Saturday, August 2, 2014

Just leave me be

You might be wondering how I got the title of this blog post. It’s not hard to figure out, really. It’s something I probably say a dozen times a day to myself under my breath or just internally in my head.

It’s also a decidedly southern phrase. You don’t hear this very much up north. Some northerners probably wouldn’t even know what I mean if I said that to them. So let me clarify first.

“Just leave me be” is exactly what it sounds like. It means to go away and not bother me. It means that I really don’t want to be interrupted. It means that you’re causing a distraction that I really don’t want or need.

And it seems I say that a lot these days.

Now you’re wondering to whom I say this phrase. So let me help you out with that.

Here’s the one I love: “You’re working too hard. You should take a day off. You’re going to get burned out.” I’ve got two words for that one.

Fuck off.

Let me ask you something: Do you see the guy who just opened the little mom and pop burger joint just closing up for a day because he might get “burned out?” Nope. And he doesn’t have enough money to hire a bunch of help, so he, his wife, and his two teenaged kids are working from ten in the morning until ten at night, trying to make a go of this business. If they don’t, it will fail, and with his job in the auto industry or coal mining industry gone, they’ll have even less of nothing than they already had. It’s like the nursery up the highway from me. They made a big production out of opening up, their custom holiday trees, their spring bedding plants, their rose bushes for Mother’s Day, all that stuff. But they’re never open. Go by there and they’re closed. They were only open about three days a week at best. Nobody wants to drive out to somewhere like that, only to find they’re closed. That’s a waste of time. The property’s up for sale – what a surprise.

Same thing here. This is a business. It’s not a hobby. It’s not a pastime. It’s a damn business, people. I have to be “open for business.” I need to answer email. I need to respond to PMs on Facebook. I need to order stuff, call people, send in applications for events, mail things out, all of that stuff. I need to confer with my promo person, my assistant, and my street team. Mostly, I need to WRITE. It’s hard to find time to do that with all of the other stuff I have to do, but I need to be doing that too. So yes, I’ve been working 18-20 hour days for over a year, and there’s no end in sight. But I haven’t turned a profit, so I’ve got to keep working. If I’d borrowed money, the bank would want it back, with interest. Just because I’m funding this privately doesn’t mean it’s any less expensive.

Here’s another time sucker: “Can you help me with something?” I just love these people. They see me out there hustling and they want to ask me a question, and they figure out quickly that I’m a kind, loving person and I’m willing to help just about anybody. Their request is usually something pretty involved. And then, when I tell them the answer, one of two things happens. I find out that a) they’re not willing to do whatever it is I’ve told them will work, and/or b) they treat me like I don’t know what I’m talking about. Nice, very nice. Take up my time, which, by the way, is the only damn thing I really own and have sacrificed for you, and basically thumb your nose at me.

So I have a new policy. I don’t mind helping anyone, and I’ll help you, but when it’s obvious to me that you won’t even help yourself, I’m done. Done. Don’t ask again. I’ve got one right now that’s put herself in that situation with me. She comes back and asks me to help her and I’ll have to tell her that she did something that makes her look flaky in the eyes of other authors and I can’t afford to be associated with that. Bottom line. She’s going to be upset. She won’t be any more upset than I was when I figured out how much effort I’d put into helping her and then discovered that she wasn’t serious about the craft, the business of the craft, or the community. Of course, if you asked her, she’d say I couldn’t have spent any more than thirty minutes with her. Actually, it was way more than thirty minutes, but do you know how many words I can write in thirty minutes? In excess of three thousand. Not kidding. I wrote 2,217 in a fifteen-minute span in February. Take up thirty minutes of my time and you’ve just cut my throat.

So piss off, I say.

Then there’s another one I just love. It’s people who announce to me what I’m going to do and what they’re going to do for me. Don’t misunderstand me: I appreciate help, any help I can get. I really do. Nobody appreciates it more than me. But have you ever had someone come to help you set up for a birthday party and it was obvious that they, for some reason, either thought it was an anniversary party, or they wanted it to be an anniversary party? Yeah, I’ve had that happen, maybe not literally, but you get the analogy. It’s like they couldn’t understand that my genre wasn’t auto mechanics or psychological self-help, and they either wanted to try to make it fit that pigeonhole or they insisted that I should so they could help me.

And before anyone says anything, understand, this does NOT apply to my street team. Those ladies get it and if they want to take the initiative to do something for me, I’ll bow at their feet and kiss their toes. Really. I’ll do anything they ask me to do. Some of them know a lot more about this business than I do. I’m depending on their expertise, and they know it. So thanks, Construction Crew. I owe you big time already.

Nope, I’m talking about the kind of people who come to me and let me know they’ve set me up with a five-day advertising stint with “Chicken Nuggets Are Us” or some equally unsuitable something. I had one insisting that I write poetry to include in their anthology. I tried to tell them twelve ways past Sunday that I don’t do poetry anymore. Oh, no, they weren’t having any of that. I should do this; it was going to be a best seller, and wouldn’t I be sorry if I wasn’t involved? No, I would not. I couldn’t convince this person of that, so I finally had to say something to the effect of, “Back off. Not gonna happen.” They took it hard, hard enough to stay away.

Mission accomplished.

And here’s another one I love: “We should work on a project together.”

Translation: “I have a project that I want to do but I have no earthly idea how to do it. So I want you to drop what you’re doing and come over here and do it for me, at least the bulk of it. I’ll put my name on it. Sound good? It should, because I’m brilliant and you’re lucky that I chose you to be the one to do this ‘joint project’ for me.”

Yeahhhhh, no. I’m done with that. I have my own damn joint projects to do with me, myself, and I. I don’t have time for that stuff, especially since it usually turns out to be a purely commercial venture for them, something that they plan to sell that will benefit them and them alone. Happens all the time. It’s usually something like, “I sell custom-built dog sleds. I have this great idea for a monthly tabloid for Iditarod racers and their dogs. It’ll have a subscription base of about thirty-seven racers and one hundred and fifty dogs. We’ll make a shit ton of money.”

Nope. Moving on.

These days I also get a lot of, “hello bb what are you doing? where ire you from? can we just be frends here? i have skype you wanna skype im a college student and I need to practice english it work best when i can see who i taking too so i see how word werk sond good?”

One of the most recent ones asked where I was. That’s on my profile. Then he wanted to know what I do for a living. Not only on my profile, but it’s on my damn Facebook banner, idiot. Then he wanted to know if I did my own research, to which I replied yes, of course. Then he wanted to know with whom I was open to doing research. I replied that I have my own research assistant who is not into sharing (damn it, but that’s another blog post entirely). The he asked if my profile pic was really me. Look, asshat, if I were going to use someone else’s picture, don’t you think I’d pick someone a whole lot more attractive than me? Really? Why would I go to the trouble to falsify a pic and then not at least go for Jessica Biel, or Cameron Diaz, or Jennifer Lopez, or someone like that. Catherine Zeta Jones, for god sake. But a pic of me? Good god. Not only have you creeped me out, you’ve insulted my intelligence. That will not get you research time with me, no it will not.

Unfriend. Block, block, block.

But here’s my absolute favorite. I’m in my office and my phone rings. There’s this familiar voice on the other end that says, “Hey, baby, take a break, wouldja? Come out back and sit on the swing with me? I made us a plate of cheese and crackers, and there’s a couple of beers out here too. Can’t you just spare me fifteen minutes? I miss your cute little face.” Think I’m about to say, “Just leave me be?”

Not a chance. See ya later. I’ve got some really, really important business to attend to.

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