While reading a book for review last night, with one hand first covering my left eye, then my right, then pausing to put in artificial tears, then trying again but having such awful vertigo from trying to read while my eyes didn't want to, I realized I need to gradually ease away from reviewing books. I'm not going to stop or even slow down right this minute; it's the only income I have, and while I check listings daily, there's little available in the way of placeholder jobs here in Ukiah, besides which I've already held several and was laid off from two within a month of each other. It's simply not my path at this point.
I pressed on last night, reading until it was close enough to bedtime that I could finally go into the bathroom and try to floss my teeth with vision so blurry the spaces between them were virtually indistinguishable. One of the last passages I'd read in the book, a travel memoir, was about the author's decision to give up a handful of dead-end teaching jobs to try and get a position writing for a newspaper targeting expatriates in Vietnam. He got the job and, while quick to qualify that his rate of pay was significantly lower than anything he'd EVER be paid in the states, it gave him ample funds to live on, pay rent, eat well, et cetera. That was twenty years ago, I realized, and for the most part, I still don't make that much money.
I came back out to the living room, toothbrush, still tucked in my cheek, and grabbed a pocket calculator. Within ninety seconds, I had a goal for myself. Here it is:
I want to write 1,000 words a day five days a week, and
I want to be paid a minimum of ten cents per word.
That's it. I'll be doing my regular work for the immediate short term, and trying to submit some creative things per a promise I made to myself to not be so chickenshit about everything, but this is the goal I'm going to consciously work toward. That's a modest income, but it would give me more stability than I've ever had in my life. I'm not joking. I think it's completely achievable, and that I do good enough work to make it worthwhile for anyone willing to hire me. This is where I want to go, and what I want to do. If you have suggestions I welcome them.