Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Daft Idea

Yesterday I was informed that my single course has been reassigned.  I don't think this was due to being an inadequate teacher.  Times are tough and senior/full time staff have first dibs.  My course leader wants to keep me "active" in the sense that if courses are available this summer, he will hire me.

Still, I'm in a desperate situation, made more desperate after a very frank cards-on-the-table talk with my brother last night.  His advice, which is intensely sensible, is to find as high-paying a job as I can and stick it out for two years to pay off all debt and then resume my writing career.  This would include voiding the contract for my current book, the manuscript of which requires me to write three pages a day in order to turn it in by its due date of June 15th.  The first thing I would have to do is pay back the advance.

This is a problem.  I need that third book, Sex and the Pity, which will be more PG than R-rated, because Angry Fat Girls (soon to be released in paperback under the title Eating Ice Cream with My Dog) did not do well.  I must redeem myself as quickly as possible in the cut-throat world of publishing.  That's a reality I don't expect someone outside the business to understand.

And besides, what would I do?  My computer skills have always been limited and I'm afraid they are positively outdated at this point. 

So I began to consider my skills.

  1. Pam Peeke recently wrote, "Your words are so amazing Frances.  I know no one who can capture feelings the way you do."  And I have to say I'd along with that insofar as I do a really good job of writing about feelings.
  2. I'm a good writer in general.
  3. I bake great cookies.
  4. I speak Dog.
  5. I can relapse like nobody's business.
  6. I can lose weight.
  7. I can hang on through nightmare depressions.
  8. I have the ability and willingness to be an open book.
  9. I'm a good teacher.
  10. I'm a good editor, from line-editing (thanks to 20 years of teaching composition) to rearranging the parts of a book to finding the idea for a book in the first place.
  11. I have a certain amount of wisdom, humor, intelligence, imagination, compassion, empathy.  I spin back what people tell me in ways that they appreciate and can use.
  12. I buy nearly perfect gifts.
  13. I have good taste in clothes.
  14. I take good photos.
  15. I'm a good researcher.
  16. I've read a lot.
That's an incomplete but decent and random list of what I can do.

I placed a Craig's List ad this morning offering tutorial services.  I'm reopening shop as a writing coach, which I'm very good at.

I'll pick up more dog gigs.

I'll put up signs around the neighborhood for tutoring and dog-walking (on different tear sheets, of course).

But Pam's words and my balls-to-the-wind confessionals began circling in my head as I was dashed out to pick up dog food.

What if...

What if I attack relapse, weight loss, depression, job hunting, the writing process and the odd dog in a closed media.  What if I get abstinent and write about it in a way that will help readers feel what I have always wanted to say: you're not crazy and you're not the only one

I am not dogmatic about how anyone should lose weight unless it's clearly insane.  I understand as well as anyone that weight loss is not simple -- I have to combine it with all of the above and other women have yet more complications in their lives.

I have read a lot on the subject and know a number of experts.  I could interview people.

I could create a closed blog in which, with the newsletter subscription, readers can ask me questions, criticize my lack of exercise and gloomy outlook, request more attention paid to whatever topic or aspect they want, and talk to each other.

I would do this as an email newsletter -- daily? three times a week? -- by paid subscription.  If someone wants to receive the newsletter and can't pay, she can refer one? two? subscribers and receive a free subscription/password.

Hell, I'll even try to figure out a way to give readers 10% off either Ice Cream or Sex and the Pity.

So what do you think?  Really: is this a good idea?  If so, how often would readers want such a newsletter and how much should I charge?  Is there anything else missing from what I could write about that would be of use to people (women, really) trying to lose weight or lose weight again?

Please, please: respond!

I think it would be fun.