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 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.