay, so Patreon has decided to change the way they charge fees. Until now, creators covered all of the fees that way when patrons were pledging a certain amount that was the true amount they were paying. Now, Patreon is moving some of the fees onto the patron. Creators will still get charged 5% and patrons will now get charged 2.9% + $0.35. You can read the full details here.

Patreon says that they did this to put more money into the creator’s pocket and to provide a more stable income because the fees we paid could vary month to month. Which sounds really nice.

But it’s really kind of not, when you think about it.

First of all, someone on Twitter pointed out that by charging both the creator and the patron, this makes Patreon more money. This is the reasoning I’m more likely to believe.

Second of all, creators are losing patrons left and right because of the fee change. They don’t want to pay the fees. And Patreon doesn’t suffer for that (they make plenty); the creators do.

I cherish all of the patrons that I have, but it’s no secret that I don’t have very many. I’m always actively trying to acquire more patrons as well as keep the ones that I have. This fee change does nothing to help me. It’s an asterisk on my selling point and it puts my current patrons in a bad position that makes them question if the fees are worth it to support me.

And all of this after I have everything ready to go for the next season of Muderville.

I’m now working on alternate methods of support. I have Ko-Fi and paypal.me. The fees associated with those are paid by me and me alone, so whoever buys me a cup of coffee or sends me money pays no fees. If I have patrons or potential patrons that would prefer this method, then I’m sure I can set up something here on the blog so people can still read Murderville, but support me through different means.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep plugging away and hope for the best.

Writing Without a Day Job: The Adventure Begins

coinsChild learnin’ has come to an end for me.

This was not entirely unexpected (no need to go into details), though the timing was sooner than I anticipated.

What matters is that I am without a day job of some kind for the first time in six years.  I view this as both a blessing and a challenge. The challenge, obviously, is to pay my bills while also finding a new day job to help supplement my income, especially since I still haven’t replaced the floorset side hustle yet.

The blessing, though, comes in the form of opportunity. When I lost my floorset job, I chose to see it as a push from the Universe to really focus and promote my writing career. I’ve taken tentative steps in doing that. It’s still not something I’m entirely comfortable with. Without any day job, I have the opportunity to really push myself, to make writing my sole focus day job, at least for a little while.

I already had some projects in the works that were in this spirit. They’re going to have priority in the next couple of weeks, that’s for sure. Selling my books, getting patrons for Murderville, making the Storytime Jukebox better, all of that is going to be key. It’s the side of the business that I admit to not working hard enough on because I don’t want to be annoying. I don’t want to be a walking commercial, a constant promotion that ends up being tuned out. But considering how very little I do of it right now, I think a moderate increase wouldn’t be too over the top.

Also, I can no longer use the excuse of not having the time/energy to promote myself. Got plenty of it in the immediate future! No reason not to use some of that free time/free energy to cultivate and utilize some new promotional skills.

The point is that as optimistic as I am, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to survive without a steady day job of some kind. Most writers can’t. However, while I am looking for that new day job, I can take the time to elevate my writing career to a new level. That’s something long overdue.

So, here’s to the next adventure.

Endings are new beginnings and all that.

An Unexpected Push

ThinkingMy floorset days have come to an end.

The store I work for is closing for good on January 7th.

I’ve been there over four years. Sometimes the gig was a real hassle. I questioned whether or not it was worth the commute, the minimum wage, the sleep deprivation, the bullshit that accompanies every retail job. I seriously considered quitting multiple times, but never went through with it. In the end, the actual work and most of the people I worked with won me over. The money wasn’t great (child learnin’ has been my main source of income), but it really helped fill in the gaps between the ends I needed to meet, particularly during the Christmas/New Year holidays when it’s the only day job I worked.

Now I need something else to fill the gaps.

I’m feeling strangely optimistic about this. A few years ago, I would have been depressed and panicky, woe-is-me-ly about this whole thing. I would have felt like it was the Universe taking another shot at me, kicking me when I was already close to down. Not so much now.

Now, I feel like this is the Universe giving me a push.

This is a push to do something new. This is a push to get out of my comfort zone. This is a push for a new adventure.

This is a push to really work my writing and make my writing work for me.

I don’t make a lot of money from my writing, but now what money I do make will be very important. It will help fill the gaps. Self-promotion is going to be key. I’m going to have to talk about my writing A LOT MORE than I already do and not in the “here’s what I’m working on, here’s how I write, here’s my writerly thoughts” fashion. I’m talking in the “HEY, BUY MY WORDS” fashion.

Right now I’ve got three writing revenue streams going at the moment: my self-published titles, the Storytime Jukebox, and the upcoming Patreon project Murderville. I realize that I’m going to have to start submitting in earnest once again, but I’m also going to have to push these three things a lot harder than I have in the past. In the past, I didn’t want to be annoying or insistent. Now I’m going to be.

When I first found out about this turn of events yesterday and posted about it on Twitter, the people I know there were very supportive. I think that contributes to my optimism. I am blessed with knowing some really awesome folks who are really supportive of my endeavors and also really supportive of me in general. I really do appreciate them.

So, the new year will be starting off with an interesting challenge.

For once in my life, I feel up to it.

Decide the Fate of the Ivy Russell Novellas

Ivy novellas

I’m struggling with indecision so I decided the best thing to do is to take my dilemma out of my brains and leave it to someone else’s, namely yours.

Here’s the situation: the covers for the last three Ivy Russell novellas are still not done. I don’t know when (or if) they’ll be done. The disruption in my planned publishing schedule has been a drag, but it has also caused me to question repeatedly the best course of action to handling this change of plans. Every choice you see in the poll below are choices that I’ve seriously considered (and reconsidered and then considered again).

So, I put it to you, gentlefolk. What the hell should I do?

The poll will be open for a week.

Why The Timeless Man Got Postponed and Other Life Lessons

Cheaters and ChupacabrasI was supposed to self-publish The Timeless Man last month and the reason why I didn’t publish it is because it didn’t have a cover.

It’s like this.

A friend did the cover for the first Ivy Russell novella, Cheaters and Chupacabras. I decided that I wanted the other three novellas to use the same background, but a different symbol for each novella (for Cheaters it was the wedding rings). I asked this friend if they could do the symbols for the other three novellas earlier this year and they agreed.

But between illness and humidity (because that affects art when you’re working with water colors, kids) and communication issues, it’s now July and the cover still isn’t done. I’m not sure when it’s going to get done or what I’m going to do when it gets done since this has sort of jacked up my entire self-publishing timeline, not to mention it’s not just this cover that needs to not be plagued by humidity, but the next two as well and I don’t feel like it would be a good idea for me to try to publish anything until I have every cover done. And so, we limbo.

The last time I inquired about the covers, which was Tuesday night, in the course of our conversation, my friend said to me, “I thought you got mad and just did it yourself anyway.”

See, that’s the life lesson I’ve taken away from every interaction I’ve had like this and there have been a lot in my existence. People I work with or ask for help from or ask favors of don’t come through for me often, so I just end up doing it myself, if I’m able to do it at all. It’s now such a common occurrence that people just expect it to end this way.

And it’s all my fault.

When you come out of the birth canal (or in my case, c-section incision) as a preordained responsible, independent human, then that’s your label for life. People go to you for help and you help them because you can and that’s what the world tells responsible, independent humans to do.

But when the script gets flipped and the responsible, independent human needs help, nobody knows their lines anymore. They don’t know how to react. Because the responsible, independent humans have a tendency to attract and surround themselves with somewhat flaky, dependent humans that just aren’t up to the task of helping. They want to, but they just can’t. Because reasons. Or they will, but it’s on their timeline, which is completely out-of-sync with your timeline, and that’s just too damn bad because you should just be grateful that they’re helping you at all.

So, I don’t ask for favors very often because I know the likelihood of being blown off or disappointed is pretty high and when I do ask for a favor hoping that maybe this time will be that one time things are different and they end up being the same, yeah, I tend to stop asking and keep on slogging through life on my own, doing everything the hard way because it’s been made pretty obvious that I’m a responsible, independent human and therefore shouldn’t not require much in the way of help. So, yeah, I either get pissed and do it myself, or I find myself in limbo, at the mercy of someone else’s timeline.

Which sucks.

‘Cause it makes my books late.

 

Disclaimer: I love my friends, I really do! Even though some of them aren’t the greatest at helping me out when I need it, they still have other qualities that are absolutely marvelous. All of my friends have their faults, as do I (and I have more than most), but they’re all really good people.

I wouldn’t be friends with them if they weren’t.

Give me some credit here.

Writing–March Projects

green flowerYou may have noticed the lack of blog posts in the month of February. Or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you didn’t care. Whatever the case, the point is that you can expect random and fewer blog posts to be the norm for a while. My world is in a bit of transition at the moment, sort of like when I had the existential crisis last year, except it’s less crisis, more change.

Anyway, that doesn’t mean that I’m not doing writer stuff. My goal to clear out my backlog of projects remains intact.

Last month I finished making notes on (Vampries) Made in America and it has all been put to the side for the moment. I’m sick of looking at it. I also finished revisions on Odd Section of Town and Firebugs and Other Insects. I’m satisfied with how they turned out for the most part and I think the next step for them is beta and minor tweaks/polish. I also wrote “A Ride in the Country”, which was actually less writing and more taking a chunk that didn’t make it into Night of the Nothing Man and revising it into it’s own little stand alone bit that will go into one of the anthologies.

Speaking of…

This month, I’m going to be working revising short stories that I’m going to use for future anthologies. I’ve already finished a revision on “Nadie Has a Dog” just a few days into the new month (productivity, what?). Also going to be revised this month “People Are Terrible”, “Cover Up” (a rough draft that I found that I think will go nicely in one of the anthologies), “The House Down the Road”, and “The Seaweed Man”. Of these four, it’s “The Seaweed Man” that’s going to take the most work. It’s going to be more of a rewrite than a revision.

Slowly, but slowly, the backlog decreases.