January 31st, 2012

blue box

Layoff Day!

Today marks a momentous anniversary. Ten years ago today I got laid off from my last "real" job at a PR agency. I had a lot of money in savings and I had some freelance opportunities, so I took the plunge and instead of trying to find another job, I decided to try to make it on my own and really focus on my writing. And I haven't had a "real job" since then. I've worked for myself for longer than I worked at any other job. It hasn't always been easy. I've mostly been able to make it because I had all that money in savings. In my best years, I've come close to earning what I did in my PR job. In my worst years, I've been below the poverty level and living off my savings (and think of that before you illegally download a book -- most authors are in the same boat I'm in). But I've been far, far happier even without money than I ever was in a regular job with a steady paycheck. I guess I don't play well with others because going to an office and dealing with people all day is so draining to me that I don't get much writing done and I can't sustain much of a social life. Staying at home and focusing on writing all day means I can have a life outside work without going insane.

I celebrated by going to the dentist. Whee! Actually, I happened to have a cleaning scheduled for today. Then I stopped by the church to pick up the music for Sunday, since I got an e-mail this morning letting me know I have a solo in the piece and I thought practicing it before choir practice might be a good idea, and then I got groceries.

This afternoon, I have a good adolescent wallow scheduled. I re-read I Capture the Castle yesterday because there are a lot of parallels between that narrator and my heroine, even though the stories are entirely different, and I think that book does such a beautiful job of capturing that coming-of-age emotion. It's probably a good thing that I didn't discover it when I was a teenager or I'd have become obsessed and filled scores of notebooks with pretentious journal entries about my life, trying to imitate what was in the book. I also re-watched the movie last night, and while I normally like the movie and book equally, it really doesn't work to watch the movie too soon after reading the book. If it's been a year since I read the book and it's not too fresh, the movie seems like the perfect adaptation. If the book is too fresh in my mind, the movie bothers me because while it gets a lot right, it gets the wrong things wrong, and the book is so vivid that I'm not sure if what I'm remembering seeing in my head is from the book or the movie, so I'm disappointed when a scene I know I've seen isn't actually in the film.

Being locked in a castle dungeon would probably do wonders for my productivity. For now, I have to settle for being locked in my office or on the "library" loft outside my office.

Anyway, I think I've found the parallels from my own teen experiences to some of the things my heroine experiences, and now I'm going to dig out my college acting textbook to re-read the chapters on applying your experiences to a character because it works just as well in writing. It's funny that the college textbook I've most often referred to after college and the course that I probably use the most was the "acting for non drama majors" (aka Jock Drama) course I took pass/fail my senior year because I had almost all the credits I needed to graduate but needed one more class to maintain "full time" status and keep my scholarships, but I was interning and needed a light course load. I was one of three people in the class who wasn't a varsity athlete. But that made it very low-pressure for performing because no matter what I did, I'd be miles ahead of most of my classmates. Strangely, every character I played in the scenes we had to act out was the flighty, scatterbrained, slightly slutty type. That meant I really had to stretch out of my comfort zone. Fortunately, it was spring semester, so I didn't have to worry about traumatizing the football team (I did that enough in the fall when they were trying to date my roommate).

Maybe tomorrow will be the "celebration" day, since it will mark the tenth anniversary of the start of my self-employment. I may go to the library and get something decadent at the coffee shop next door.