Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Advice of the Day

My advice of the day is...

Don't wear slippers while hanging curtain rods.

You see, during the winter months I play a game called "Musical Shoes". I have one pair of shoes I wear when I walk out the front door to go to the mailbox or run errands. I have a pair of muck boots I keep by the back door that I wear in the mud and manure within stalls, pens, and the paddock. These boots cannot get more than one foot inside the house or I will have a ton of carpet cleaning and mopping to do. I have a dry pair of sneakers I wear indoors when I work out on the exercise equipment, and the rest of the time indoors I wear slippers.

I have a brand new carpet in my photography studio that I do not want to stain, so I wore slippers while hanging the curtain rods. I stood on a lightweight fold-up card table chair and somehow, each time I attempted to either step up onto it or step down from it, I couldn't tell where my feet were in relation to the chair, and I'd get a foot caught in an awkward location. I blame it on the puffiness and fluffiness of the slippers.

Next thing I knew, I'd be losing my balance and falling into some expensive lighting equipment or my cloth backdrop, so in order to avoid breaking those items, I had to grab the nearest solid object, which was usually the wall. Apparently, on one of these falls, I sprained my wrist and have had a radiating throbbing pain up and down my left arm ever since.

This is not good, because my husband never healed from his sprained wrist that he acquired last summer. The emergency room took x-rays, but the doctor insisted it was just a sprain. He's thinking of getting a second opinion, because he's convinced a bone fragment is floating around in there. Anyway, this makes us a couple with only two arms. Together. Not each.

Also, on the same day that I injured myself, my son had someone run into the side of his knee while playing basketball. Both his basketball season and his track season have just barely started, and he's already injured. The same thing happened last year when he pulled a quad muscle. He has dreams of getting a pole vaulting scholarship, but now that's impossible. He can't run and jump with a bad knee. So, we've got to get him in for x-rays.

I'm not going to bother with doctors for my sprained wrist. I know it's just a sprain. I have so many nuts and bolts and metal plates in that arm that I don't think it can ever break again. Even it if did break, it would still stay together. I'm a bionic woman.

Of course, any time I get injured, I get bummed because at my age the recovery process is slow even for the smallest injuries. However, a couple of things happened that brightened my day. A while back I did a photo shoot of a friend with his horses for free and I posted the pictures on the Internet where he could access them. I guess his wife liked them enough that she made a little poster out of my photos and put it up at her place of employment with my business card. I was really happy to hear that news, mainly because you know that if your customers are happy enough with your work to help you advertise, then you are on the right track.

The other good news requires a little background. When I first moved to this area 22 years ago, I was fresh out of college and very much into writing poetry and short stories. I joined a group of poets that critiqued each others work every week. This group could be really hard on people when they wrote bad poetry, but I had received enough training while in college that I had a pretty strong grasp on what it took to write a good poem and how to critique poems written by others. So, they welcomed me into their group, made me a part of their family, and gave me more encouragement in my writing career than anyone could ever imagine.

There were a lot of quirky characters in that group and every single one of them had a great sense of humor. They played tricks on me and kept me laughing. One time I was in the hospital after having a benign tumor removed, and one of the guys bought me a poetry book with pictures of naked people on the cover. He gave it to a candy striper to hand-deliver to my room just for the shock value of it. He knew I'd get embarrassed having a stranger deliver pornographic images to me.

Some of the more prolific poets and I were in a fun competition with one another to see who could get their work published in a literary journal from each state of the union first. We kept maps of the United States on our walls and marked which states we had conquered. I remember that at the time there was only one journal in some state and it only published women's work, so one of the guys just used the initial of his first name and tried to portray himself as being a woman so that he could get published in that state.

I stayed with the group long enough to give poetry readings at a few of their memorials. But life eventually got the best of me and I had to work such long hours at my day job that I stopped writing poetry. A few more of my poet friends passed away while I was locked in my day labor prison.

There was one period of time when our finances were secure enough that I left my job to write. I sent a few poems out as feelers to see if I still had what it took to get published in a changing market. Before I could hear back from anyone, tragedy struck and I had to return to work to pay a huge hospital bill. That very day I started working again, I received two letters in the mail, one from an editor and one from a panel of fellowship judges. They loved my work and were very complimentary. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep writing because I had to make money.

So, here I am out of work again. I haven't written seriously in ten years. I've mainly just been blogging. So, I took a handful of my most recent poems, which aren't really that recent, and sent them off to an editor as a sort of litmus test to see if I was still in the game. Within a couple of weeks, the editor responded and asked if he could publish my work. It's too bad that poetry doesn't pay, because I'd have an income much faster as a writer than I do as a photographer. But you've just got to do it for the love of it.


achieve1dream said...

That is so fantastic about the poetry! Have you maybe considered writing something else for magazines? As a freelance writer just for some extra cash until the photography business takes off? I don't have any advice because I have no experience with it, but it might be worth a shot.

Sorry about your wrist. I do the exact same thing you do with the shoes and my slippers have cause problems before too. I have big enough feet without trying to maneuver floofy slippers around lol. I hope you heal up quickly and I hope your son's knee does too. That sucks about the scholarship. He must be so disappointed. It'll all work out though. :)

Rebecca said...

I made the mistake of wearing my muck boots through the house this weekend. I had been wearing them all day outside and had forgotten they were on my feet. The end result was not pretty. You would think I would learn. :op

Be careful out there Bionic Woman! Wishes for fast healing coming your way :o)

Katharine Swan said...

Your husband should definitely go for a second opinion or more x-rays. My friend fractured her ankle last summer, but the initial x-rays didn't show the fracture. It wasn't until a month later, when it definitely wasn't getting any better, that she went back for more x-rays -- and lo and behold, there was the fracture! A month of walking around made it finally bad enough to show up.

Congratulations on the poetry getting published, but speaking as a professional writer, beware of non-paying gigs. Editors of magazines on shoestring budgets like to take advantage of writers who don't know any better, and they will feed you the nonsense of "if you really love writing you won't expect to be paid." The concept of the starving artist is a prevailing one in our society, and many publishers use it to their advantage. Be sure and ask for free copies of the issue your poems appear in, and use the clips to help you get more work in the future, but don't get stuck writing for only non-paying clients!

Sydney_bitless said...

Poetry does not pay but if you are good about writing articles, freelance writing does good as does selling stock photography. How I paid for my camera and some of my schooling plus some.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Most poetry is confusing to me, but some can really move me.
My kidlets and I can't get enough of Shel Silverstein. Like Dr. Seuss, he's just quirky enough for me to understand. lol!

If it were me, I'd get x-rays AND an MRI.
You do remember when Baby Doll did her sit back maneuver while tied to the metal pole fence, right?
Immediately after the pole slammed me to the ground, I was unable to put any weight on that leg at all.
And I'm glad I didn't.
Even though I went in and the doctor gave me x-rays, the compound fracture failed to show up.

It wasn't until 2 weeks later when I was given an MRI that the spiderweb/fractured-windshield style fracture appeared.
First thing my doctor said was he was grateful that I listened to my gut and my body and used my crutches right after the injury and until I was given the MRI.

He said if I had forced any weight on that shattered tibial plateau, it would have required surgery to install plates and screws.

Feel better soon,

fernvalley01 said...

first of all ,ouch!!! I am finally getting my wrist checked tomorrow after the fall I had in Nov.(it was numb till about a week ago and now the feeling is back and not great)
And congrats on being published! even igf it doesn't earn you money it is still worth it .I have been writing some poetry as well this last while , it may never be published anywhere but my blog , but it is fun

Rising Rainbow said...

Your routine with footwear is much like mine. Before you even got to the issue with the slippers, I knew where you were going. You know what I'm always saying about hingsight, well that's why I knew. LOL

How come poets don't get paid? Do you have to do a whole book first or what? Seems to me if it's good enough you can get someone interested in publishing it that easily, maybe a book isn't out of the question.

As for the photography thing, I have a friend who has been working her way up with photography. It has taken patience and lots of work but she is making money on her work. Sounds to me you're on the right track there as well.

I'm thinking at the rate you're going you'll be a famous photographer and a famous poet before I get one horse sold. LOL

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

The story behind publishing poetry is this: You start out with a copy of the Poet's Market, and you follow each literary journal's guidelines to submit your poetry for consideration to be included in their next issue. If your work is accepted into a printed journal, you usually get two copies as your pay. If you submit to an online journal, you get nothing other than being able to use the names of the journals as places you've been published in your next cover letter. There are a few journals that pay, but they usually only accept Pulitzer Prize winners and Poet Laureates, and they only pay maybe $50 per poem.

When you have enough publications under your belt, you send out query letters to chapbook or book publishers. In my experience, it's easier to get a book published if you know the publisher personally, if you are already famous, or if you are a creative writing professor at the local university. Most publishers won't publish poetry books at all, because they can't make much of a profit off poetry, but there are a few publishers who specialize in poetry. They often have contests you can enter, and the winner gets her work published in a book. But you usually have to pay money to enter the contest, which helps pay for the book, which usually ends up being someone else's book. You can also publish your own book easily enough, distribute and market it yourself, which I did years ago when I had more time.

Most poets make a living teaching poetry, not publishing it. We only have two colleges nearby and both already have their one creative writing professor on staff. Poets can also apply for fellowships of about $5,000 a year. I used to apply for that every year and was always in the finals, so I'll try again this year. If you want to make money as a writer, it's best to either become the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, or do freelance articles.

Sarah said...

That's awful about all the injuries. I'm sorry that's happened to all of you! Hope you all get better soon. When it rains it pours.

I've had some poetry published...not much because I've had to work. But I love writing and hope one of these days we have the ability to let me just do that.