14 Things I Learned During the Summer of Done

We’re halfway through the #SummerofDone and I’ve learned a few things:

1) You cannot afford to be a beautiful and unique snowflake when it comes to writing. If you wait for six silent hours to yourself, uplifting classical music on in the background, no dishes in the sink, and cherubs floating overhead, there won’t be a single word on the page. Some days, if you wait until all of the children are fed and clothed for the day, there won’t be a single word on the page.

2) Older children are mightily good at caring for younger children for short periods of time. Fifteen-year-old boys included.

3) The dollar store has a buttload of cheap toys and activities that, when packaged into numbered bags and given out via ping pong ball lottery daily, become the highlight of a kindergartener’s day.

4) Except the color-your-own velvet painting with markers set. No one likes that shit.

5) The occasional pricey Michael’s crafts (tie dyed shirts, kinetic sand) are received like the Ark of the Covenant. And at $15+ a pop, you shouldn’t be surprised.

6) Some authors find that spoken words stop their flow. Some like to have the murmur of conversation in the background. Some like to drown in a sea of words, clawing their way out by flinging them at a page.

7) There are actual human beings who behave like cartoon villains and wreak havoc on your life and your family for personal gain. That same person might endorse you on LinkedIn afterward. And then your brain will explode.

8) COBRA costs $1,800 a month. Unemployment benefits are $2,000 a month. Even with severance and savings, that equation does not work for very long.

9) You need to have less than $2,000 in assets to qualify for food stamps. No matter how little income is coming in.

10) The local food shelf requires no proof of income, but their website is terrible and it’s unclear how to get assistance.

11) Like the woman in this article, it’s weird/shaming/awkward to have a late-model fancy car, yet need help to get through a tough time. If the car is paid off, do you sell it because of a month without work? What about a year?

12) A trip to the beach is free. July 11th is free Slurpee day. A local casino gives out free comedy show tickets hoping you’ll stop to gamble (you won’t.) The library has free passes to AAA baseball games. Home Depot sometimes gives out free hot dogs and water at lunchtime.

13) The promise of selling a novel in the future does not put money in the bank now.

14) You still have to keep writing, no matter how screwed up things become.

Author: TJ Berry

TJ Berry has been a political blogger, bakery owner, and spent a disastrous two weeks working in a razor blade factory. She now writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror from Seattle with considerably fewer on-the-job injuries. She’s on Twitter @TJaneBerry.

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