The View in the Darkness

img_3709I haven’t wanted to write this post, so rather than talk myself out of it, here goes.

I’ve had the kind of season people describe with idioms like “the bottom dropping out” or “waiting for the other shoe to drop—whoops, there it goes.” In the last few months, my electricity was switched off due to nonpayment. Internet also. The landlord sent polite notices asking for the rent. I often wondered where my next meal was coming from. When you lack money or a job that pays regularly, you can expect this sort of thing to happen.

You can also expect to field a lot of advice from well-meaning people, who assume you’ve lost control of your life and need them to step in to fix it. “You should apply for this job,” I’ve been told so often, that if I had a dollar for every time I heard it, I could buy real estate.

Oh, I have applied for many jobs. Case in point, I applied for an office manager job at a nearby college a couple of months ago. I had to take four tests for that. I think I broke a record for how low I scored on the Windows Excel test. (The last version of Excel I had was the 2003 version.) Needless to say, I did not get that job.

Anyway, not long after that, a friend and I were headed into a grocery store (a store known for their gelato section, where you can buy a small cup for $1.25) for our bimonthly chat when we spotted a guy who is a friend to both of us.

“What’ve you been up to?” I asked.

“I just got a new job,” he said.

“Oh, where?” I asked.

And then he named the college and the department. Yep. The job I did not get. But I was happy for him. He needed work too.

So yes, I have applied for jobs while using the library’s wifi. (And yes, I applied for a job at that library three times. Didn’t get those jobs.) I networked. I auditioned for writing projects (mentioned in this post here), only to have to wait and wait and wait.

When your lights are off, candles become very precious. Now, I’m not into candles like some of my friends who love the mood they create. So I’ve tended to shove into cabinets the ones I’ve been given. Well, they came in handy this time.

I thought about how the pioneers in the days before electricity were able to do so much without it. I also thought about scenes I’d written in novels where the people had only firelight and a few precious candles to use for light. I totally had the lighting all wrong in my twenty-first century-used-to-electricity mindset.

One thing about being in the dark—you can’t help noticing the shapes of things in shadow. You also tend to appreciate any sliver of light you can find.

img_3612

I couldn’t read for long in the dark, even with candles, so I had to turn to my imagination. I told myself stories—something I used to do every night. When had I gotten out of the habit? I’m not sure. This was a nice habit to reclaim.

Anyway, my time in the dark didn’t last long. I received a check for something I can’t really discuss in public, but could tell you a little about in private. The check enabled me to have the lights turned on. And just last week, one of the projects for which I auditioned was finally approved with me as the sole author. And it pays well. 🙂 My landlord will be happy. I have a tight deadline on that one though. But I’m grateful for the work. Want to know something funny? It involves writing stories—a lot of them in fact. One hundred to be precise for kids ages 4-7.

It seems my time in the dark was helpful after all.

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52 thoughts on “The View in the Darkness

  1. A happy ending and I hope you meet every deadline. This reminds me about when we lost power after Superstorm Sandy. You lose sense of time in the dark too because even the clocks don’t work. We ended up sleeping a lot. Fully agree on ‘you should apply to this job’, which gets rather frustrating. Half the time, I don’t see what the other people are seeing. Usually it’s something that ‘involves writing’. Have a great week.

  2. Although you’ve spent some time in the dark, you’ve remained a bright light for many of us. I’m happy things have turned around for you, L. Marie. Good luck with your stories…you’ll get them written!

    • Thanks, Jill. I appreciate your support.

      I’m trying to get into a routine where I turn out a certain number a day. Of course this has greatly cut into my YouTube viewing. 🙂 I haven’t seen a YouTube video in awhile.

  3. I agree with Jill’s comment above. You’ve been in a dark place – literally and emotionally – and yet you continue to post and share messages of joy and hope. Thank you.

  4. What everyone’s said! Your darkness has been a source of light –some people just work that way. Bless you for being one of them. Oh, and 4-7, my eye! I can’t wait to read those stories!

    • Thanks, Louise. 🙂 This was a difficult post to write, but it had to be written in order for me to move on. I look at it like a marker in my life. A strange one, but a marker nonetheless.

  5. Congratulations on the writing gig, Linda ~> A hundred stories should keep you busy and out of the shadows for some time.

    You amaze me. I’ve been “in the dark” about the tough time you’ve been going through. Best of luck to you going forward!

    • Thanks, Nancy! And yes, I need to keep busy to keep out of trouble. 🙂

      I haven’t shared much about what’s going on. This time, I felt I had to. I’ve lived with the shame of it for a while. But maybe someone else might be going through this and might need to hear that others have struggled too.

      • I’m sorry that, on top of your other challenges, you also had to battle “shame.” As I read this, I didn’t see any shameful behavior on your part . . .

        Unless you received that check for driving the getaway vehicle following a bank heist. I can see Hello Kitty doing that, but not you. 😉

        Until your bank account re-establishes itself, do consider applying for SNAP to get some assistance with putting food on the table.

      • Thanks, Nancy! Ha! My car is so old, I couldn’t make a proper getaway. But I have learned a lot about crime by watching so many heist movies. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at flinging playing cards at people (ala Now You See Me 2).

      • Haha! Flinging playing cards at people is a great way to get more time for a fast getaway! (Maybe Hello Kitty can give you some pointers?)

  6. Sorry to hear of the darkness, L. Marie, and so glad to learn of the light!
    I think I could write a book of all the things well-meaning people say. Good people, all, but with no end to advice on anything from health to employment, how to grieve and how long, and, just today, someone felt they needed to tell me about patience. 🙂
    All those stories you told yourself over a period of time, and especially recently – it is almost as if the darkness was preparing you for this new project of 100 stories. Best wishes!

    • Thanks, Penny! I think you’re right. We’re often prepared for the next stage of our lives. 🙂 Though you hadn’t planned on that fall you took recently, I’m glad you were prepared at least for the road ahead. 🙂

  7. “Let there be light,” never seemed to ring truer, Linda. I’m sorry to hear about the trials you’ve gone through, but it sounds like things are on the mend! So happy to hear that. Though I’m sure you’d rather have experienced the dark on your own terms, it’s probably something all of us should go through every once in awhile so that we truly appreciate what we have. BTW, I completely get the exhaustion of dealing with unsolicited advice, but if there’s ever anything I can do for you (or even think I CAN’T do for you), please don’t hesitate to reach out…

  8. So glad you’ve got to the light at the end of the tunnel! What a difficult time for you, though – and I’m most impressed that not only did you manage to find something positive in it, but you restrained yourself from beaning the helpful ‘get-a-job’ suggesters over the head with a brick! If only it were that easy. Your new gig sounds great, and hopefully it might lead to even more work in the future. Keep that chin up – it inspires us, you know!

    • Thanks, FF! Restraint was difficult to come by, especially since I have so many heavy books around that I could have hurled. Well, those books were added incentive since they really are heavy, and I’m not an Olympian. (I just look like one. . . . Ha. I wish.)

  9. I’m so glad this new writing gig worked out, and I look forward to hearing more about your early reader series. My daughter will be teaching elementary school by the time they come out (or at least student teaching) and I will let her know about the series, because I’m sure her kids will love them! It’s feast or famine in this business.

  10. A tough ordeal. I’m glad there is light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂
    It sounds like a cliche but it’s true, challenges can help us grow. It seems that’s what happened in your case. I hope you write even more beautiful and meaningful stories than ever before.

  11. Thanks for having the courage to write this post. I think it speaks for many of us who are, or have been, in the dark recently. Maybe it wasn’t the electricity, but we all deal with it sometime. It helps to see it in words, even if we didn’t write them. Congratulations on your contract. Hopefully, you’ve turned a corner and will have some smoother sailing for a while.

  12. Oh, this breaks my heart, Linda! I had no idea that you were living hand-to-mouth. You are such a generous person, sharing your stories, sponsoring giveaways, and always so upbeat and thoughtful. And you are obviously a very fine writer. Your blog alone is proof of that. I don’t doubt that you’ve turned over every employment stone you can find, and, yes, well-meaning advice is often the last thing you need.
    But at the end of your post, I feel so hopeful for you. I’m am so happy that the check came through for you and now the writing assignment. Can I say I’m proud of you? I mean, you’ve been very open here, and you faced an uncertain future. You reflected and used your lack of electricity as an opportunity to be creative. You are truly an inspiration, and I hope those writing assignments keep coming!

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