Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Unemployment Fantasies

Although I've verbally accepted a new offer from my publisher, the contract hasn't arrived yet, and neither of us have signed off on the new agreement. It's pretty much a done deal, but until I officially read every word of the contract (twice) and scribble my name on the dotted line, I'm under no obligation to write anything for them, not even a Post-It note.

As it happens I've also just finished writing and turned in my last contracted novel. I have plenty of work to do; I've started writing the first book for the new contract, I'm putting together a pitch for another, and I'm working on a pile of free and promo stuff. But as of 9:00 am tomorrow morning I will (technically) be unemployed for the first time since 1998.

Realizing that I'm out of work didn't make me feel panicky, insecure or particularly happy. I like having a job, and . . . all right, I did indulge in a couple of fantasies we writers have at times like these, like:

Sending the Mass Expose E-mail: Writing to that long list of folks who did unforgivable things to you, and letting them know which of their significant others is having or has had carnal knowledge of other people on the long list. Bonus points: attach the pictures they never knew you snapped of them at the conferences with their boyfriend/girlfriend/adoring fan.

Reclaiming Your Honesty: Go back over every request or suggestion you ever received from your editor in regard to your writing, your manuscripts or whatever, and respond to each one again, only this time, tell her/him what you really think of their ideas.

Axing the Agent: (This only works if you've recently received a very lucrative offer) Fly to New York in person and take your agent out for a nice meal. Tell your agent how much the big offer is worth, give them a minute to work out what their hefty commission will be, then tell them you're not taking it because you're quitting Publishing, and they're fired.

Repaying the Buzzkillers: Do that really awful, terrible thing we discussed at length last month at the last Secret Publishing Handshake Cabal meeting. Remember -- unless they're illegal in your state, be sure to use at least two skunks, three rolls of duct tape, and five packages of firecrackers.

Beeg Name Grand Finale: (This is more for the huge bestsellers out there who'd like to make Le Grand Trampling Exit with a little style) Invite your agent and editor to your house for a barbecue, handcuff them to your picnic table in the back yard and, while you tell them that you're quiting Publishing for good, burn every one of your unpublished manuscripts, synopses and story idea outlines over the fire.

I'm sure I'll have a couple more fantasy moments before the contract arrives. Then I will dutifully read every word of it (twice) before I sign on the dotted line, and put away the conference pictures and the duct tape for another year of my writing life. Unless someone out there is interested in a really wonderful expose on the Publishing Industry from a writer who's been in the trenches since '98 . . . ?

What are your unemployment fantasies, Publishing or otherwise?

26 comments:

  1. Oh, that last one is just plain mean! I think it comes under cruel and unusual punishment of editors and agents. Made me smirk though.

    As for unemployment, well, I care for an aged parent - I don't want that job to end any time soon. Fortunately, it's not a 24/7 job, so I can write during the off hours.

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  2. OK, I too am now technically unmeployed,- as far as publishing /writing goes. (I still work four nights a week in the bar) Uhmm, and I even fired my agent. Not because of anything bad, but because my fantasy is to relax, get back in shape, spend some time on 'refilling the well' and then writing whatever I feel like when the idea strikes. *grin* So uhmm, my unemployment fantasy has become reality. Not as exciting as the skunks and duct tape..but it'll do for now. :)

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  3. Mine is so pedestrian in comparison. "Hey, I can do anything I want! I'll go write this book..."

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  4. No unemployment fantasies. I got out of the military and went back to university full time. I managed to drive myself and my then 6 month old son completely batshit crazy in the two weeks between my separation ceremony and the first day of classes. I *must* have something to do. God bless stay at home moms, but I just couldn't do it.

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  5. So did you get the pony in the new contract? I can't think of any unemployment fantasies right now, but yours are pretty good.

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  6. I'm not currently unemployed, though there are days when I'd like to be. If only the $ weren't such an issue...and the health insurance.

    If I were leaving my current industry and never coming back, I'd love to publicly call out each and every one of the people who have made my career painful over the years (and there are several). I could burn all my so-called bridges in a conflagration that would make Hiroshima look like a birthday candle. Hmmm...tempting....

    But mostly, I fantasize about spending the middle of each day--between about 9 and 4 when I actually have energy and brainpower--doing WHATVER I WANT. Not sitting my butt in a chair at work, not clocking my time, not spending my days in a gray cubicle in a basement without windows. I want sunshine. I want a choice of how to spend my days. I want to be able to follow the impulse to exercise in the middle of the day, or to just leave and go somewhere else for a couple of hours.

    *sigh* It's a happy fantasy, like the one where I find a winning lottery ticket on the ground...

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  7. Hmmmmm.... well, I'm not quite where you are...I've pitched some books, think there's interest, waiting to see. But there's still a book left to be written in my current contract, which I'm doing now but hmmmmm....

    My unemployment fantasy, I'd have to think that one over.

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  8. Those are good ones! I unfortunately don't have any unemployment fantasies other being the poor, starving writer with no heat in a crappy apartment, typing away on a typewriter and wearing fingerless gloves. But I don't even indulge that one, since at this point in my life, the idea of unemployment still freaks me out.

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  9. All my unemployment fantasies involve copious amounts of chocolate and a muscular pool boy named Raul.

    Welcome back. I'm glad to hear you're okay.

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  10. What makes me shake my head is the phrase "Secret Publishing Handshake Cabal meeting" because I can't tell is you're kidding or not. There's a whole bunch of you down south. It wouldn't surprise me. *shifty eyed* That is, if you weren't rabidly anti-writers-congregating-in-one-place-in-person, also called cons.

    I'm glad to hear you're all well and good. Congrats on the unofficially official contractiness.

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  11. My unemployment fantasies actually involve unemployment (sad but true). At least, fantasies where I give up the dayjob. :)
    Glad to hear that you and yours made it through the storms.

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  12. Honestly?

    Since last week, I've been fantasizing about moving to a small town in upstate NY and starting up a shop that caters to both town folk and the summer visitors.

    Course I'd also be working on the novel... (am not employed as a fiction writer)

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  13. Glad to hear you're soggy, but well. :)

    Hmm...so many fantasies, most involving four letter words. *g* I think I'll have to vicariously live through your list. I must say it is oddly a relief to be free to do whatever I want again.

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  14. At a company I worked for a few years ago, everybody in the Accounting and Information Technology departments would pool their money to buy tickets whenever the Mega-Millions lottery was over $100 million.

    Even split among all of us, the money would have been nice, but the fantasy that really kept us going was the havoc that would erupt when two entire departments gave notice on the same day.

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  15. I'd simply write for the joy again, nothing else.

    Having been intentionally 'unemployed' for quite some time, I'm still trying to get that one thing nailed down.

    I hope you got that pony. And a pasture to keep him in. :)

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  16. Oh, God, what wouldn't I do? Sky-diving in my pajamas. Sunbathing on a private island. Working for free in a used book store, just to read for like a month straight. Making enough chocolate chip cookies to sink a yacht and giving them away by the bagful to everyone I come across.

    Okay, and napalming my office building after making sure everyone's out. Or at least all but...oh...four people. Five. Six, at most.

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  17. Cruelty to skunks? For shame!

    When I was made redundant from a job many many years ago, I planned exactly how I could screw my ex-employers over during my notice period.

    Of course, I didn't act on it, but I knew what I could do to them if I chose. It would have been worth millions and a fair few newspaper headlines. Hah.

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  18. as soon as I am unemployed or have 6-8 months off I am riding my horse across the united states.

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  19. Anonymous9:33 AM

    "Unless someone out there is interested in a really wonderful expose on the Publishing Industry from a writer who's been in the trenches since '98 . . . ?"

    Um, yeah. That would seriously rock. As someone whose dream is to get their book published and write for a living, I'd love some advice about how to not burn out on THAT job, too.

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  20. Liza wrote: So did you get the pony in the new contract?

    They trotted one very nice pony out in front of me a few times, but I think it was (like most publishing pony tricks) mostly for show. Still, I don't mind settling for two pups and a nice big check to drop in the kids' college tuition account. :)

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  21. Darlene wrote: All my unemployment fantasies involve copious amounts of chocolate and a muscular pool boy named Raul.

    This is why we love you, Darlene.

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  22. Jess wrote: What makes me shake my head is the phrase "Secret Publishing Handshake Cabal meeting" because I can't tell is you're kidding or not.

    I'm kidding. Well, we have informally discussed the skunk scenario, but decided it would be a horrible, inhumane thing to do. To the skunks. ;)

    There's a whole bunch of you down south. It wouldn't surprise me. *shifty eyed* That is, if you weren't rabidly anti-writers-congregating-in-one-place-in-person, also called cons.

    I really have nothing against cons. I think if you honestly want to blow a couple thou on hanging out with your friends, eating bad food, being snubbed by various cliques and standing in line three hours to get a book signed by a bored Big Name who could care less who you are and what you're writing, you're entitled. ;)

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  23. Jordan wrote: I must say it is oddly a relief to be free to do whatever I want again.

    Enjoy it. It only lasts about five seconds. Hee hee.

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  24. Buffquirrel wrote: Of course, I didn't act on it, but I knew what I could do to them if I chose. It would have been worth millions and a fair few newspaper headlines. Hah.

    Good for you. I've got something like that tucked in my When I Tell Publishing to Blow Me file. No, two, actually . . . .

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  25. Anonymous wrote: Um, yeah. That would seriously rock. As someone whose dream is to get their book published and write for a living, I'd love some advice about how to not burn out on THAT job, too.

    To misquote Thomas Harris, Publishing makes their martinis with writers' tears. Never forget that and you should be able to avoid the worst of the hoopla.

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  26. Guys, as I noted on the Squishy post below, I'm seriously behind on everything electronically-related, so forgive me for not responding to every comment.

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