Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Have a New Job!

No, I'm not working in a theatre again, and I didn't get any jobs with a church (except for filling in for our administrator when she's on holidays, but I was doing that before...).

I skipped the painful submit-a-resume-wait-for-a-call-and-maybe-get-an-interview-but-I'll-never-hear-back-again type of job hunting, and instead applied to our local newspaper to be a...

Paper carrier type person!

Yes, Ruth the paper girl is back. My first run as a paper girl was at the age of ten, my second was about fifteen or more years back, and I'm at it again.

I admit that I need the extra money, but to be honest, I could earn more (a LOT more) flipping burgers for an hour at the local grease joint. I get $0.13 per paper delivered, and my three routes have a grand total of 36 papers. Which is $4.68 per day, and it takes about an hour to deliver. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I also deliver our local free paper plus flyers (way more flyers than paper!). They pay .02 per paper & 1 flyer pack on Tuesdays, and .025 on Thursdays, and an extra .02 per flyer pack above the first. On Thursdays, I've had an average of 3 flyer packs. So each of my 36 deliveries nets me an extra 8.5 cents each per week, for a total payday of 32.94 per week.

Not exactly big money, especially since I use my car to do it and probably spend between five and ten dollars on gas.

Still, it's a really good deal for me.

First off, when I started two weeks ago, I was suffering from back pain so bad that I had to take a fairly expensive OTC medication twice per day in order to remain functional. Within a week, I was down to extra strength Tylenol, and now I'm down to nothing most days. Savings, about $25 per week, plus my liver.

Second, my autistic son accompanies me most days. In fact, I got the route because it was something we could do together that would get us out of the house. I investigated volunteering at our local Re-Store, but they really didn't have anything suitable for us to do. But Robin likes to walk, so the paper route was perfect. The cost of having someone else do something like this with him varies from $10 to $25 an hour. Even on the cheap side, we're saving $50 a week.

Third, I'm out walking every day for most of that hour. According to today's paper (which is another bonus -- one of those papers I get paid to deliver is mine, and it's free!), that will add another 10 or so healthy years to my life. How do I calculate the value of that, I ask you?

And I used to pay about $35 a month for a gym membership I never used, because it was so inconvenient. The paper routes I deliver are a lot closer to my home, and because I've signed a contract, I *have* to do the exercise every day, rain or shine, sick or well, grumpy or happy.

And for the most part, I've been happy. Exercise releases natural endorphins, that help dull pain and decrease depression. I also have met several of my customers, all of whom are friendly and generally cheerful.

One customer I talked to yesterday is eighty years old, and still goes snowshoeing! That's what I want to be like when I'm eighty, and having a daily paper route is a step in the right direction.

A common suggestion of get-out-of-debt books is to take a second job. What most of them don't say is that when you look for a second job, it's always good to think outside the box. Instead of looking for another eight-hour-a-day grind in a factory, try something a little lower class, but with more benefits.

Working in a theatre gave me the chance to see a lot of first run movies for free.

Working at McDonald's gave me more than I wanted of employee-discounted junk food.

Working at Chapters over the Christmas rush last year gave me an employee discount on books, just in time to buy gifts for my family of avid readers.

Now I've got a free paper and an exercise plan -- and they're paying me for it!

Think about where you spend your money, or what activities you enjoy doing, and look to those things for a second job, or a retirement income, or even your primary income! Sometimes, the benefits are worth the lower pay. Don't let anyone tell you that a particular job is too "low life," or "beneath your notice," or "just for kids." Only you can decide the true worth of a job to you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaNo Post Mortem

So it's over. Thirty days, fifty thousand words, all done. What next?

Well, first off, the plan outlined in an earlier post actually worked like a charm! I made it all the way through November, and I wrote every single day, and I wasn't sick once, and while I did eat out a few times, I ate breakfast every day at home, and almost all my lunches and suppers (as in over 90 percent of them) at home as well.

I did not gain thirty pounds pigging out on junk food. (I also didn't lose thirty pounds, but that wasn't in the plan...)

I actually have started getting daily exercise, because I signed on for three daily paper routes, and that started a week ago.

My ex walked in to the kitchen yesterday and did a double take at the uncluttered counter. He'd have really flipped out if he'd looked in the cupboards -- one more to go, then the kitchen is organized! And I worked on it during November.

The two major events I've been part of planning are almost done -- the one last week went very well, considering it was our first time. The one this coming Saturday is looking to be better than last year. We're almost all ready -- I have a list of stuff to do tomorrow and Saturday, but I'll still have a fair amount of free time to celebrate with my daughter and her friend, who also reached 50K.

And most importantly, I can envision myself continuing the process of daily writing until this year's novel is done. My plan is to then go back and finish my 2008 NaNo winner, which was abandoned in mid-December of that year. Then it's on to revision for both of them.

So what did I learn?

First off, I learned that when my space and my life are organized, I can be a tortise, and I learned that slow and steady really does win the race. I honestly thought I didn't have it in me to do something at an even pace over a long period. I thought I was doomed to be the hare all my life, and fall asleep or give up just short of the finish line. (Or else burn myself out with a last minute burst of speed that might or might not propel me to a win.)

Second, I learned that what the FLYLady says really is true: I can do anything, fifteen minutes at a time. That's how the novel got written, the dishes and laundry got done, the clutter got pitched, the papers got delivered, the bills got paid, the bed got made... Focus on one thing at a time, for fifteen minutes, and you can get a lot more done in a day than most people do in a week, because all too often our time is wasted wondering what to do next, instead of doing!

Three, I re-learned the power of companionship. I'm not one who likes to journey alone. I will if I have to, but the few times I've done that, I've phoned home every day. I need friends and family to journey with me. This year, I had the girls, I had a bunch of folks over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler, and one friend my age who I met through the NaNo forums. I cheered them on, they cheered me on. We warred with each other, spoke and wrote encouraging words, and the novels got writ. More of my NaNo buddies showed up as winners this year than in any previous year, and I gave out a lot of rep points at the Cooler, and received almost as many in turn.

I need my friends!

Together, these three learnings have given me back my hope. I've been writing since I was six years old. It's always been a part of me. But I don't think I ever really believed that I could become a professional, because of the lack of daily habits.

I now know that I can do it. So it's on to the next phase: actually doing it. Writing every day, revising what I write, having it critiqued and revising it again. And finally, submitting it to an agent or publisher, and dealing with all that comes from that process.

And I know that a prolonged absence from a writing community is not a good idea for me. So I'll keep in touch with the folks from the Cooler, and I'll keep writing, and one day you WILL see my name on the bestseller list!

Happy writing!