Thursday, September 15, 2005


"Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way."
The Holy Bible: The Second Book of Moses, Called Exodus: 23:20

One thing about living the writer's life is this: You have to be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices and learn to live on the edge. I always tell the students in my writing classes (especially travel journalism) "Don't quit your day job!" Because the truth is, until you get to be a best-selling author you are not going to make a lot of money out of writing. These days especially, free-lancing has become particularly grim and you're lucky if you get a measly $25 for a story. I've made up to $700 (including photos) but lately, the newspapers have formed their own little groups (umbrellas) and take very little free-lance material. So you're always on the look-out for new markets. And frankly, most of the internet markets don't pay much if anything.

I've managed to live a 95% writer's life for the last couple of years because I teach writing classes, though these are seasonal and I'm on 8 week contracts for them. Therefore I keep my name in one daycare which I sometimes work for, though over the past few months this has turned into a rare occasion. I don't teach during the summer other than the short four-week "Writing in the Park" memoirs group I did. So believe me, I am an expert at living on the edge. In fact, the past two months have been about as grim as they could get. My modest pension barely covers rent and utilities and any extra expenses quickly run the bank account dry. I've gotten used to not buying new clothes, carefully chosing where I shop for groceries, and scrimping wherever I can. It isn't always fun. I have no car but I have a bus pass which allows me free access around town and I walk whenever I can. Because of my low income I have a leisure pass that allows me free access to swimming pools.

When things happen like expected paycheques that dont materialize, and no calls to work, then I'm in a big fix. But thanks to my GUARDIAN ANGELS and very kind, generous friends, somehow I have managed to get by all summer, by the skin of my teeth.

In one respect, being home and not at work outside has given me more time for my writing. But that's the catch. No work. No money. And that's where the guardian angels have been so attentive, watching over me to make sure my needs are met. And they always are! From care packages of groceries to small loans, my friends have assissted me.

I'm sure my father is one of those Guardian Angels who are looking after me. Lately he's been very close, showing up in my dreams and always in my thoughts. And again today, there was 'help' when I needed it.

I went to pick up my pay and found it only covered one short day, not three as expected. What to do with the end of the month still almost 2 weeks away? I felt pretty close to tears, desparing over this endless plight of pennilessness. Decided to treat myself to lunch and think things over, say a few prayers, send some good thoughts to the cosmos.

Walking home down the Drive, along came a Guardian Angel (that lovely Frenchman whose smile lights up my world!) Had an inspiring, though short chat with him, then on down the Drive. Ran into my surrogate daughter/friend who I hadn't seen for ages. We went for coffee and a talk. Then, on the way down the street, we stopped to buy some autumn flowers to brighten up my apartment, and suddenly she slipped me $50. I was astonished! Such kindness. And now another friend has offered to loan me a bit more so I can pay my apartment insurance. See? The Guardian Angels are watching over me. I have a lot to be thankful for!

I thought my Memoir class was starting up today, but it was a mistake and not til next week and at that time my 3 night school classes also begin. So the end is in sight! Meanwhile I will concentrate on more writing. Have to fine-tune the last chapter segment of the novel and think about writing another travel article. After all, if you don't send things out to market you won't get any returns, no matter how small.

"When at night I go to sleep
Fourteen angels watch do keep..."

"Let brotherly love continue.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby
some have entertained angels unawares."
The Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews 13: 1-2


Anonymous said...

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R. Scott Whitley said...

As touching as the previous "comment" on buying and selling is I'll drop my two cents in.

Wynn, thanks for putting my situation in perspective. I often lament my "poverty"...which isn't poverty at all... I just wish I had more... but who doesn't. I make excellent money, and it's guaranteed, with insurance and everything. I'm very lucky to be where i am and be able to write too... I admire your courage... I couldn't do what you do b/c I'd worry myself into the ground... but I honestly admire your courage in doing what you love. I know I always have better luck when my mantra is "I am provided for" rather than "I wish I had more."

Thanks for your story! Good luck!

Sam said...

I rather like Meg, in 'little woman', who laments about being poor - then marries John, a poor man, and lives so happily in poverty.
There is so much more than money in this world - but it's nice to be able to make the ends meet. My prayer has always been 'just give me enough to get by.'
(Of course, when getting by includes a new car to get by with, panic does sort of set in. Mine broke down last week and I'm starting to wonder how many groceries I can fit on my bike, lol.)

Wynn Bexton said...

I got a lot of practice living on a shoe-string when I was a single mom with two other mouths to feed and no child-support. So I guess you can say I've had lots of experience as a survivor. But still, sometimes, it seems so bleak. However it always turns out okay so I've learned not to panic, to have Plan B ready to use (as in the case today, I remembered a friend has just told me not to hesitate to call her, so I did and now I'm sure I'll make do til the end of the month.) But it's a drag, really, when most of your friends own their own condos, drived cars, buy new clothes every weekend, belong to spas and gyms and can afford luxuries. Ah well...I'm not suffering too much and I do have lots of time to write (too bad I waste so much of it!) Grrr....

Wynn Bexton said...

PS, by the way, anonymous...I do not own a credit card nor do I have a bank account that shows anything but zero so I don't think I'm into buying anything on credit or otherwise. And the only thing for sale is a few of my travel articles...sorry...

Gabriele C. said...

Wynn, I'm so with you here. I'm unemployed and with the German economics f-ed up the way it is not likely to get a job any time soon. Since I'm socially dysfunctional, I don't even have friends to serve as my guardian angels.

That Anonymous won't come back to read your reply. It's a typical spam mail. You might consider activating the word verification Bloggers offers if you get more of these.

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Wynn, I do believe that you have the heart and soul of a true writer.

May your angels continue to watch over you and provide you with the strength and wherewithal to continue penning your lovely stories for years to come.

Wynn Bexton said...

Thanks everyone for your kind messages. My computer is broken now (waaa!) and I'm at the library. But I'll post again soon.