I’m reaching that point in my life where I’m trying to have a little faith in myself and my abilities. It’s been rough, if you’ve read this blog. And I’ve sure been trying awfully hard to turn my life around. It’s had its fits and starts, but lately I’ve been on something of an upswing.
Though I’ve been toiling hard at Phipp’s, my retail job, I’ve also had a one-day-a-week job in the arts. Arts advocacy, to be exact. The money I earn in one day is like two at Phipp’s, and it helps to pay for the lease on my new car (the old one died last summer, unexpectedly).
So the arts advocacy position looks as if it may turn into a full-time position WITH BENEFITS. As in HEALTH! It’s really something to be hopeful for. My position hangs on the approval of the board, who said as long as the funding for it can be maintained, then the position can be offered to me. I’d start in January.
Which is great, because my hours would be severely slashed at Phipp’s come then. All retail dies off after December until around the end of March. Everyone’s broke and/or cold, and sales plummet accordingly.
On top of that, I heard back from my agent on my novel. It seems I have an awful lot of work ahead of me. My first fifty pages need to be completely reworked. It seems my main character isn’t likable and doesn’t have enough to do. She’s not involved in the first chapter as she should be, and that first chapter has a lot of extraneous material. Some of it’s not even plausible. But the good news is my agent is willing to work with me AND wants me to take my time fixing it so I get it right and she can sell it.
This also is great, because it’s rare when you can find an agent (or, to say, take you on as a client) that will believe in you so much that they know you can do it, and your story will sell, but there’s a lot more work to be done to reach that goal. She said she hoped I wasn’t mad at her, but her criticism was spot on. It didn’t mean I couldn’t write; it meant my story needed to be developed further.
Today I went to Phipp’s. I had something of a very private freak-out as I opened the boxes of Christmas ornaments, decorations and candy. I thought about my book and my agent’s comments nonstop. How was I going to manage writing AND starting a new job? Will I get my laundry done? Will I ever be able to eat? See my friends? Have any fun? Be original? Live? Love? Laugh? Though my face smiled as I greeted customers and chatted with coworkers, my insides roiled with anxiety.
Any writer’s reaction to criticism somehow pings into said writer thinking that one’s talent is lacking and one is unworthy. And yeah, sure, I felt that. But my second reaction was a bit scarier- the sh*t got real. I have to work EVEN HARDER. I have to shake my brain and get that story whipped into shape. I’ve got something there, but now I have to actually prove that I can get it right.
I re-read the first chapter over for what seemed like the 100th time. Only now, I saw it through my agent’s comments. She’s right on about 99% of it (I still have one line of defense – literally, so to speak, on one point). And I do have a lot of extraneous material. My main character kind of fades into the background. I have bad descriptions of people. Lots needs to be tightened up.
Can I do it? I’d better. She hasn’t taken me on and gone over this book for me to chicken out and not fix it, which, I assure you, I felt like doing for a split minute. But I invested too much time in this book to simply abandon it. I’ll admit I’m a little afraid I won’t be up to the task. There will be plenty of second guessing. That’s no reason not to keep going. If I back out now, then I’ll truly be the loser. And I’ll hate myself forever.
And that arts advocacy job? I kinda freaked out about that, too. After four years of rejection (sort of like me pitching my book and it being rejected), I can’t imagine why someone would hire me. But apparently I’m good at what I do, and can only get better. My new boss, who’s a little less than half my age, loves me. No ageism here. She absolutely thinks it’s perfect that all she has to do is tell me what needs to be done, and I know how to do it. Training is at a minimum. We absolutely love our work with the community and bringing arts to our neck of the woods. So it’s an advantage for her because she has someone ready to go, and let’s face it, I’m more than ready to start.
As for leaving Phipp’s? That’s kind of scary, too. I’ll readily admit I’m a little more than embarrassed that I’ve had to go retail after so many years of nonprofit work. The pay’s awful and the hours worse. It’s like a security blanket, though. I get a discount, I’ve met some absolutely wonderful people, and my bosses have been great. It’s not me, though. I’m thinking of staying on one or two days, maybe a Sunday and an evening, just so I can keep my discount and stay in touch with the people I’ve come to know. My new salary isn’t going to allow me to retire, but it’ll keep my bills paid. Phipp’s will be sort of like what this arts advocacy position started out to be – a one or two day a week job that helps to smooth the rough edges.
Lastly, I have to share with you a blog entry called Hired by Ridiculouswoman. It’s funny, but it’s also true. It’s kind of how I feel now that my life is turning around.
Maybe good things do come to those who wait! I believe that’s called persistence.