Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Opening gambit


The story seems to begin with catastrophe but in fact began earlier and is not a tragedy but rather a love story. Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss. Loss in not felt in the absence of love. "The queen died and then the king died" is a plot, wrote E.M. Forster in The Art of the Novel, but "The queen died and then the king died in grief" is a story.

This lovely passage opens The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander.

The book is simply gorgeous.

*

I'm having one of those days when I wonder if I should be doing something completely different with my life. People don't really want to pay what deep developmental editing costs; some of them simply can't unless they already have a book deal, so although I get nibbles all the time from people who want to hire me, when we get to the point of talking money, it's often "Oh, that's more than I was thinking." I had such an exchange today. The agent seemed to think my estimate was reasonable, but the writer, who is on round three of revising a potentially wonderful book that her agent believes in but hasn't been able to sell, thought it was out of reach. For every ten money conversations I have, it seems only one or two results in us moving forward and doing work together.

It's disheartening.

It's life.

It's up to me how I look at it, though.

My cousin Helen, who is a spiritual success coach (and I say that with absolutely no irony), told me that when I start thinking, I know I'm worth this and the people who won't flinch at paying me what I'm worth are out there, looking for me, then people will step up to the plate. Until then, she says, they'll read my energy, the belief circling in the air around me that says, I know you won't pay me this, because, you know, in your shoes, I might not want to pay that either. Helen insists it's not a matter of what people can afford, but a matter of what they choose to invest in. I know very clearly that I'm good at what I do. That's not conceit talking, just experience and a love of the work. But I don't seem to trust people to know what it takes to do what I do, and why it costs what it does. Yet, I have to make a living. I need to be realistic about that. Helen says I have a scarcity mindset, and I need to adopt an abundance mindset. But maybe I have a little touch of it, because so far, we've done okay. I mean, we just paid my daughter's last college tuition bill. We did that, for her and our boy. We saw that through. And here's the crazy magical thing: I never for one moment doubted that we would.

*

My anxiety, though, is not about being okay today. It's about whether I will still be okay six months from now. Today, I want to run away, not deal.

*

Okay, back to work, because at this moment, I still have work, quite a bit of it, in fact. But there's nothing sure in the pipeline for when these two projects are done, even though there are a few more money conversations waiting to be had. I kind of wish someone would call me up and say, I'd like to hire you and I'll pay you X, and then I'd say, Done, because X was more than fair.

It's happened before.

Okay, universe, more of that please.



16 comments:

  1. My dear, you are worth every penny you ask for and more! Helen is correct, you must feel worthy of it yourself. With that said you may get nibbles, and true some people can't afford it, but some can and will use your services. If you worked for a publishing company, you wouldn't feel "bad" telling a customer what the Companies fees would be, and you would get a small percentage or an hourly wage after doing all the work, correct? keep up the great work, enjoy working for yourself, and don't worry about those who can't afford your services.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, look at it this way- Mr. Moon probably only does one deal from start to finish in far more than ten phone calls from people interested in his services. That's business and although I really don't know much about business, I do know this- hardly anyone wants to pay what things are really worth. They want a "deal." BUT, that when you offer quality in either your product or your service (or both), some people will realize that this IS the deal.
    And yes, darling, you offer quality. Which the wise ones will gladly pay for.

    ReplyDelete

  3. I'm having one of those days when I wonder if I should be doing something completely different with my life
    On these kind of days best to do nothing but rest

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, that is absolutely stellar advice!

      Delete
  4. Ha! I should remember to pass by here every day. An abundance mindset. Good one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mwa, I think it also means we don't worry about having enough to do what we need to do. I'm working on it!

      Delete
  5. I like your cousin's advice, though I'm not sure it's always that easy! I do think she's onto something with her words about the "scarcity mindset," though. (I suffer from the same tendency, and when I was more actively practicing Buddhism I always took heart from the Dharma's recommendation against feeling false scarcity.) Anyway, with your ability and connections I have no doubt more work will be coming your way at a fair price!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve, sometimes it's hard to just trust that everything will be ok, you know? But in fact, everything will be ok, whatever it turns out to be.

      Delete
  6. Amazingly wonderful that you were able to pay off both your children's collage bills. What a start you have given them, being debt free. You are worth every penny you are asking and may that circle invisibly around your head whenever you go talk to anyone about work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristin, well, they're not quite debt-free, they do have some student loans, but not a lot, all things considered. And I'm working on having that new thought circle around my head!

      Delete
  7. In my inexperienced opinion, maybe it truly is a matter of some authors can afford - but that doesn't mean you should charge less. People have to make their own decisions based on realistic numbers. I think Ms Moon has a good point - in many businesses, there are numerous inquiries for every completed deal. I'm not being any help! But I feel for you. Maybe, as John says above, on days like this it might be best to rest and recharge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. jenny_o, i agree with you. i suppose the trick in any line of work is connecting with the people who want and are able to pay for the service you offer. the anxiety comes from the need to make a living, and worrying about whether the market for what i offer can sustain that. plus, some people are good and persuasive negotiators and some are less so. that might be the issue, actually. i bet mr moon is a gifted negotiator while i'm all apologetic (internally, but still) as i cite my fees. as i said to ms moon, don't i sound whiny?

      Delete
    2. I meant "can't afford", of course - but you figured it out :)

      Not whiny at all. Just stating a problem. Working on a problem by writing it out.

      Delete
  8. I have those days too, sometimes. I want success to look like some feature in an inspirational magazine, or something. I believe there is some wisdom in what your cousin said. That is an incredible thing, putting your two children through college. Truly something to be proud of.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...