First, I’d like to take this moment to extend my annual Black Friday offer to those of you who may need it. And since Black Friday’s always such a mess, I figured I’d do it on Wednesday. Y’know, when everyone’s busy cooking pie for tomorrow.
What’s the Black Friday offer? Okay, for all the new folks...
Actually, let me give you a little background first.
When I became a full time writer... I was poor again. Well below the poverty line poor. Phone-shut-off-no-internet-and-stealing-toilet-paper-from-the-library poor. All-our-shopping-at-the-99-Cent-Store poor. I was writing for a screenwriting magazine and had a chance to sit down and talk with Shane Freakin’ Black over a coffee or three as part of a work assignment... and I had to turn it down. I didn’t have enough money to buy a coffee. Or to get me across the city to where he was.
Yeah. I literally didn’t have enough money to go work.
Being poor’s a constant, gut-churning feeling of tension. Of being painfully aware of what you don’t have and what you can’t do. There are some messed up folks who love to bellow about “nanny states” and “entitlements” but the simple truth is that the vast majority of poor people don’t abuse the system. They’re way too busy just trying to survive with their home, their health, and maybe just a shred of dignity. My partner and I went through three years like that. Three years of feeling constantly sick with despair, just waiting for the inevitable bill or emergency that’d destroy us.
And for the past ten or fifteen years, a lot of folks have made it painfully clear that they judge you because of that poverty. They find you lacking as a person because of it. And that just adds to the feelings of tension.
This feeling’s even worse at the holidays. Because so much of the holidays is about giving, and when you’re poor you just... you’ve got nothing to give. You can' buy things. You can't travel. Half the time you can't even afford to make something, which you couldn't get to them anyway because travel includes "across the city" and "the other side of town." It doesn’t matter how much you care about that person, it doesn’t matter how much you want to. It doesn’t matter because you’ve got nothing.
And again... you can feel people judging you over it. At every office party or gathering of friends or family dinner. There’s almost always somebody there judging you for being trapped and powerless.
This deep-in-your-gut feeling manages to be even worse at the holidays. So much of this season’s about giving, and when you’re poor you just... you’ve got nothing to give. It doesn’t matter how much you care about someone, it doesn’t matter how much you want to just feel normal and give them something—anything—to express that caring. It doesn’t matter because you’ve got nothing.
And again... you can feel people judging you over it. At every office party or gathering of friends or family dinner. You’re trapped and powerless and somebody’s judging you for it. Hell, you end up judging yourself, and it just becomes this endless cycle of guilt and resentment and desperation. I really hope that none of you reading this are there right now, feeling helpless and sick with despair. Because like I said before, it seriously sucks to be in that position
If you can’t afford gifts for your family or friends this season, shoot me note at my old business email-- firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve got a bunch of author’s copies I’ll autograph to whoever you want and mail out to you—or to someone else, if you need it shipped. I can even gift wrap if you need it. I’ll send them out for as long as the books last. You can request a specific book but I can’t promise anything on that end.
Know what? I’ve got some audiobook sets, too. Yeah, those big wallets of CDs. If audiobooks work better, just say so. I still can’t promise which one you’ll get, but if it’d be better for the person you’re gifting, just say so.
And hey—almost every year a few folks offer to chip in and help me out with this. Thank you so much for the thought, but you don’t need me to do that. You can go be fantastic people all on your own. I guarantee, there’s a toy bank or food bank or some kind of program within ten miles of you right now that could really use some help. And you could be the person to give that help.
One more time, sorry to hammer it home but... this offer’s for those of you who need some help getting gifts for others. The people who are pulling unemployment, cutting back on everything, and feeling trapped because they can’t afford gifts for family or friends. It’s not so you can recommend someone who might like a free book. You could do that for them, too—go get them a book. Then you’re helping your friend and your local bookstore. And I’ve got some events coming up so you can buy signed books if you want.
NOW... all that said...
This may be the last post here on the ranty writing blog. Emphasis on here. Recent social media disruptions have lined up with some of my own plans, and I’m pulling a lot of stuff all under one umbrella. The ranty writing blog is going to migrate over to PeterClines.com, which is getting a facelift and an update and will hopefully be your place for all things weird-story related from here on.
Before anyone gets worried... I’m not going to delete the ranty writing blog here on Blogspot. Not yet, anyway. So if you’ve bookmarked anything, you’re still good for now. But just be aware everything new is going to be over there.
Anyway... there’s your Black Friday offer and your ranty writing blog update. I’m sure we’ll talk again soon when I remind you of all the books I’ve written that make wonderful gifts and also do my “cool books I read this year” list.