The curse of the drinking classes

The original is “Drink: the curse of the working classes”, but I prefer one that a manager of mine, nearly thirty years ago now, said one Friday afternoon. “Work: the curse of the drinking classes.”

Work is also the curse of the writing class. The fact is, that as much as I’d like to spend all my writing time on fiction, I need to pay bills. Selling stories to online ‘zines at $2.00 or $10.00 or even $25.00 doesn’t keep my hydro on, or my phone connected. Groceries? Oh, yeah, them, too. I love my novel, and I’m working hard on it, but I can’t work on it all the time, because, again, Bell and the guy who pumps my gas won’t wait until I get a great book deal and a huge advance to be paid. That’s just life.

I’ve spent a lot of time on non-fiction this year, writing for online and print publications, and for the local newspaper. It’s keeping me afloat, which is good, because when I do get time to write fiction, I can do it without that little worry in the back of my mind about the bills.

Working on something else – even when we complain about it – also has the benefit of keeping us grounded in daily life and keeping our butts from expanding to overflow our chairs. Yes, I work out, but deliberately exercising to burn calories and keep the muscles in trim is a recent trend in human history. Usually the physical work of the day handled that. (Don’t talk to me about the Greek gymnasiums – those guys worked out because they were on call to fight in time of war, not because they spent six to twelve hours a day writing memos and attending committee meetings!)

I did good work on The Swan Harp at the binge this weekend. Some of it was on the pages of the novel, some was on background stuff the reader will never see, but which I need to know in order to write a clear, cohesive narrative and build believable characters. When I started writing this story, the fact that some of the humans could turn into swans was a convenient explanation for something. Now it’s become a large part of the story, so I need to know more about swans, and I need to imagine how swans who also had a human form would see the world, and how humans might be like or unlike them. I did a lot of that work this weekend, and it’s cleared the way for some serious novel-writing.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time on pottery this summer, because I have a show – yikes! – a week from Saturday, and I know my pottery generally sells well. If all goes according to plan, this show could net me enough to keep the lights on and the phone connected for another month.

If it doesn’t, I’ll deal with that when it happens. My knees are no longer good enough for waitressing, but I’m sure I can find something.

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