Monday, September 1, 2014

Dispatch #26: Day of Labor

by Lupe Fernandez

Today marks the 120th observance of Labor Day, first established as a Federal Holiday in 1894, after decades of labor union members getting their heads bashed in for striking for better working conditions.

Last Saturday I attended a social function with my wife's co-workers. Many of them didn't know each other and thus were introduced and asked, "What do you do?" The same was asked of spouses. "What do you do?" Most of the attendees were engineers, programmers and various managers.

No one asked me what I did for a living?

What would I have said? "I'm a writer" and then get that look of "Have I read your book?"

Answer is no. I'm still looking for an agent.

Is writing labor? Do I work under hazardous conditions? I work near the kitty door to the garage and I can smell the kitty box when Sugar takes a dump. She's a sweet cat, but she lays some stinkers. I'm probably inhaling minuscule kitty litter particles as I type.  I eat my scrambled eggs over the key board and a crumb or two spill in between the keys. Will I create a bacteria hazard?

Writing isn't the same as digging a ditch. I went camping last month and it rained for three days, so I dug a trench around the tent, thinking of that old adage, "If you don't go to college, you'll end up digging ditches."

My wrists and fingers ache sometimes after a long stint at the keyboard. I slam the keys hard when I type, a habit leftover from ye olden days of the typewriter.

Is my labor valuable? No one has ever tried to steal my work. I've been mugged, but Senor Mugger was after my wallet. He didn't say, "Gimme your YA Contemporary manuscript or I'm gonna stick ya!"

To which I would have responded, "The word 'gonna' is not grammatically correct. You could say, 'I'm going to stab you with my sharp knife, thus damaging your liver and inflicting bodily pain. Therefore, you should yield to my demand and hand over your manuscript.'" Though I imagine by this time, I'd be lying in the street bleeding to death sans manuscript and wallet.

I do feel pride in my work. I study the craft. I learn from others. I have joined an organization and networked with others with similar interests. I read about author success stories. I've read about writers arrested and murdered for their work. I recall reading a warning, "At the beginning of a dictatorship, poets and writers are the first to be arrested."

I haven't had my head bashed in for protesting for better working conditions, though my daughters bought me a keyboard tray for I wouldn't have to type on my lap. My wrists feel better, thank you ladies.

But I always think about stories. Yours and mine. Well, mostly mine. I struggle over nouns, verbs, adjectives, character, misspellings, plot, metaphor, and the question "Will this damn thing ever sell?"

Back to work.

12 comments:

  1. Hi Lupe, I'm with you -- I moved my laptop + keyboard to my "dining" table and eat there, so lots of crumbs (even salad dressing) spill on my keyboard. My laptop sits "above it all" on my Phongraphix binder. I have a desktop in the office, but there's a ton of filing and it's Win 8--I like my Win 7 laptop. I often wonder about agents. I have a small independent publisher for my children's books and am working on middle grade, though one novel wants to be a YA, I think. Yes, it is labor--at this point a "labor of love," but I feel good whenever I sell a book and get a good review. I think the selling is even more laborious than the labor of writing. Best to you. Keep it up. Soon you'll have another book from your blog posts--which I enjoy very much. Blessings, Penny (www.penelopeannecole.com)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Penny,
      Thanks showing up to work.
      Sincerely,
      Compensation Cad

      Delete
  2. Oh so true, Lupe. I really enjoyed your article. Pat the cat for me too!! Cats hafta do what cats hafta do. . . phew!!!

    I pinned your post to my Writing Help etc - on Pinterest.

    Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits
    http://www.margotfinke.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margot,
      Bella the cat likes to pee outside the kitty box. I have to be wary she doesn't sneak into my workspace and do her business.
      Sincerely,
      Volatile Organic Compound

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Sue,
      Thanks for the compliment. I knew I'd think of something to post.
      Sincerely,
      Tardy Tarn

      Delete
  4. Loved it all Lupe! You could self publish and have an gent pick it up later after it sells its first 100,000 copies. That way you could have them kicking down door, and everyone would want to know what you do then, YEAH!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan,
      Thanks for the suggestion. I'm good at self-aggrandizement.
      Sincerely,
      Self Helpless

      Delete
  5. What a great and true article, such a keeper for an author
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kit,
      Appreciate the patronage.
      Sincerely,
      Keeper Weeper

      Delete
  6. You know, it is a beautiful sunny day in So Cal. I watch from my classroom window as the squirrels run by and up the tree that sits outside my window, the one my students stare at when they check out of one of my lessons- yeah it happens even to the funniest of teachers. And I see the clean hard wood ancient floors, the old line chalkboard peeking out from behind my Smart Board that still hasn't been connected and I smell the years of old. I wonder who from these desks has gone on to find fame and fortune in their career of choice. I wonder what my manuscript will inspire as I write it. I wonder why I am even writing it at all.

    It is a labor of love, a calling, because in the end, the only one reading it will be you at times, and so that has to be enough. We are truly blessed when others can read it and want to read it and are buying it so they can read it. It validates us.

    But writing is lonely and do I crave it? I guess I do. It's the only place my thoughts can live without any barriers. It keeps me from going insane I think.

    Lupe as long as you are not using the kitty litter, you will be ok. Write away and include lots of crumbs. Currently, I am snacking on Sour Cream and Onion chips so I am sure flakes will haunt my keyboard until I decide to clean it.

    Great post!
    Hilde;D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Hilde. I'll stay out of the kitty box.
      Sincerely,
      Meow Chow

      Delete

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