Saturday, March 5, 2016

A New Series! (Maybe), Writerly Moping, Printer Hostage Incident

I’m a big fan of fictional story serials such as Limetown and The Message. I started a new writing project similar to those, and it’s gaining momentum in my imagination. I’m still a bit lost in the thickets as to the direction it’s headed in, but I’m thinking about posting it as a weekly series on this blog, like I did with “Bite Wing” a few years ago, before it got picked up by a publisher. I like the idea of posting material weekly to keep me motivated, and I think the structure of this project would lend itself well to a series format. And, after slogging through the demoralizing, rejection-laden experience of sending out query letters for my novel, I’m enamored with the idea of having control over the publication process, even if it’s just on a humble little blog with a modest number of subscribers. I haven’t made a decision yet on whether I’m going take the plunge, but I’m leaning towards it. The point of writing is to have your work read, and I don’t think I’m willing to wait around for someone else’s approval indefinitely before getting my work out anymore.

The problem with me, and probably with a lot of writers, is that we’re good at writing, but not so good at the things that go along with selling our work, like packaging and marketing and reaching our “target audience”. As someone with a stressful full-time job,   I feel like the act of creative writing sucks every spare ounce of energy out of me, and by the time I’ve actually written and edited something into a viable product, I’m too worn out mentally to work up the psychic energy required to sell it. And the idea of selling is deeply embarrassing to me. It’s not that I’m not proud of my work, or that I don’t believe in it—it’s just that is seems horrifically attention-grabby to me to go around telling people to buy my work. It’s like saying “I’m amazing! Purchase me! You’ll love me!” This lack of ability to separate myself from what I produce is the same emotional bugaboo that causes me to take rejection personally. Earlier this week, I got a speedy rejection from an agent who basically said “meh” about my work, which felt like they were saying “meh” about me personally, because my heart is in my novel. I know it was just business, but it felt like someone looking my very soul up and down and saying, “Eh, not for me.”

Enough of my mopey, writerly drama. Last week, I alluded to a treadmill fall. It was fairly traumatic—it turns out I was actually in shock on my way to the ER, and I have very little memory of the event. I just know that I was huffing away on the treadmill in the employee workout room when suddenly things got away from me and I fell and was bouncing around on the belt, which just kept going and going, and I couldn’t freaking get off of the stupid thing or make the belt stop, and something was wrong with my shoulder, and I couldn’t find my cell phone, and then another employee who was in the exercise room at the same time shut the belt off and called a code even though I told him not to. That was before I noticed a deep, bloody gash on my arm. There was instantaneous flurry of staff surrounding me, and the next thing I know I was plopped into a chair, draped with multiple blankets (throughout my ER stay, there were many blankets a-draped), and whisked off to the ER. Long story short, I’m fine—I had a torn shoulder and a bad abrasion on my arm, but I’m healing up well. The cut is taking a little while to mend because it was on the underside of my arm where the skin is more soft and tear-prone, but the X-rays showed that nothing was broken, and I will be A-okay. I’m trying to salvage the whole embarrassing experience by telling myself it’s valuable to see my hospital from a patient’s perspective.  

Speaking of maddening things that happen at work: My own printer held me for ransom this week. It was an outrageous act of hostage-taking. The stupid printer always tells me to buy a new (ultra-expensive) cartridge months before I actually need one, so I had been ignoring it’s dire warnings to replace the Cyan cartridge—and then, it just suddenly stopped printing. The black printer cartridge was full, and I was only printing in black ink, but no. The printer decided to go on strike until I replaced the Cyan cartridge. It just locked up and downright refused to do its job. I was furious. I tried every restart and fake-out imaginable, even pulling the current Cyan cartridge out and putting back in, thinking maybe that would “fool” it into submission—nothing doing. That printer was not going to budge until I capitulated to its demands. This was personal, folks. I had work to do and things to print, and my printer, who I trusted, decided to jack me for an overpriced cartridge way before I actually needed one. Bottom line: The printer won. I ordered its damn cartridge and shoved it into its greedy little printer tummy, and now we’re square. Or at least, in business together again. But the sacred bond between employee and printer has been broken, and our relationship will never be the same.  

Video warning: Violent and very sweary rap lyrics.

--Kristen McHenry

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