Your writing will not save you. Managing to be published will not save you. Don’t be deluded. – Joyce Carol Oates
Every morning when I click on my email and see the daily offer from Groupon, I feel a little twinge. I may or may not read it. I may or may not know the business. But I definitely will not use it. I am heartsick over all the businesses that will not be saved by Groupon.
Your couponing will not save you.
This post is not about the relative merits or demerits of social couponing. Yes, I understand it is the latest big thing. It is the big thing that reminds me a lot of the last big thing. We have a remarkable capacity in this nation to make each other poor – and call it the next big thing. We have a remarkable capacity to demean and devalue each other, and degrade the decent work we all do. We might even call it progress. To want something for nothing, to take more and pay less, to come out ahead, as if we can stand taller on the cumulative loss from our cheap, daily deal making.
Don’t be deluded.
This treatise may be inspired by the bloodthirsty union-busting that passes as budget balancing in our statehouses, or the arrogant idiocy of the other side in Congress. Or it may have something to do with our income tax returns. My husband finished them last weekend, and in a sign of his unshakable goodness, he did not report that my net income last year had inched valiantly up, to the round number that is the very lowest of the low five-figures. He has, over these 16 years, made what amounts to a guaranteed, year-over-year, skyrocketing investment in my poverty.
Your writing will not save you.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not some big-timer. I am not like, say, Joyce Carol Oates, the Pulitzer Prize winner, author of bestselling books too numerous to count, collector of accolades too voluminous to mention, including several rumored Nobel Prizes, whose recent memoir from the abyss of her widowhood included the remarkable passage I quote above.
Managing to get anything will not save you.
At this point in my so-called life I feel like I did about a half-second after I got married, when I had a startling realization. Someone has to be the wife! And then a half-second after I gave birth: Someone has to be the mother! And now: Someone has to be the priest! Each of these revelations occurred after I’d made an avowed commitment to do something that I had no earthly idea how to do. That’s the way vows work: forever after, or they don’t work at all.
I’m going to have to be the priest. I’m going to have to want less, and take less, and give more, and be poor, except it doesn’t really feel that way, because I’m turning into a priest the way I turned into the wife and mother, not by managing it one way or the other, but just by being me.
So let me pronounce and testify:
I don’t need a coupon, and I will not use one.
I don’t need much from the market, but I need there to be a market.
I don’t need much food, but I need there to be food.
I don’t need much from writing, but I need there to be writers, readers, books, agents, editors, publishers, booksellers, libraries and yes, even Amazon will do.
I don’t need much from government, but I need there to be a government, and streets and safety and schools and weather reports and laws and common interest and public good.
I don’t need much, so you can take what you need.
I don’t need anything of yours.
I need you.
You’re so worth it.
To seal this vow, I have an offer you can’t refuse! Leave a comment and I will choose a winner to receive a brand-new copy of Hand Wash Cold, autographed by the impoverished author, with a crease on one back corner. Like all sellers, I have to buy my books from the publisher, and this one came with something extra so that I can’t, in good faith, sell it. (Good faith is how priests do things.) It is still worth the money you won’t have to pay. Winner drawn after my vacation ends next Saturday, April 16. Good luck and thank you from the bottom of my pocket.
Edited to add: The winner of this book is commenter #12, Rachael
photo © seaofclouds