Writing, the career that cost nothing but some time and imagination.

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I have had many jobs in my short stint here in this lifetime.  I have been a waitress, barista, office manager, and dog sitter.  I have worked for the moms and pops and the corporate world.  I sold cosmetics for Estee Lauder in Macy’s and I sold handmade sheepskin slippers in a tiny shop during the holidays.  I’ve had jobs I could walk to from my apartment and jobs I had to walk a mile to the nearest commuter bus and then ride transit for hours just to get to the office.

Now I’m managing my own home, raising humans, and building my own writing career.  I’d have to say that this work is the best employment I’ve ever had.  I make my own hours…sort of, and I am the boss of all things!  Sort of.  Actually, the kids make my hours and seem to be running things at times.  Not even my old militant and controlling ways seem to sway them.  They are future activist preparing for a fight and police lines I’d say.

So, I’m really running things behind the scenes here but I do have control of one part of this drama.  My writing.  My spouse tries to give me input and is shut down immediately with a verbal warning.  When he starts telling me how to write I offer to come down to his job and help him out and that usually puts a cap on it.

I love starting projects.  I get really excited about new ideas, new diets, new lifestyle changes, new programs.  I buy all the gadgets and bobbles and plan and schedule.  I dream of all the wonderfulness of whatever new thing I’m trying, how it will change my life forever more.  On a bright Monday, I start said new life or job or class or diet.  By Friday I’m cursing it and finding a way out of the mess.

My husband likes to point out all the things I’ve started and not finished.  He also still brings up the microwave I got rid of when I read about all the radiation and how it kills the food.  “Perfectly good and new microwave.” He tells his sympathetic audience.  Then there is the wheelbarrow I forgot to have the movers pack up during our last big move.  He brings that up along with the microwave since both incidences happened within that same year.  Tough year for that man.

I started a daycare once when I knew my husband’s business was going under due to a crooked partner (no fault of my husbands, his boss was to blame just so we’re clear).  He brayed on about the money and fuss I put into building it.  I actually did it for cheap and it was an adorable daycare.  We made enough money to pay the rent and bills and feed us all for a few months when he no longer had work.  He should really learn to trust me.

Since then I have birthed two boys.  Well, actually I had c sections so would you say, I had my children surgically removed?  That doesn’t have a ring to it.  Anyway, I have been busy.  No more silly adventures into self-reform and building new kingdoms unless they are of the sandbox sort.

Then I started to write.  I always wrote but more journals about the day, my feelings, my random and boring thoughts on relationships.  When I was a child and before hormones kicked in I used to write and illustrate my own little booklets.  They say that if you wonder what you should be look back on your childhood and you will see that you were playing at your destiny long ago.

When I stopped drinking many, many moons ago I sat down and wrote a book within a matter of weeks.  It is now my Queen of Sober.  I never dreamt of publishing it.  I don’t think a publisher would even wipe their rear with it.  I don’t know why I wrote with such a fever.  I also wrote my whole life story.  That one I have deleted.  That was cathartic and that was all.  A sort of purge.  But a year and a half ago my family moved into town and into a tiny cottage with a large window in the kitchen area where I fit my table.  It faces the East and has two huge Sequoias standing guard outside.

Once I had all the furniture arranged and boxes unpacked, boys and dogs settled in…I sat down at that table and wrote up a book within a few weeks again.  This time I discovered self-publishing.  Unfortunately, it discovered me first in the form of Balboa Press.  It cost a pretty penny and they took longer to publish my book than it took to write.  They sucked and I moved on.  I had the itch though and wanted to publish my sober book and go on to write and publish more.  I was hooked.  My husband said to wait and see.  I knew this meant he didn’t want to spend any more money.  Being that I’m industrious I did some research on the web and found some chitty chat going on about amazon’s kdp program and other ways to self-publish for free.

What hooked me in was an author’s description of self-publishing with amazon.  She said it was, “crazy easy.”  Well, I like crazy easy stuff and so I went for it.  It was free and I got far more royalties than with that Balboa character.

Long story, very, very long story short, I have now published something like 16 books with them for free.  Free marketing, free promotion, free book covers, free author site.  The biggest expense was a cheap laptop for around $300.  Sure, I did the marketing and promotion that cost and other outside marketing that didn’t.  I find that it doesn’t really work.

What works is time and talent.  A good book, great cover (finally had to fork out cash on that) and time for your name to start making a buzzing sound on the internet.  There are millions and zillions of people out there now self-publishing and blogging.  I would not say that competition is fierce because most people don’t really have what it takes to make the long haul.  They just want instant money and fame and sisters and brothers, this is a long road to trudge and only those really wanting to meet the Wizard are going to make it all the way.  Only those that really love doing this will outlast the majority.

Writing is an isolated job.  It is hours of you and your new best friend the laptop.  I probably should have given mine a name by now but we are close.  The kitchen table is my office, the sunrise is the beginning of my clocking in, children and pets let me know when it’s time for my other shifts, and other bloggers are my new tribe.  I live in the world of reflection and ideas.  I write blogs in my head as I fold laundry and I dream up fictional stories as I climb the bars at the playground.  I watch movies, not for entertainment so much as for ideas, I read books to learn new ways of describing a situation or longing.  I am always in a state of analyzing, dreaming up, describing.

It is a wonderful world to enter if that is your thing.  I have been writing mostly homemaking, frugal, self-help booklets.  I have written some fiction to see if I could do it.  My first attempts were fine and feeble.  I have since removed those books for major editing and to apply new and nice covers and a pen name.  I am entering the world of fiction permanently now that I’ve exhausted the venue on how to clean with vinegar and save a dime on organics.  Who am I kidding these days, I’ve gone from housewifey to day tripper.  I want to live in the land of fantasy and create books that become movies.  I see them unfold just like a movie, that’s got to count for something.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the stomach to write such intense drama as, let’s say, Nicholas Sparks or Stephen King.  I have babies and so I like my mind to stay in a sort of Disneyish/Hallmark zone.  Brain aneurysms and lost children send me over the edge.  I was really proud of myself when I read a post-apocalyptic tale recently without getting too distraught and stocking up on water and dehydrated food.  My girlfriend reminded me to remind myself that it was “just fiction”.

So, all you writers of future hit novels and books made into movies…keep on keeping on as someone said.  It cost nothing to do this job and build this career.  It is no risk because if you really suck you can delete your files and the secret is all yours.  All you need is the love of the word and imagination, a cheap laptop, maybe a dictionary, a library card, and all the free self-publishing sites out there.  Amazon is one of many.  There is Smashwords but I found them NOT crazy easy and we had to break up.  Fastpencil is another and many others.

You can also promote and market for free on many sites and for pennies on others.  Starting a blog really helps as you can post and advertise on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr (still not sure what that is but I have it).  That only cost $8 bucks or so.  I have a website.  Don’t think it does much.  Facebook is free and you can create an author page.

The possibilities are grand and you can be the starving artist on the road to glory.  The road can be long so do have a day job and be penny wise.  I’ve been at it a few months past a year and this month I’ve made a hefty coffee fund.  Before I only made enough for bathroom tissue.  If there isn’t a huge urgency to “make it” and you can find your way to just enjoy the process, it is fun.  It grows and grows.

Don’t waste the time with classes on creative writing.  Read, read, read.  Read all kinds of genres and authors and you’ll learn styles and rhythms, new dialects and big words.  And write, think, imagine, watch movies, listen to music, drink coffee, go out and watch people.

Have fun.

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