In light of my recent loss of a job in retail, I’ve been looking more carefully into new and perhaps more rewarding career options. It will take time to develop these options, so I may end up working another part-time retail job if I can find one in the depressed Southern Illinois economy. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few of the possibilities with you and see what you think.
First of all, there’s my writing. So far, I’ve published one work of full-length non-fiction, two books of poetry, and several poems and articles in various local and non-local publications. I also have two or three unfinished novels, two unpublished short stories, several unpublished poems, and plenty of ideas and leads for future work.
As an independent author without an agent or a publishing contract, I’m responsible for doing all of my own publicity and self-promotion in order to make these and any future works known to the general public. It’s up to me to contact book stores, magazines, web sites, news outlets, and so on to get these works distributed and announced/promoted in as many places as possible.
However, as mentioned earlier, I’ve been suffering from the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the past several years. The symptoms are improving, especially now that I’m no longer doing any manual labor, and I hope for a full recovery from any such symptoms sometime this summer. But before my recent resurgence in health, I was barely able to work my retail job, much less do any professional writing, much less promote my own writing. So, for the past couple of years, my writing career has languished.
I’m hoping to use my recent change in employment status as an opportunity to remedy this situation.
As I make the decision to spend time on my writing, I can already hear some of the nay-sayers saying their nays. Writing is a difficult business to break into, and even some of the famous authors I look up to have spent long periods of their life in relative poverty or stuck in some other dead-end job to support their true career.
I get this. Believe me, I get this. But there’s precious little else available in Southern Illinois anyway, so why not give it a try? Given the low cost of living here, I can get by on a lot less than someone living in New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles who is submitting stories and articles and poems to the same magazines and publishers as I am.
If I can just get a few short stories published, and publish one or two new books with similar or greater sales to Revolution of One, then that will be enough to get my foot in the door, make a name for myself beyond Southern Illinois, and get enough seed money to move on to bigger and better things.
In the meantime, I’m going to be searching for part-time employment to supplement this income. If possible, though, I want this to be related to my chosen line of work and areas of interest.
For example, I will probably be teaching one or more classes at the Country Goddess bookstore here in Carbondale. They’re holding a series of classes this spring in their newly remodeled storefront, and it’s been a while since I taught a class or workshop, so I’d like to get back into the action.
I will also be looking into teaching a class or two at John A. Logan College this summer or fall. My Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy probably isn’t enough to become an established teacher there just yet. But I’ve known two or three people who have done Continuing Education courses at Logan and I find the idea appealing. This is something I’ve been considering for almost a year now, but I wanted to be sure that I would have the time and energy to give to my students before jumping into teaching at the community college level.
I’ve got the time and energy now, eh?
In the long-term, I’ve long wanted to pursue the idea of traveling throughout the Midwest and beyond to give talks and lead workshops on the ecological, social, and spiritual issues of our time. I organized several such events here in Carbondale a few years ago and gave book talks for Revolution of One at a bookstore in Bloomington, Indiana and at the nearby Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary. So, this is something I definitely have experience in and could expand on in the future.
Finally, as some of you know, I’m involved in a project to start a Pagan Monastery here in Southern Illinois. I’ve been meeting with a few people to talk about the details of this community project for the past several weeks, and it’s look promising for the fairly near future. In the short term, the projects we undertake as a community will probably be small and simple enough that they won’t have an immediate impact on my economic life. But in the long-term, we would ideally offer ecological and spiritual workshops, grow ecological and permacultural foods, create a green community center and living spaces, etc. And depending on how exactly we go about all of that, it might change my entire life.
That is, in fact, part of the idea.
So, I have a lot of prospects on the horizon. Unfortunately, most of those are unlikely to help me in the short term. Therefore, the search for stopgap measures and part-time income continues.
In the meantime, feel free to consider this your golden opportunity to read my published works if you haven’t done so already. 🙂
Here in Southern Illinois, Revolution of One is still available for sale at the Neighborhood Co-op Grocery and will soon be available at the Country Goddess. These are both good locally-owned businesses, and I encourage you to support them if you live here in the region. If you don’t see it on the shelf at either place, ask them when they expect it to be back in so that they will know that people are interested in it.
If you’re an Amazon junkie, you can find Revolution of One quite easily by searching for my name or the title. To save you the trouble, though, here’s the direct link:
Amazon takes out a bigger chunk of the proceeds than the local businesses do. But if you live outside of Southern Illinois, prefer Amazon, want to add a review, don’t have an independent bookstore in your community, etc., then Amazon is still a good option.
You can also find this and several of my other published works at my online storefront:
Being an independent author has its down sides, but one of the up sides is that most of the net profit from my work (after printing and shipping costs) goes directly to me. When my royalties from online and out-of-town book sales cross a certain threshhold, I get a check in the mail. And when you support local businesses by buying one of my books, I get cash or check directly from the business in question.
Either way, your purchase will support me in my current and future work to raise awareness about — and call for action on — the ecological, social, and spiritual issues of our time. And with any luck, reading Revolution of One will help you to find your own ways to do the same!
Thank you to everyone who has expressed concern, support, encouragement, and love over the course of the past week. Once I have any news on the income and career front, I’ll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, I’m in good spirits, I’m grateful for what I have, and I’m looking forward to embarking on a new adventure!