Bits and Barbs

A weasel moved into our rock wall. For most people, this would not be good news, as they are invasive little predators.  But seeing as how we already have coyote, bobcats, foxes, hawks, and fisher cats hanging around our neighborhood, the Captain and I figure one more predator won’t tip the scale.  (Needless to say, there are no outdoor pets in this neighborhood.)  I’ve only seen the little guy (or gal) twice, but I’m sure as the summer goes on, I’ll be seeing more of him.  He’s pretty adorable for a killer.

On the downside, I think the new resident has chased our woodchuck (who lives in a different section of the wall) across the street.  This would be a sad thing since we’ve had descendants of the same woodchuck family living in our backyard for twenty years. Of course, she could be simply in her burrow having woodchuck babies. We’ll know in a couple weeks.

Such is life in the wilds of the suburbs these days. 

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It’s been six weeks since I said goodbye to Facebook. Since then, I’ve been back once, to listen to a Live session of Step Into The Story with Renee Ryan, Julia Kelly, and others, which was great fun. Otherwise, I don’t miss the platform a bit. Instagram is looking like my new home. (Remember, you can follow me at @barbwallacewriter.)

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Me Being In-Crowdy

I am still working on my historical fiction novel, The In Crowd. When I first started the book, I thought, seeing as how I’d written 26 books, that I would be able to produce a first draft in 6 months. Eight months later, I’m still drafting. 

At first, I was frustrated, but then someone reminded me that, experienced writer or not, I am writing in a new genre, one that is completely different from anything I’ve ever written before. 

Writing in a new genre is a little like tackling a mountain without all the right equipment. You have a basic map but it’s not as detailed as it should be. As a result, ten miles into the journey, you discover you’re on the wrong trail, and need to return to base camp. The next day you embark on attempt #2 only to discover you’ve forgotten something important like rope, and so, once again you turn around. Around attempt #5, you finally find yourself on the right path. 

After months of fits and restarts, it appears I’m finally moving forward.  

My historical fiction isn’t the only project on my calendar.  Fans of the Sadie McIntyre Mysteries will be glad to hear that I hope to begin the next installment in August or September.  The tentative title is First Dates Can Be Fatal.  

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I bought new glasses the other day.  Special snowflake that I am, I needed two separate lens prescriptions. As a result, my new eyewear cost a fortune. My first thought was “Pete is going to kill me.”  

Not only didn’t he kill me, but he also didn’t care. Eyeglasses are a necessity. If you have funky eyes, you end up with expensive glasses.  

But that’s not the point of this story. My point is that I knew Pete wouldn’t care, and yet I still worried about having spent the money.  Why? Because he is the family breadwinner. To be fair, he’s always been the bigger earner, but I at least a portion of our income. Not at the moment, though.

I’ve always known that our social power structure revolves around money. What I wasn’t prepared for what how that same power structure would trickle down to my own home – and that I –not my husband — would be the one to internalize it. But that afternoon, in the car, I realized I had.

It is very easy to conflate self-worth with net worth, especially in a society that places income above all else. Even in an industry like the arts, it’s all about the paycheck.  Google the phrase “Writing and no income” and you’ll discover tons of websites aimed at helping you recoup financial losses, but not one that talks about how to keep your head up and feel good about your work when you don’t have an audience. 

In my case I’m both blessed and cursed because I can stay home and write regardless of whether my book sells. I say blessed because I realize most writers don’t have the luxury of staying home like I do.  I say cursed because I also feel a bit like a dilettante – particularly on days when the writing goes slowly. (Because the other measure of self-worth we often impose on ourselves is productivity, e.g. –  I wrote 3000 words and cleaned the house today, therefore I am a good and productive person. I have thoughts on this as well.)

This feeling of being a dilettante leads me to overcompensate in other areas, such as housework. On days when the writing isn’t going well, it’s very easy to stop and move onto other tasks, like laundry or groceries, tasks that can be competed and allow me to justify my existence.  

Getting back to the whole income means self-worth discussion.  The issue is a complicated one.  One that I would love to discuss with everyone.  What my eyeglass freak-out taught me, however, was that for some reason, I’ve started seeing my current situation as permanent.  It is not. I haven’t been fired from the writing industry. I’ve simply hit pause while I work on something new.  Eventually I will be making money again.  Who knows? If The In Crowd lives up to the concept’s potential, I’ll be the main breadwinner.

How about you? Do you feel there’s a power inequity in your house because one person makes more than the other? How to you remind yourself that you have value beyond a paycheck? What advice would you give others in the same shoes?

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