Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's All Going Down, So Grab a Big Honkin Toblerone

I am trying not to give in to bitterness and rage over the prospect of my friends and family either losing their jobs or being worked to death. (If that sounds like exaggeration, after the last newspaper layoffs I made it through, I ended up with 12-hour shifts, and no additional money, none, none, none. Someone I worked with crashed her car, probably because she hadn't slept in days. They laid off near 2/3 of the staff and added eight editions. I also once got laid off while I was still recovering from a c-section, but I was eventually hired back. So I have earned my trauma.)

I am trying not to punch the wall over the prospect that now that I finally have time to write, the publishing industry tanks. I am trying not to hear my father's voice in the continual communication that all I love to do is valueless.

I am trying not to waste my fury on the humans who traded my daughter's future for cocktails and handbags. It's not the first time that island has been the scene of such a monstrous mortgage.

I spent much of the Solstice face down in bed, with a candle lit, trying to see if there is a crack in the wall, and I saw it in, of all places, the Sunday newspapers. Which tell me that those "in charge," the "experts" are lost. "We have no playbook," they say. "We don't know what anything is worth anymore." "We don't know how to value anything." "We just have to wait to see how far it goes." "No one knows how far it will go." "No one knows what anything is worth."

Their ignorance widens the crack until it becomes a window into which I can wedge my will, like that slice of sun that comes through the stones on the darkest day. So, men, if you don't know what's worth anything, I'm happy to tell you. The only things worth a damn are art and beauty, love and magic, sex and pleasure, talk and spirit, health and laughter, the earth and her creatures. That's my ecomony, I am the expert, I set the interest rate, and I live a luxurious life within my means, and nothing else matters.

That's it. I'm over the edge. We're living on crazy old lady time. It's my world now.

So I'm going to start a poetry reading series, if the brave people who offer a venue stick with it; I won't be reading, I'll just be presenting others and doing open mike. And if they don't, I'll find a place. And I'll keep writing, because it's worth millions. Mr. Boog in Salon seems to think so, as long as I can repurpose my format to fit the times. But alas:

"There were hedge fund guys with no background in publishing buying up publishing houses," says André Schiffrin, founder of the New Press and author of "The Business of Books: How the International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read." He explains that corporate owners of major publishing houses expected impossible 15 to 20 percent profit margins in an industry with traditional margins of 3 to 4 percent. "They were part of that whole feeling that you could make money by buying and selling companies, rather than by selling books. At some point it comes to a dead end."

Wow, that's the same exact thing that happened to newspapers! Gee.

Anyone want to serialize my detective novel for iPhone consumption? Come on, I've already proven my willingness to give away the good thing for far less than minimum wage many times over; give it a try.

Photo: Santa strawberries, from the UK Inspired by Chocolate and Cakes blog. She's a genius.

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