Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bold Living: A Lesson from the Recession

A curious little discovery. Being a writer and so far not a bestselling one, I usually earn less than friends who are not in the arts. My car rolled off the line in '92, etc. I never thought that embarrassed me at all. It's merely a cost of my calling in life, and most of the time worth the trade.

But during this past year of recession with almost everyone economizing, I've discovered that other people's scrimping feels very companionable to me. For one thing, I notice that I now compare notes with friends on the subject more than I used to.

So maybe the social aspect of my miserliness did bother me, changing my behavior in ways I wasn't aware of. It's interesting to find I was unsettled by something without knowing it -- and unconsciously restricting myself. Now I'm wondering what else might be working on me that way, without my knowing it.

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Anonymous said...

The subconscious is an amazing thing. One of my artist friends just finished painting a series of orchids and realized their manipulative ways were very much like her two ex-husbands.

Money is a very intimate subject. It took me some time to feel comfortable saying among my wealthier friends, "I can't afford to do that." Whereas I used to be embarrassed and almost whisper it,
it now seems to be a perceived badge of honor. My circumstances have not changed:, theirs have.

Greta said...

Ah, Peggy, where we stand on something depends upon where we sit...or something like that.

In all sincerity, I think of you as an author. A real one. Until you just brought it up, I hadn't thought about your not having a bestseller.

As for scrimping, I thought you valued your car for its artwork, not because it's (probably) paid for.

In terms of economizing, the recession has affected me in the opposite direction. I no longer stand out among friends b/c I buy most of my things at Goodwill or the PTA Thrift Shop. BTW, I found some great, gaudy earrings last week for 25 cents each!

billie said...

I think all of us are getting major life lessons from this recession. It's been interesting to me as I cut back on things and instead of feeling deprived I feel lucky.

And it's not even just money and "things."

Last time I went to Weymouth I came back realizing that at some point along the way, in the past two years, I had stopped focusing on selling/publishing/advances/sales and honed in on the amazing experience of sharing that space and time with writers and people I've come to know and love.

We had a "cocktail and critique" every night and sitting and listening to each person's work as he/she read it out loud was a tremendous gift. Which then fueled my own work.

I remember consciously noting as I drove home at the end of the week that engaging that way with other people who love writing, love hearing the work of others, and do it for the love of the craft IS the writing life. So much more than the end product of making a sale.

Now, all that said, of course I'd love to sell a book. There's value in that aside from any money involved, and the money too is a good thing. But it's the economy that has me looking at the value of things and making changes in what I view as wealth.

Long comment! Thanks for letting me think out loud here... :)

Peggy Payne said...

I think we're all three in pretty much the same place on this philosophically. Feeling companionable.

Peggy Payne said...

Make that four of us. Can't count.