As mentioned in my last post, my father died in September. It kicked off a cascade of events that drained me of time, money, and energy.
Since then, I’ve seen some more major events happen. Hurricane Sandy was one. It devastated large areas of my youthful stomping grounds on the Jersey Shore and swept away some things that were integral to my childhood. At first ten were reported dead, then double that, then double again, and double again until the news reports were like a backgammon match from Hell. It’s still causing trouble today, in exactly the same way that Hurricane Katrina did, and it will likely continue to be presenting problems months from now, just like its famous predecessor. Currently, my family and friends have suffered, cumulatively, a pair of downed trees and one flooded first floor of a house. I hope that continues to be the damage total, but I can’t help but empathize for those who are seeing much worse.
We also had a Presidential election in the US, one which was the most expensive and was among the most contentious. Somehow, among the industrialists supporting one side and the entertainment industry supporting the other, with various rich sports stars going this way and that on support, stories of simple human misery have gotten lost amidst the shouting. Reported unemployment is high, and those who have stopped looking for work aren’t even reported in those high numbers. More than 6000 jobs were terminated in the last week alone due to concerns about companies’ economic futures. At my own “day” job, layoffs continue due to lowered purchasing associative with the continued slump. We’re all hoping for things to get better, with everyone reading the tea leaves in different ways, but for the moment most people are just happy to get by.
In other news, Tom Pic had a huge tumor and required brain surgery and chemo.
So, what did I do today? Why am I squeezing in a post at the end of the day, and what does this have to do with books?
I listed some titles this evening on my Ebay store, including a hardcover limited edition of Robert E. Howard, Night Images, illustrated by Frank Frazetta and Richard Corben. Also, I worked with my wife, who is setting up to do a food cart for the lines on Black Friday, to hash out preparatory details.
Yes, I had a rough month, and yes, I’m worried about my future employment. But the best thing I can do is to continue to plug away at the things I can affect: my bookstore and helping my family. A decade ago, if I had 300 items listed, I’d do about $500 in sales per week. Now I need about 600 items to make the same level of sales. But the sales are still coming in, and I’m still able to find great items to move to people, and while it may require more time I’m still able to do something I enjoy.
Life is hard. It’s always going to be. And it doesn’t stop just because we do. If you’re seeing a good time, be appreciative and don’t focus on the negative (and consider donating to Pic’s medical fund.) If you’re in a slump, remember that people have it worse than you. Don’t beat yourself up about that… pain is pain, and just because someone else may have it worse doesn’t render your own discomfort any less valid… but also don’t let it eat you alive. Whatever you do, if you want to be a writer, keep writing. Keep submitting. Because when some markets dry up – and they will – other markets will open, and honing your craft is the only way you’re ever going to have even a chance of hitting that metaphorical lottery ticket that is literary success.