I was laid off today. I've actually been on furlough for three of the past four weeks, so it's not exactly a surprise, but still it is now official, so on my unemployment claims I will now stop checking off that I expect to be back at work in the next four weeks, because now I don't.
Am I sad/depressed/angry/worried/panicking? Yes. After withholding, my unemployment insurance totals $280. This covers my rent and most of my debt (school, etc), but not much else. Luckily, my fabulous partner has a much more secure job, but she earns every dollar she makes and deserves more. So, while we will not starve, I will probably be accumulating a bit of debt until I find a job, the prospects of which are just about as bad as they are. The chances of staying in my current field, printing, is probably slim. I hear rumor that offset press workers are being forced to retrain to receive benefits. There is a bit more of a market for digital, which I am in, but everyone is cutting back on extraneous overhead, which printing is deemed to be. I could easily be starting over at the bottom, running a forklift or something (on which I am OSHA certified as a trainer--CALL ME!!!).
But hey, I'm not starving. Plus, I have another job!
Of course, it is unpaid. (Unpaid, Mr/Ms. Googling Unemployment Investigator!)
I've been writing seriously for over two years now, balancing my creative secret life with the life of the full-time employee. So keeping myself busy will be no problem. Over the past few weeks I've actually come real close to finishing a full-length book-type-thing. Only about 20K words out. I might even finish it this next week. So I am actually looking forward to having some extra time, and not necessarily having to fight tiredness with stimulants, and undergoing sleep deprivation to be able to write and work at the same time.
But I am going to have to organize things a bit better. My career, cashflow, and schedule are now officially Favela Chic. So what am I going to do with myself? How ought I to quick-rig my life, and hack the former life of that gainfully employed dude which I am now squatting?
First we'll hack the schedule. Time is some of the easiest hacking there is.
Firstly, I'm still looking for a job. The unemployment is a nice cushion, but it's not enough for the current lifestyle. I'm a bit of a distance from freeganing it all the way to the community collective non-bank; I'm not quite prepared to default on those school loans. Plus, as Mr/Ms. Googling Unemployment Investigator will tell you, I am willing and able to work every day I am claiming for benefits. Having a steady paycheck is pretty sweet, and if I can continue in the printing industry, which I do enjoy, I would like to do so.
So I'm going to need two or three hours a day for job search and application, plus interview times. Luckily, in this climate it doesn't take long to go through all of the new postings in a given day, and what with some skills and experience, I can apply to much more directed and likely leads.
Then, there is the writing. I typically write for three hours a day, and mostly in a spurt in the late evenings, if I'm rested enough. I need a bit of break time spread into this, and for research and drinking coffee and etc, so we'll call it four or five hours.
There is also the lovely partner, who works a night shift. With my newfound flexible hours, I hope to be able to spend some time with her in the afternoon and evening before her shift, to eat a meal, or something similarly domestic. I should be able to work the other things around that, right?
Now, there is the question of supplementary income. There is the book-thing, and the other writing online, (WHICH IS ALL REALLY GOOD AND YOU SHOULD HAVE READ ALREADY OVER AT BRUTE PRESS) which mostly I have offered for free, to date. Maybe I should be thinking about and developing payment schemes. Dedicated POD printing with linked Amazon offerings? Micropayments? Tip button on Welcome to the Interdome? Advertising? Simply actually getting off my ass to send out submissions? I like free, but hey, maybe more people would be interested if I charged a little bit, and promoted myself a bit more. Unfortunately, setting up all this crap takes time. How much time per day for the pursuit of selling out? One hour? Two?
Now the problem is, I like the writing, and of course hanging out with the partner, but the rest of it shoved in there is starting to sound an awful lot like work! Work I am unpaid for no less, and which does not have a huge chance of payout. I might be better off practicing poker strategies, or working on my method for the track. (KIDDING. I only like to play Keno sometimes, and there my method needs no help. It's golden.)
So I guess I'm going to need a schedule. Crap. This self-employed thing is really a drag.
So what about space? What around me should I hack to make this process easier? Well, I already know about living on the cheap, since I done been to college. Soon I'll have tomatoes coming out of my ears when the garden starts yielding in a couple weeks. And I don't know where the actual squalettes are in PDX, but because I have a wonderful, well-paid partner with job security (did I mention she is in a UNION? Hmm... wish I had one of those now...) we'll probably stay in the house with the tomatoes and the papier-mache horse on the porch, and Original Ray keeping an eye on things (don't worry about him... I'll show you a picture some time).
But maybe I should reshape my time-based projects to somehow adapt to this new, unemployed space? Is a schedule enough of a time-space, or do I need something more? I could start an unemployment blog, and channel my writing and monetization efforts into the same place, and maybe get well known and at least get a job out of it if not a coffee-table blog-book deal. But that's not really my thing. Actually, it kind of makes me want to choke myself.
Maybe, instead, this is a time to take risks. I have a lot of ideas way more risky than trying to be a damn writer. Maybe it is time to throw a couple levers, move a couple fulcrums, and really put my weight on some things. Hell, the tough part, the preamble to "quitting my job to do _____" had already been established. Now all I have to do is do it. But, which it? Hmm...
This remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, if you have any ideas, any wild schemes, or any incoherent notions requiring someone with a lot of time to flesh it through, give me a holler. Got an idea for something to spend time on with no apparent tangible result? How about a diagram of a concept not fully accessible with our current metaphysical technology? Any stray words you need strung into a sentence? I am officially "open for business". And since sustainable business models are totally out this year, I would say yes, my industry is booming.
PS. Also, if you know anyone that would be interested in publishing a work of literary fiction about time, space, plants, and memory, sung in a jaunty and ebullient well-meaning prose not unlike Gogol driving an out-of-control troika hitched to Beckett, Nietzsche, and that other post-modern jerk of an author you really, really like, then drop me a line. I know I guy who is writing it, and he'd be happy to send you a portion to read.
Predictions for 2012
5 years ago