shifting

money tree

I have just been hired by the independent bookstore down the street where  I will be supervising and organizing author events.  I get to fondle, sniff, and chat about books all day. I’ll meet authors and help them sell books. I can even ride my bike to work.

If one of my kids gets sick at school, I think I’ll be able to duck out to take them home and tuck them in on the couch with the remote, a big glass of water, and  bowl to barf in. I won’t be able to stay with them, though, and during summer vacation, they’ll have to fend for themselves most of the time; no more play-dates after school and  no more time scheduled to write.  But hey, I’ll get paid instead.

Because I’m an adult and my kids are not babies anymore, right?  And of course, it is important for a woman to set a professional example, especially for young girls who will grow up and have careers themselves one day.  And truthfully, my writing never counted. I mean it did not count monetarily, it was not worthwhile in the sense that it did not make money, which is really how we evaluate things. The writing wasn’t real in most people’s minds. Friends often forgot that I wrote — to them, it was just a hobby.  My daughters never saw hard-cover proof of what I was doing while they were at school and after the hope of me getting paid to write diminished, my husband didn’t even want to hear about writing anymore.  He was tired of being the only breadwinner.

Because people work for paychecks.  That’s just what modern day grown-ups do.

So I did it: I have a full-time job. I already like the people I work with and I’m excited to help sell books. I will take all my avid, burning desire to write and use it to help other writers sell their books so they can keep writing.  I am participating in an artistic endeavor in which I truly believe and I can say without equivocation that am the ideal person for this job.

Is this what you call a happy ending?

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About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.

74 comments

  1. Exciting, Anna! It sounds like a really wonderful job for you. I’m so glad you found it. My only quibble is that your writing hasn’t mattered. I don’t believe that, and at the very least, the writing you’ve done on your blog has mattered to me, for what it’s worth. What’s more, I think working in a bookstore should be great fodder for more work. 🙂 Congrats again!

    • Thank you Leah and yes, you’re right, it is a good opportunity. I meant mattered in the money sense– some writers do manage to make a living– you look like you could be one of them!

  2. macdougalstreetbaby

    I hope so, Anna. I really hope so.

  3. Ros

    This is very very exciting news – so happy for you. Not just a happy ending but the start of a whole new thing xoxoxo

  4. Anna, These things always work out in a manner you would least expect. Already I can see an opportunity for you, that being the establishment of another network of “professional friends.” You proabably have already established a network of that type but another one would not hurt. You never know when someone will meet you or read you through the network and “viola”, you are published. I think this is a great move for both your family and yourself.
    Best of luck with this new opportunity,
    Wally

    • Wally, you always manage to say just the right thing. How do you do that? xoox

      • I say it because only rarely has it not worked out for me that way.
        It is my opinion that you are diligent, have perserverance and integrity. Those are qualities that others look for when dealing with others.
        Someone is going to see your writing and when dealing with you will realize you are not attempting to be a diva; you just want people to read your work. It will happen.

  5. You can keep writing AND you can help that lost kid find the book just for them AND you can meet authors – personally, I think it seems like a dream job. Writing finds its way in at the margins.

  6. Congratulations on landing a full-time job in a bookstore down the street! That seems pretty amazing. And it’s not like your writing has to end just because you’re working… it also doesn’t mean your writing doesn’t matter if you haven’t yet been published in a big way or making money from it. Think of what you’d be showing your kids by continuing to pursue that dream even around work.

    Good luck at the new job!

    • I’m grateful to all you writer-workers who are chiming in here– it is very reassuring to know it can be done. And yes, it’s time for my kids to see mommy doing some new tricks. (It is amazing. Only 8 short blocks away.)

  7. It’s not an ending at all. It’s a new beginning. And I agree that your writing has counted and will always count, because that’s what real writers do: keep writing even when it doesn’t result in a paycheck. So congratulations, and don’t stop writing! xo

  8. Wally’s right. You’re not seeing the possibilities. This could lead absolutely anywhere.
    And it’s not like you won’t keep writing. Writers write. It’s only the When that’s changed. And even that may yet be the catalyst for something great. For starters, I’m willing to bet you’ll find yourself in a great writing critique group by the end of the year.

    Your question was “Is this what you call a happy ending?”
    It’s not an ending, but a beginning.
    Writers write. It doesn’t end.

    I see a story. A book. Hardcover. A woman, a lover of words, writes and writes and writes, but not enough of the world takes enough notice. Not yet anyway… Forced to give up on her dream, she gets a job at the local bookstore… what I see of the story grows fuzzy here… that’s because it’s not my story… but I see all sorts of possibilities for a wonderful ending. See them?

    Be happy Anna. You just found a brilliant way forward into your story.

    • Thanks, Harry. This is the last manic rant before the anesthetic kicks in. I’m sure when I regain consciousness, I’ll be a whole new woman. And your story made me cry just a little, in a good way, a hopeful way. xoox

  9. Todd

    Damn! That’s is the perfect job for you. Did you answer an ad or invent it? Thank god you didn’t report back that you landed a night shift at the 7-11. Ending? You’re not gonna abandon this blog?! You can squeeze out a few minutes here and there… I know you will… you won’t be able to stop writing… ha, ha, quit writing, what a joke. CONGRATULATIONS!

    • (Todd! I’ve been wondering about you. xo to you guys.)
      This job met me halfway. When I ran out of job listings that felt doable, I walked down the street to the cool bookstore with a resume in my hand. Before I could even call to follow up, they emailed me with this position that had just magically opened up. And no, I’d never abandon writing, but it used to happen from 9-1 while the girls were in school because that’s the only place it fit. Next week, I’m scheduled to work 47 hours, with only one day off. So I guess we’ll see. I’m still optimistic.
      xoox

      • Todd

        Hi Anna, I hope your new gig is happening for you. I’m so proud of you! (can I do that?)

        I think I may be an asshole, please advise…

        I keep encouraging (and bugging) my wife to drop off resume’s at banks looking for a teller job. She want’s to try that and they have benefits for full time. I have done her resume and filled out job applications and made lists, etc. But she keeps finding reasons (excuses?) to put it off. She dropped off a total of 5 about a month ago. She was going to pick it up again tomorrow but put it off again. I got pissed and threw some blankets on the couch, where I’m about to bed down for the night. I feel like she’s gotten used to her domestic life and doesn’t really want to try. I feel like switching from the carrot to the stick (figuratively) but maybe I’m not appreciating enough the job she does at home. Every girlfriend I’ve had (since antebellum days anyway) has worked a job and almost every woman in my extended family has worked too, so I just expect it.

        Am I pushing her too hard? From what you’ve mentioned, it sounds like maybe your man had given you some grief on this subject too… so maybe you have a perspective on it. I know you must be slammed for time now, but if you can, please channel your inner Anne Landers and splash a few of your cool thoughts on my smoldering snit.

        Thanks chum.

        Todd

        • Todd–

          I could feel your hunger to have her working in your first comment to me, Todd– on my “resume.” I am no Ann Landers at all, so take anything I say with lots of salt. John and I both agreed that it would be good for me to be at home for the kids. Time passed and that did not seem quite as necessary. Then he got laid off, so we both shifted into gear to find something fast. He’s still looking but I’m ft. We’ll be okay, I think, but it’s a mysterious process, and we’ll have to reconnoiter many times to figure out what’s really happening.

          The thing is, we talked about this every step of the way. When I got pregnant with our first child, we both agreed what we’d do. Then with the second, we talked and talked and agreed again on a plan. We put it all out on the table to hash over ever step of the way.

          It sounds like you two never talked about your expectations. ? It sounds like you haven’t really been truthful with one another about what is happening. ? Not talking can mess you up in the long run. What does she want? What do you want? What does your son need, what does your system require, and how can you both contribute and be happy?

          You’ll both have to shift a bit to make it happen. Our kids went to preschool 3 half-days a week at 3 years old, 4 at 4, then kindergarden freed up half the day. We both felt that someone should be there, him or me, for the rest of the time, but lots of people have different expectations and comfort zones.

          The way you tell the story, it sounds like she is not ready to leave your son with a stranger. Or maybe that’s just your fears/interpretation, we don’t know for sure. You have to sit down and get real with each other. Remember, you guys are on the same team.
          xoox

          • My email is anna@girlinthehat.com if you want to “talk.” This seems like a personal conversation.

            • Todd

              Anna,
              Thanks for taking the time, and for your well thought out advice. Yes, you’re right, we really need to more formally talk it all out and be very clear. That is the issue, we don’t talk enough. Same as you, we also had decided it would be better for her to be home for the first years. But now he’s in pre-school so time to “shift”.
              We made up and she did hit the streets again, Now we need to sit down. THANKS! I’ll use the email next time..
              Todd

  10. Here’s my eloquent comment: “What they said.” Okay, I’ll add that you don’t have to give up your dream, instead you’ll be getting paid to think and talk about writing all day. The only downside is that you’ll have to fit your writing into exhausted evenings and busy weekends, same as I try to. Hell, I’m totally jealous that you even have an independent bookstore within easy biking distance. I have liked my job for the most part, but I hate it lately, and would love to do anything in the world of reading and writing for a living. I’d say congratulations are very much in order, Anna. Good for you, very good for you.

    • Thank you, Kevin. It is a dream job, for sure. And you’re absolutely right, most writers have day jobs. (Did I mention I work nights and weekends?) This is me pissing and moaning for a second. Damn, it’s hard to be a grown up, isn’t it? I mean I can afford to buy one of each kind of candy in the candy store but adults can’t eat candy, can we, and all we really want is the things money can’t buy. xo

  11. elma

    Congratulations! I’m really happy to hear that!
    Why not as I have told you.All are possible and therefore consider and expect only positive answers! Just be patience. Now you need to think positively think about your writing that I love!
    Félécitations.

  12. If one had to have a paying job, I guess this could be a lovely one. Your words have a little sadness in them, though. I think it might be as other people have suggested; an opportunity for your own writing.
    Congrats and well wishes, Anna!

  13. Congratulations! You really ARE the perfect person for the job!

    But if you think your writing never counted or that you won’t be scheduling time to write anymore, think again on both counts. You’ll find time to write and you’ll have all kinds of inspiration for your own work. And you’ll be even more deeply involved in this world we all love, the world of books. As others have said, this is a beautiful beginning. I can’t wait to see where you go from here.

    XO

  14. A dream job, sounds like. But you speak as if the writing is over. I hope that doesn’t happen. You write too well for that. Sneak in an hour a day. 30 minutes. Something to keep in touch with your muse.

  15. I think you’ll be surprised how much this experience will spur your writing. More to sink into when you sashay out into the world.

  16. Ya, and I hope you keep writing because it matters to your soul. You are a gifted writer, baby.
    Congratulations on the new job. How perfect! Books! You love books!!!!

  17. You’ll figure out your new writing schedule. And you’ll still be a mom and much needed, even if you don’t hold their hand while they fill the bowl. Plus, you will now be exposed to a lot of contacts and resources, though I imagine you’ll have to tread softly and professionally so boundaries aren’t blurred between employee and writer. This isn’t a beginning or ending, it’s just a transition from one stage of your writing career to another. And think about this: all the searching for a job you did, and not finding one was so you could find this one that allows you to run home with your kids, and get exercise on your way to work, and talk books and writing all day. Plus gives your kids and you both a taste of independence. My son is seventeen and arranged to spend two nights a week with a friend in the city this year because my work schedule made transportation difficult. I felt I’d failed as a parent because I couldn’t provide for those two days, and then realized I also didn’t like having him away from home. It was a sign of times to come and a good learning experience for both of us. Still don’t like it though…

    • Thank you for these kind and gentle words, Lisa. I guess it’s like moving from juggling 5 balls to juggling 6. There will be a period of time when one or more balls falls to the floor but soon, I’ll figure it out. And yes, when one of those balls is your child, the paragraph always has to end with a wistful ellipsis. But we’re grown-up jugglers and we can handle all the emotions. Thanks again.

  18. “Because people work for paychecks. That’s just what modern day grown-ups do.” It seems this is what westerners are inclined to do, but there are cultures throughout the world that haven’t lost a sense for what it means to live. Congratulations on finding your niche.

    • I want to live, Andrew! And I also want to live here, in Berkeley, CA. This is going to take some wiggling and wriggling but I think I can do it. We have some close friends who just rented their house out and moved to Indonesia — I can’t wait to hear how it’s going. I wonder where you are.

      • I have rooted myself in Germany. While people work for paychecks here too, I can’t help but feel a strong connection to tradition and culture — moreso than the Midwest, where I was born and raised. Can you imagine every store, including supermarkets, being closed on Sunday because it is a family day? Have you ever been to Europe? From what I can tell of your style of writing, you would like it here.

  19. Sounds brilliant but keep on writing, you never know whats round the corner x

  20. Congratulations Anna! I feel a bit worse now for being a bum and not helping with breadwinning 😐 But so happy for you! Your job sounds exciting, and I agree with everyone here……fodder for more writing!
    You do know I think you’re a brilliant writer, right? xoxo
    I do hope you continue to share your experiences on your blog. I’ll be waiting….

    • Munira! I was never, ever a bum and I’m sure you aren’t either. I’d work all day to make things work, to take care of everyone. Never feel like doing that isn’t worthy– it’s worth everything! xoox

  21. ” And truthfully, my writing never counted. I mean it did not count monetarily, it was not worthwhile in the sense that it did not make money, which is really how we evaluate things.”

    I think if you start thinking of your writing as a hobby that will be what it becomes.

    You are a professional writer who works in a book shop.

    I heard of a painter who used to dig roads, (he was in construction) and he said when he thought of painting as his hobby and construction as his full time work it depressed him. But he started introducing himself as a professional painter who occasionally did construction and it changed his entire approach.

    I think about this guy sometimes when i’m at working layout some rubbish. It does help.

  22. A dream job, with strings – summer holidays, sick children. But still, a dream job. And as has been said more eloquently above, of course you’ll still write. Your public demands it!

  23. inkspeare

    Congratulations and a big Hooray! Being amongst books – paradise!

  24. Will you still write to us here? Mike

  25. Congrats on the job! It sounds like a perfect fit. WHAT DO YOU MEAN? Your writing never counted, anyway? Maybe to some people. But hey, the moon doesn’t count either, to some people. Please don’t tell me you are going to abandon your blog. Ok, maybe not post as frequently or comment as often, but PLEASE, keep at it. You’re too good to lose.

  26. Yes, definitely don’t say your writing doesn’t count. I seldom (if ever?) comment, because I feel like I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say, but I always like reading what you write here. You have a lovely way with words. Work in the bookstore, and I hope it’s fun and interesting, but don’t stop writing. At least, don’t stop writing if you still enjoy it…

  27. I wouldn’t say a happy ending, rather, I’d view it as a new beginning….who knows where this road will lead. But that’s what makes it exciting. Congrats!

  28. A huge congratulations, Anna. I know this has been weighing on you, and now here you are, heading out into the world of books. An independent bookstore, no less. I wish you every pleasure it will bring to be around all those books and book-buyers. May you be inspired by it all …. xoxox.

  29. Anna, I’m so glad to hear that in having found a job, you found something connected to your passion. It really is a dream job in so many ways. But I also want to say, in the short time that I’ve known you, there is no doubt in my mind you are born to be a writer. Your words move me and live with me and change me. Whatever you do, I hope you keep writing as time permits, and that new opportunities open up to you in the world of books. *hugs*

  30. Good, good, good. The universe is giving you what you need, whether or not you can fully appreciate it right now. I’m wildly proud of you.

  31. “Rose King” is your erstwhile friend, Jody. I really do think this could be a great opportunity, but it doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the tug of how hard it is to give up some of your mothering. I’m not sure that I could’ve done it, which doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have. I should have. More power to you.

    • Jody, I can’t keep track of all your personas. You are one mysterious woman, aren’t you? (You are a woman, right? *wink*) And I think you may be right about the loosening of the grip– I don’t think my little one needs me half as much as I imagine. So far, so good.

  32. Hey how have you been? I just attended a writing covention. The fact you are still around books means
    you haven’t quit. If I had quit I could never look at another book again. Clearly you are positioning yourself.
    I consider all my jobs to be acessories to my writing – if you pursue writing it’s a tax write off – at least where
    I live. I seek positions that put me next to people I need to see, and hope for the best, but thats me. My uncle had a band for many years, never when’t anywhere. He quit because he was tired of it. Much of my life has
    been sunk into art and illistration – two decades of endless practice. People tell me I’m good but even I get
    tired. Ever think of playing with paint or clay – it’s messy and fun – and there is art in that to. I try to develop
    as many artistic skills as possable – part of me regreats that I didden’t become a mechanic – I’m good with things not people – but my brain hungers constantly, spinning out stories like cotton candy weather or not I
    choose to wright them down –

    That online publisher I was flirting with accepted. You can now read Enthralled if you want to. They thought Modle employee was too plain a title for the type of book it was so I changed the title to Enthralled. At 12,000
    words it’s a quick read, an audio version will be out soon. You can check my latest post if you are interested.

    Come what may I’ve read your book – and there met some characters I won’t soon forget. I remember the mysterous mae becon who stole the show – I still feel she is a fairy godmother of sorts. A shape-shifting muse. I remember your images of new orleans – I am intrigued by how someone from california (you don’t need to correct me if I’m wroung privacy and all that) could be so into New orleans. A city I take for granted.

    Ever experiment with childrin’s books? They can be short and sweet – some can be made in pamphlet form and dispenced as party favors.

    But then you should feel free to search for something you might like better – I would like seeing some art or photographs. or poetry – I find poems are not very demanding.

    Well it’s big world out there beyond the desk – there are so many other places you can travel.

  33. I just nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award, because I enjoy your posts. For details, click on this link:

    http://annkoplow.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/day-70-questions-and-answers-and-the-liebster-blog-award/

  34. Congrats! I can relate to this post very well (see my blog’s title, and also the fact that I too would love to work in a bookstore as a way to make money; blogging hasn’t gotten me far—so far)… The picture you chose is perfect. I like your blog.

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