Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a friend about silver linings. With the economy the way it is, book sales—along with almost all other sales—taking a beating, and lots of gloom and doom on the news, it’s easy to get depressed and start thinking that this is a crazy time to publish a book, or write a new manuscript, or look for a job, or whatever it is that you know you should be doing, but feel too down to even try. We both agreed that in retrospect, some of our best opportunities came as the silver lining on otherwise dark stormy clouds.
I guess the timing of the conversation was pretty appropriate, because today, about an hour after I came into work, my boss entered my office and closed the door. We chatted for a few minutes about how he wasn’t feeling too great, and stress of the economy, etc. Finally, he kind of sat back in his chair, and said, “I didn’t come here to talk about me.”
Ahhhh. Suddenly the dime dropped. This was that conversation. I have to admit, I was not expecting this at all. We’d just had layoffs, and the management assured us they were the only layoffs planned. Apparently this was not planned. (Hey, I know how that goes. In fact a couple of our best kids were . . .) Anyway, back to my point. He was coming in to tell me that I was being let go the end of this week.
I guess he was surprised that I wasn’t angry, or didn’t burst into tears or something, because after I told him I understood, he said, “Wow. You’re taking this a lot better than I am.” In fact I’m pretty sure he thought someone had given me advance notice. They hadn’t. And I admit, it took me a while to digest the information. But the thing is, what’s the point in getting upset? They have their business to run. I have my business to run. Hopefully the two are in sync. But sometimes they aren’t. And when they aren’t, one of us has to make a change. That’s what they were doing.
After letting my sales team know about the change, I took the rest of the afternoon off to get my thoughts together. I called my wife, and said, “Well, Honey, the good news is, I have a lot more time to write.” She picked up on that pretty quick.
Once we talked things out, we realized this might be one of those blessings in disguise. The good news is that over the last couple of months we’ve paid off both of our cars and all of our credit cards. Only a week ago, we finished refinancing our house. And we’ve got a little money in the bank, which hasn’t always been the case. And I get my first royalty on Farworld in January. So we aren’t going to starve any time soon.
But even more than that. I’ve really felt for the last few months like I needed to spend more time on my writing, and marketing my books. Yes the economy is tough, but as I wrote about a few weeks back, people are still buying books. They are being more picky, but they are still buying. I just need to make sure that it is my books they are buying. I also have several projects I need to finish up. Farworld Book Two of course. But also a regional mystery series I write, that I am far overdue on. I also have a couple of other projects I’m really excited about. One about a boy who gets turned into a zombie and another about a boy who is afraid of everything, who discovers he is a facilitator—a person who talks monsters out of their fears.
When I first got home, my stomach was still a little in knots. But the more my wonderful wife and I talked, the more we realized that we may have been pushed out the door a little sooner than we planned, but this is what we’ve both wanted to do. At least for the next few months, I will be a fulltime writer. I will be able to focus on nothing but writing and marketing. I can do what I love, and get paid for it. Will it last? I probably won’t know that until sometime around late January. At that point, if I have to go back to work for a while longer I will. But rather than stress, I plan on enjoying the next couple of months. If things work out, I am a fulltime writer as of this Saturday. But even if they don’t, I am still a fulltime writer as of this Saturday. I may just have to take a little break from being a full time writer, later in the year.
So here are just a few of the things I plan on enjoying during that time. Eight plus hours of writing, without feeling like I am neglecting my family, my job, or my yard. (Thank goodness for snow.) Speaking of snow; watching the snow fall without worrying about how bad it will be to drive to work in it. And for that matter driving an hour and back to work every day. Responding to e-mails and postings from my friends and readers the same day. Finishing writing two books and getting well into a third by Christmas. Being here when my boys come home from school. Enjoying my daughter’s plans for getting married in the spring. And finally, doing what I want to do. Not what someone else wants me to do.
I guess when my boss asked me why I didn’t look more upset when he told me I was being fired, I should have answered. “Monday, you’ll be driving to a job. Monday, I’ll be doing one of the things I love most in the world. Thanks!”
Thanks goodness for dark clouds, and the silver linings that come with them.