In a town without a name, in a heavy downpour, thought he passed his own shadow by the backstage door

So, we’ve been working on our Principal Speaker speech for PhilCon — which is to say, I took a first swing at it, and now it’s Steve’s turn.  Spent a good bit of time last evening — all of my writing time, in fact — staring at a blank sheet of paper.  I’m sorry to report that the paper won the first round.

Well.  Today’s another round.  We’ll catch it on the rebound.

Yesterday brought the news that the Verso Paper will be shutting down the mill in Bucksport by year-end, throwing almost 600 people out of work — about 10 percent of the town’s population.  That number does not, of course, include the businesses that depended on the mill and the mill workers, which will also be forced to close.

Verso Paper says the Bucksport mill isn’t profitable — that it simply can’t be profitable.  Well.  Don’t take my word for it — here’s the article in the Bangor Daily News.

Today’s news run also produced a map of the hardest places to live in the US — here’s the link to the article and the map.

When I posted that link on Facebook, a friend mentioned that some areas of Maine aren’t doing so well.  And I agreed that, yes, Maine is a poor state; a fact that encouraged our move here, a quarter century ago.  Had we remained in the Baltimore area, both Steve and I would have been working multiple jobs in our so-called “professions” in the clerical and retail fields, just to pay the rent.  We would have been no richer, in the sense of having more money, and we would surely have written fewer novels — perhaps only the first three; who would have had the time to write?  We would, I think, have had a. . .less joyous life thus far, even granting that parts of the life we have had were Pretty Scary.

So, it’s a funny thing. . .we did sort of choose to be poor, going into the whole writer thing eyes open and knowing that writers often die too young and broke.  But, knowing that we would never get rich by staying inside the box, and knuckling down to work. . .helped make the choice to break out of the box and pursue our art much, much easier.

If you’re going to die broke, you might as well live happy.

So, that.

For the rest of the day, I have some blank paper to stare at, a survey to fill out, and some housecleaning to do.  Someday soon, I really ought to drag out the files to be gone through and sent to be archived, but today may not be that day.

Up here in the northland, it’s a cool, brilliant day.  The leaves on the tree outside my window have turned yellow, and half of them have fallen already.  The sumac is a blazing scarlet.

Hope your day is every bit as brilliant.

Today’s blog title brought to you by Foreigner.  Here’s the link to Juke Box Hero.

4 thoughts on “In a town without a name, in a heavy downpour, thought he passed his own shadow by the backstage door”

  1. “If you’re going to die broke, you might as well live happy.” Yes. And if the only thing you’re really good at is something very iffy (like writing fiction for a living), the right choice is to move someplace with low cost of living and work like stink to get better at the thing you’re good at. I have a number of half-talents–which is to say I’m slightly better than mediocre at a bunch of things, and really bad at which might make any of them work in normal economic situations. Can sing–but not well enough. Can draw–but not well enough. Can cook, knit, etc. All of those hit a very hard and thick ceiling of ability. But storytelling…that unpredictable “career” which is mostly not a career and more of a lurch from one thing to another…that was what I could do that I could also get better at. And finally realized it, and got seriously working at it.

    (Speaking of which, my characters are now on a pair of inflated rafts in a cold ocean, about to run into something capable of puncturing said rafts. Will it or won’t it? Back to work I go…)

  2. I realized quite early in life that all the creative things that I loved were not compatible with my other love, eating regularly. I also had a positive genius for qualifying for jobs that suddenly became oversubscribed or obsolete. My ultimate compromise was to find a profession I liked that I could survive on part-time if necessary. That combined with a moderate and cash-up-front lifestyle has allowed time for creative endeavors, and has worked pretty well so far. Mind you, I’m sure that’s what those poor sods of millworkers thought last week too.

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