It's been quiet on the blog this week partly because I'm doing class prep (Rutgers continuing ed memoir/creative nonfiction starts in a few days).
But it's also because, when I was talking to someone last weekend about being a writer, and I mentioned this blog, and also an essay published in a literary journal, here's what I heard: "And how much does that pay?"
Let's put aside for the moment the lack of civility and presumptuousness in such a comment: as if anyone (except perhaps my husband) has a right to those details.
Mind you, invariably this kind of remark is made by someone with a far greater and much more secure income than mine, someone with childcare and an established career who hasn't taken 3 personal or sick days in two years, someone who hasn't ever worked in any kind of freelance capacity, someone who hasn't the slightest interest in any kind of artistic expression, someone, in other words, like the person who said it to me last weekend while we were having what I thought was a pleasant comrade-in-arms conversation about how the recession is affecting our ability to not wince and heave each month when making out the checks for – well, everything.
When this sort of thing happens, I spend a week or so having a conversation with myself that goes something like this:
Me (only meaner): No time for non-income-producing work this week. Nose to the grindstone.
Me: But I do have paying work. Teaching. Editing. Writing. There are checks coming in every month, you know.
Meaner me: Not enough, missy. Not enough.
Me: Okay, but maybe just a blog post or two.
Meaner me: Nope. No money to be made there. Get more confirmed writing assignments. Find new editing clients. Propose a new course. Ask for more work from current clients. Sign up more students. Say yes to the person who wants to hire you to edit that unpunctuated handwritten-in-pencil, "nonfiction flash fantasy novel in linked humorous poetical essays."
Me: What are you talking about? There's no such person.
Meaner me: Well, you know what I mean. Chop chop.
Me: Okay, but I am going to proofread my 200-page manuscript for that contest…
Meaner me: Forget it. Paying work only, girl. All day, every day.
Me: Right. I'm on it.
And I am on it. For about three and a half days. Then, like an emotional eater who sneaks cookies when everyone is in bed (yep, that's me too, but that's another story), I'm at the computer at midnight writing a blog post. Or reading entries in a contest I've volunteered to judge. None of which "pays." There is, however, a pay off.
And so, I'm back.