Sunday, May 30, 2010

Brass in Pocket


Gabriella Herkert

Catnapped and Doggone

If I won the lottery, would I give up writing? Hmm. Not before I wrote about the mathematical improbability of winning the lotto when I was a starving writer too impoverished to spend a dollar on a ticket. That one could end up as a doctoral dissertation worthy of the Nobel Prize for mathematics or as a headline for the National Enquirer. You have to love a story with such widespread appeal. But that digression doesn’t answer the question of the day. Would I, could I, should I, take my millions and do something else?

Oh, let’s be honest. Few writers make a living above the poverty line. Most of the writers I know who are able to devote themselves to writing full-time aren’t doing it because their books and short stories are providing for their families. Many rely on their spouses for income and many others call it full-time even if they are primarily responsible for child care, car pools, unpaid administrative support staff for family business and the like. I have a more than full time, sometime on the road day job and I write. If you threw kids into my mix, child welfare would get called. If we were in it for money, we’d go to law school. Wait a minute, I did go to law school. That explains that. I’ve been wondering. Res ipsa loquitor (I must have been paying attention during that law school class), a winning lottery ticket wouldn’t be the deciding factor in writing for me – or any other writer I know. Which is lucky since the odds of winning Megamillions are 1 in 135,145,920.

The lottery ticket, and this panel discussion, aren’t about the money either. They’re about the dream. And since this close your eyes and imagine doesn’t even cost the buck, I’ll go there. How would my life as a writer change if I won millions?

My first indulgence would be hiring a publicist/booker/web master/trailer designer phenom. I haven’t written the exact job description yet but you get the point. I would spend to be free of some of the many technical and non-writing business tasks that a) I don’t enjoy and b) I’m not that good at anyway. Funny how I stuck with indulging in writing related expenditures. I didn’t realize that’s where this blog was going. A better daughter would put buying her parents a house in a place she could visit them in the winter without freezing to death as number one. A better parent of a Labrador retriever would be hiring contractors to build a dog friendly activity play zone in a huge back yard. A better girlfriend would be on her way to Victoria’s Secret. Nope. I’m looking for a dogsbody with serious skills and a slavish devotion to all the things I don’t want to do.

Number two on my all about me lotto spree is the ultimate writing retreat. It’s a grown up version of a playhouse. In my mind’s eye, it looks like an English gingerbread cottage. I used to imagine it would be a gazebo and then I lost the romantic notion of shivering and fighting sideways rain during February. It’s close enough to walk to from wherever I’m living which seems to matter less than the environment in which I am creating. The one-room with woodstove retreat has comfortable chairs, a pedestal table with chairs and super fast WiFi. For reasons that elude me, I can see a loom in one corner. That must be for ascetic reasons. Naturally, there’s a bathroom with a steam shower and a Jacuzzi tub. I may not spend my millions on a kitchen I consider ornamental, but I’m big on the hydro-comforts. And it’s not like I can’t afford them with my win.

I’d spend more of the money going places, taking classes and living life. All of which would make it into new stories, both fiction and non-fiction, and new writing challenges. I’ll have to ask that new tax accountant how much of this dream is deductible.

P.S.
In 1921, according to his tax returns, F. Scott Fitzgerald earned $24,000. He published This Side of Paradise a year earlier. On a relative basis, he maintained or exceeded that income until his death in 1940. Today’s equivalent of his earnings from that year? $500,0000. The tax rate at that time was 5% so many more of those sawbucks stayed close to home. After hitting the literary lotto in 1921, Fitzgerald went on to write four more novels, more than a hundred short stories and contributed to numerous Hollywood scripts, including Gone With the Wind. Apparently he didn’t write for the money, either.
Thanks for reading.

Gabi

18 comments:

Maribeth said...

Looking at your spending spree, it's a safe bet you're not in this for the money and your dream won't go a way any time soon.
Good for you!

Maribeth
Giggles and Guns

Michael Wiley said...

I like the loom in your writer's retreat, Gabi. It's at once mythic, historical, and -- in the present day and age -- fairly useless. A perfect object upon which to muse.

Great post.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Have you already named your dogsbody? I find it helped me.

I love the idea of the writing room complete with Jacuzzi and loom. We writers just don't have enough looms, I always say.

May your Jacuzzi never run cold and your loom gather no dust!

Thanks for another fun post!

Gabi said...

Maribeth,
I'm fairly sure there's no innoculation available for this writing infection. Thanks for stopping by and risking catching the bug.

Gabi said...

Michael,
Mythic, historical and fairly useless (totally unlike sex), more like my teddy bear but I'm not giving him up either.

Gabi said...

Rebecca,

And may your Kevin have a fiber arts masters degreed twin brother with high thread count towels (which I have changed to bath sheets in this evolution).

Meredith Cole said...

I like your English cottage. Looks perfect for getting some writing done (and I'm sure comes complete with air conditioning and central heating). Feels right that we writers are indulging in these lotto fantasies since we already won the greatest lottery of them all--getting published.

Shane Gericke said...

Hell with publishing. I want to hear more about your trip to Victoria's Secret ...

Gabi said...

Meredith,
My cottage aesthetic belies all the interior creature comforts, that's true. As for already winning the lotto, I think I'm in the Gordon Gecko 'greed is good' category.

Gabi said...

Shane,
You will have to buy a girl a drink first...

Sophie Littlefield said...

oh gabi i loved the picture of your writers retreat....as for me, i think my ideal retreat would be a grimy one-room in new york with a hot plate and people screaming in rooms above....rusty water and indifferent electricity...oh, i could write there oh yes i could...

Gabi said...

Sophie,
I can see you cranking out another brilliant Stella in the Honeymooners' old apartment.

Jen Forbus said...

Gabi, some days I read what you blog and am totally convinced we were separated at birth. However, if I won the lottery, I'd definitely quit the day job so I could do more with my blog. Oh the trouble I could get into if I didn't have that job holding me hostage! ;-)

Shane Gericke said...

LOVE your idea of the retreat. Is it a loom with a view?

My retreat looks like an old brick cottage with those really loooong slate roofs that reach practically to the ground. But new construction, and walls eighteen inches thick, made of granite, so the house will stand forever. And a big ol' desk for my Mac Pro with 90-inch screen ... writing AND videos on demand ...

Long as we're dreaming and all.

Oh, and I can so totally buy that drink, with or without parasol :-)

Kelli Stanley said...

Wow, Gabi--I love your writer's retreat! You mean we can dream about more than just a corner of a dusty room and a desk with a bottle of whiskey (or Scotch, in Soph's case) on top??

And oh, how a Jacuzzi would ease those aching muscles from typing all day ... ;)

xoxo

Gabi said...

Jen,
I know it's weird but I sometimes think if I saw you in the grocery store, I would know it was you and we could catch up like grade school friends over pomegranates and star fruit. I'm loving your writers caught reading series.

Gabi said...

Shane,
What girl doesn't want the parasol?

Gabi said...

Kelli,
The Jacuzzi is non-negotiable and the bigger the dream, the better (and the closer you are to getting it in one of those Murphy's Laws kind of ways).