I believe that the family member trying to keep an eye on her business has both our interests at heart and I'm sorry that she's caught in a mangle of unrealistic expectations on the one hand, and my orthodoxy regarding the original agreement on the other.
But I just came back from walking Daisy after spending five and a half hours tracking down every glimmer of interest in one of my social media client's book and making a list, nearly comprehensive, of the websites I use as sources for my work for her. Last night I spent 90 minutes explaining what and I why I do what I do. I don't know how many times I've run through that litany but I do know that, in the nearly three months I've been charging her for the four and a half months I've been working for her, this is the fourth time she has wanted to renegotiate the fee I put in the work to earn.
And I know very well that she expects the same work for half the money.
I'm leaving for Montana on Wednesday. I need to do laundry. I have no food in the house and I have prescriptions to pick up. I have other media clients and my own sorely neglected social media and writing to attend to. There is some cleaning I want done in the Bat Cave. I'd like to pay a credit card and figure out my trip to the Festival of the Book in Missoula in October but I can't because I don't know how much money I'll make this month, or won't until tonight or tomorrow. I'm pissed as hell and I ache. I'm hungry and don't want to go to the market. I want to hide but I want a friend. I want to spit and hiss.
I ache from sitting still in front of emails, Hoot Suite, book marks for so long. I know I have done a good job and I know I can't make a best seller on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook. If I could, I would have done it for myself. I have been honest about that since we met in March. I have told her that my job is to get the word out and fashion a persona. I have offered to do more but have not had cooperation. When she has asked me to do more and I've double-checked my information, I've been met with sarcasm.
But I need this money.
And this client wants to write like me.
That's a very poisonous basis for any relationship.
I haven't worked for The Man since I was a literary agent. I don't count adjunct teaching as working for The Man because aside from some simple rules, I was free to do what I wanted. I've now been doing social media for 19 months and until this, it's been amiable and smooth sailing. I'm learning how to speak up for myself when I'm asked too much or blamed without information, but this has been with someone rational. I feel like I'm back in the literary trenches again, working against someone determined at once to like me and demonize my professional performance.
With each re-negotiation except for one, I've kept a cool head, not giving into tears or sarcasm or anger. I've stuck to my original thesis: let's make this book earn out so you can capitalize on it. I send daily updates of my work. I forward important possible opportunities. I'm stolid and steady.
But I gotta tell you, peeps: I'm fucking miserable here! Everything I do for this client is fraught with whether it's good enough, whether she'll like me that day or ignore me or deride me. I would KILL for the income to get out of this goddammed situation. I would love to tell her I was quitting -- and in language that would make Freud blush.
One of the things I hate most in life is justifying myself. It sounds shrill and pathetic in my ears. It makes me question myself, immediately handing over power to my inquisitor. I end up being the whipping girl and I feel like I'm walking on March ice.
When I picked up Daisy, the other dog waiting for us began to screech. I call him Kreacher because he's like Sirius Black's house elf who was so foul to people. He's actually a fabulous dog, part Chihuahua and suffering from Little Man complex. Some guy across the street yelled down from his window to make the dog shut up.
HE is the one I'd like to go after, since I have to swallow my fear and singled-out-ness on the other front. If I could have gotten a look at him -- if he'd leaned out his window and made himself known -- I'd have yelled back, "Dogs bark. I don't like it either but I can't stop it. Do you scream at babies crying or kids throwing tantrums? I'll bet not. So take it. It's life, you jerk. Live with it."
But the ass didn't make himself visible. He made himself another voice in my head saying, "You don't do it good enough."
And I'm sick of that voice. I'm sick of the fact that I've done what I can do to explain myself AGAIN to people who really only want a miracle of book sales and not one word else. I'm sick of absorbing it all as being a fault of character or intelligence. I'm sick of people deciding I've represented myself as a king maker when to know me is to know that's about the last thing I would claim.
And I can't teach anyone to write like me. Who'd want to? I don't make much money. The people I went to graduate school with will probably be in English classes in 2114. Anyone who doesn't like me, REALLY hates me because I expose too much. I am doomed to misunderstanding.
What I have going for me is a talent for similes, humor, being unafraid to hang it on the line. I get fired for writing blogs like this but sometimes the bullshit reaches critical mass and I don't have anyone to turn to today and be consoled (let alone fed mild amounts of alcohol) by. I can't teach that. To be in proximity of someone who thinks they can get it from me feels like one of those vampires who doesn't go in for the final kill.
As if a fifth round of financial recompense didn't already feel like that.
I think I'll go query the doorman across the street to find out who the dog sniper is.
I hope my client doesn't find this post.
Inspired by an exchange with a forensic psychologist who was kind enough to email me with his unsolicited advice on how I should change my writing style...