May, May Go Away: A Month of Attempting to Make Money and a Manuscript

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Medical illustration of a human mouth by Dunca...

For seven days, no sounds left my mouth. I lost my voice trying to be a writer. (Medical illustration of a human mouth by Duncan Kenneth Winter. Part of an unpublished manuscript on medical illustration written by Winter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia))

I LOST MY VOICE. Not my writing voice, the real one, which I desperately need to nag my husband (Noel, milk; Noel, oven!, and to sing Raffi songs to my bored toddler at the grocery store. I could barely manage a whisper: Baby Beluga

My son thought it was funny. My husband thought it was fantastic.

The voice loss, I think, came about either because I went to bed with wet hair and left the window open, or because I was coming undone. I didn’t just have too much on my plate, I had gone back for seconds and thirds and had acquired two or three plates, plus a few dessert bowls.

At this stage in my life, I can’t afford the luxury of just being a ‘writer writer.’ Unfortunately, my family needs to eat and my son has a particular fondness for cheese, the $14 bars made by Armstrong Cheese. So, in an attempt to earn an income over the last four weeks, here is a snapshot of what I’ve had on the go:

  • A copywriting business. Yes, opened Read Head Copywriting (website coming soon) so I can put some hormone-free, grain-fed bacon on the table.
  • Son with a throat infection and five-day fever. He wouldn’t let me put him down…for days…even when I had to pee.
  • A government-sponsored business plan development program, in which I spend 35 hours a week working on the business plan (for said copywriting business) in exchange for ‘support’ (money and workshops).
  • A contract to re-write almost 300 course descriptions for the local community college’s continuing studies brochure. First Read Head contract. Yay?
  • Revisions to the screenplay(a film adaptation of my memoir) . Just here and there and mostly over the phone.
  • Teaching a 15-hour business writing course.
  • Launch of an events listings/entertainment articles website, for which I’m meant to write a handful of articles and type all the listings, and the website hates me. Gah!
  • Blog. Alas, this and something that starts with ‘s’ had to give.

I get a bit nauseous just looking at the list.

And I’m still naive enough to dream of a day where my to-do list for the day contains just one of those items. I’ll step out the back door with steaming coffee in one hand, papers in the other, and a pen in my teeth. My knees will bounce down the knobby hill towared my writing cabin. I will enter some time after six in the morning and spend the day writing in that musty scent of summer and wood. I will write something great. It will definitely be about someone else, because after a memoir and a screenplay about me, I’m a bit sick of myself. So, a biography perhaps or maybe even a work of historical fiction.

By then I’ll have not just a working voice but also a scary voice, and my children won’t dare disturb me.

And by then I’ll have not just a working voice but also a scary voice, and my children won’t dare disturb me. I’ll emerge some time in the mid-afternoon, when school buses are starting to round the streets and the sun is on other side of the house, still in the daydreamy haze of my characters’ lives.

I imagine my son and a friend building a fort at the edge of the fence, under a willow tree. As I lock my writing cabin door, his sand-faced friend will ask, “What does your mom do in there?” Benny will shrug. “She talks to herself.”

If you are not yet a famous author, what kinds of day jobs do you have to get by? How do you manage making money with making manuscripts?