Forgive me for the seemingly bland response to funds I could use to buy my family a pancake breakfast. Or a pack of smokes. Or a nice bottle. Seriously though; I'm even depressing myself at how I'm portraying the importance....
How is it then I stood in a local grocer's with the remaining proceeds of said royalty check in hand and not knowing what I should spend it on?
Rewind. Flip it. Reverse it. Cassette on play.
The check in question was the FIRST I've received from Lulu.com. The first I've received for selling hardcovers. Y'know how hard that is while I was schlepping books via Kindle or NOOK at the same time? When the market was solely focused on devices that turned readers into 'what can I get for free' assholes instead of people who appreciated books?
Where it came to be expected that the first book was gratis, because gawd-hep-you if you could actually write in ways people could read without a little bitty-screen helping them along. Or you could afford an editor...or proofreader...
Yeah, I doubt anyone from that time-frame read ALL THE BOOKS they got for free. Fuck-you-very-much.
However, I remember one fan (now my #1 Super-Fan) who'd been there when I was trying to shill newsletters/copybooks based on sci-fi humor and a Xerox machine in love. They bought my first ever hardcover of T.A.Y.S. That made it stick for me. I was a 'Paid Author'.
What the fuck was I thinking?
(tone, when asking that, matters)
I got this parcel in the post that was ripped open. My first book sale I didn't pay for, and looking for me to put my name on a second time. Thanking luck that the book was in one piece - unscathed, like - I signed that bugger and stuck it back into the process with a box I had on-hand and much more secure reinforcement. Fuck UBER; I made a cardboard-and-bubble-wrap tank for that achievement to go home in. Yeah, man!
Fast Forward to that point where I'm a :
Family Man with Responsibilities
and I have:
Important Daily Concerns.
I run a sale trying to hawk enough books to make my bread and succeed. I get a slip of paper in the mail 60 days later saying I'm in the money, finally. I made the minimum for the yahoos at Lulu to cut me a check.
"$21.50," it reads. OK, somewhere in that is the first dollar I made as a writer. I gotta' get it out. I gotta' see it. Hello, local grocer's Service Desk. Hello buttons. Hello...cash-in-hand. I stand there numb. Unreasoning. Seeking a clue.
Oh dear, I think. What shall I do with this?
It has been 7 years (or so) since I released T.A.Y.S. into the world and hoped for great things like very other Self-Published Author.
7 YEARS LATER I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SPEND THE MONEY ON.
Yeah, it's a trifle. Yet, I've come to appreciate what stretching a dollar can do for a family. Even more so when you're making a buck selling words on a page. I've come to know responsibility and the sheer contrast one finds when it's not money, but other items of importance you needed. We'll all be there at one point in life or another. It'll dawn on us.
Here's me, taking it all in. This small hand-full of green pieces of paper has importance, but that importance escapes me for the moment.
Do I buy milk and bread? Do I buy a case of beer? Do I splurge on a bottle of The Good Stuff? Do I drop dollars on a rolly or six? Do I focus on Family Needs?
Only one dollar is important; not because of what it can buy. Only one is needed. Medically.
That fucker's getting framed. Right along with the stub what borne it.
In the end the rest is inconsequential. I could buy a dime bag, and it wouldn't matter. However, the love of all those that cared to give me a chance to make them laugh, cry, and dream hangs on that slip of green paper with a 'One' on.
Waited seven years for that 'one buck'. I've come to terms with the rest, but that ONE won't get spent. Just like what graces the wall of an Asian restaurant. Look, fuckers, someone believed this was important.
It was the first. It has its importance.