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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Odd Gifts

With the holidays pressing on me, I was knocked off my feet by a stomach virus that would not go away. Day after day I endured dizziness, weakness, cramps, and nausea. I thought I would never feel normal again. Instead of lying in bed, I wanted to be decorating, sending out holiday cards, seeing the lights, attending holiday gatherings, and cooking for my holiday party. Instead, my little poodle curled up with me under the bed covers while I waited for the worst of the cramps and nausea to pass. The doctor warned me it might take ten days.

Today at last I’ve come through, and I’m back in my office. What a logjam of unfinished work I have to attack! I must sort through and decide what is urgent, what can be done later, and what can be skipped. It’s one of those odd blessings. I never wanted to be sick, but if I hadn’t been sick, I never would have had the opportunity to rethink my priorities. Being ill shook me to my core, but I made it through, and now that I have my health back, I feel even stronger, less cluttered with unnecessary obligations, and more determined to move ahead and be strong.

The financial world is going through a virus of a sort, as well. As we go into 2009, reports of our sick economy clog the news. I’ve seen my clients getting struck down. One produces a magazine focused on real estate, and its advertising revenue practically vanished. The company will have to regroup, refocus, and make some difficult decisions.

We all are tightening our belts; it’s what we do when the economy is ailing, but at least we have stomachs under those belts, and we have hearts still beating in our chests. America has always come through its fluctuating financial times. A sick economy may shake us, but it will heal, and when it does, we will be stronger and more clearly focused. Our priorities will be clearer and our futures will be bright. We will have learned how to exist on less and rely on each other more.

The ailing economy is a gift we may not have wanted, but we will benefit from it.

What does all this health and financial information have to do with writing? Everything. Yes, we’re watching publishers pull back and ad revenues drop, but some companies are finding ways to make a profit anyway. For one, I’ve seen a rise in companies that help people self-publish. The self-publishing industry is refining itself, offering more benefits and services to its customers, and hand-holding clients who need guidance. Writers are learning to become their own promotional agents, investing in their own future. E-books are emerging as a feasible future for a portion of publishing.

Although I used to spurn self-publishing, I no longer take a dim view of it. It definitely has its place, especially in a weak economy, when traditional publishers are buying even fewer manuscripts than ever.

The economy has changed everything. We are all examining our priorities, refocusing, and learning what it takes to be successful writers.

We will survive, and when we do, we will be stronger than ever.

Here’s wishing you a healthy, happy, and fulfilling holiday season.

Yours in writing,
Bobbie Christmas (Bobbie@zebraeditor.com or bzebra@aol.com )
Author of triple-award-winning _Write In Style_ (Union Square Publishing), owner of Zebra Communications, and director of The Writers Network

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