hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Mine started out well
enough—until things in my life got perverse on me again.
A few months ago, I mentioned
how one of my stories made it to the final round with a well-known
publisher. At the time, I didn’t want to say which publisher in case I
didn’t make it into the book. But after several months of waiting, I
found out I made it into not only one book but two: Chicken
Soup for the Soul: Tales of Christmas and Chicken
Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas. How awesome is
I still remember the day I
received the news. I felt the Christmas spirit welling up inside of me.
Ho! Ho! Ho!
When my advanced copies arrived,
I picked up one of the books and held it in my hands, fingering the
cover. Another wave of happiness swept over me—and then some person
pooh-poohed my joy.
“You’re getting paid for this,
aren’t you, Deb?”
“That’s great. I’m so happy you
“Uh . . . this isn’t the first
time. I thought I’d told you about all the other—”
“Well, it’s the first time
you’ve been paid.”
“Nope. Been paid before, too.”
“Yeah, but this is Chicken
Soup for the Soul.”
“Yes, it is.”
After talking with this person
for two minutes, I felt as though I was going to need some soup . . .
for my soul.
Oh well, there’s one in every
Uh, make that several.
The next individual, who seemed
to be excited for me at first, said, “Deb, how awesome. I’m so proud of
you.” Then she paused. “Wait. They’re paying you for this, aren’t
My brain scrambled, trying to
remember all the times I’d asked people if they got paid for what they
did. I couldn’t think of any. Zip. Nada. Zero. “I—”
“Those people make a fortune,
you know. They can afford to pay you something.”
“You shouldn’t do all that work
and not get paid.”
“But they are paying me.”
As I stood there, I wanted to
tell this person that the next time I performed hours of labor for
her, I should receive compensation.
But I didn’t. I did those things
because I loved her.
Instead, I sucked in a deep
breath, thinking it was too bad there wasn’t a publisher who took
submissions on how to ruin someone’s Christmas. I’d make a fortune.
My poor husband is the one who
suffered, though. When my dumpling came home from work one day, I asked
him my usual. “How was your day today, honey?”
Then something sinister took
over. “Oh, didn’t you get paid?”
“Deb . . .”
“Sorry.” I pulled an imaginary
zipper across my lips. The man didn’t deserve this. He’d done nothing
but encourage me.
A week or so later, just as I
was beginning to recover from all the madness, I visited my
ninety-one-year-old mother in the nursing home. I knew she wouldn’t say
anything, at least not about my writing.
When I walked into the front
doors of the building, I spied three stair-stepped Christmas trees
tucked away in the corner of the front visitors’ room. Dots of white
lights sprinkled each one. A manger scene sat on an end table nearby.
It made me feel downright warm and fuzzy, I tell you.
smiled. Ho! Ho! Ho!
I strolled down the hall to Mom’s room, I nodded and smiled at the
other residents. They grinned in return. Yes, this was going to be a
Minutes later, I returned down
the hall, pushing Mom in her wheelchair toward the warm and fuzzy room
at the front of the building. If the scene lifted my spirits, it would
do the same for her.
We strolled by the residents I’d
passed moments earlier, and I smiled again—until Mom hooked her thumb
over her shoulder and pointed at me. “This is my daughter,” she
hollered. “She writes and she’s getting paid for it
I won’t tell you what I wanted
to do with that wheelchair. If Mom hadn’t been sitting in it, I could
have easily pushed it into the wall and stomped out of the building.
I mean, seriously, can you
My mean side, which can take up
about 90 percent of my body when I get upset, wanted to go back and
taunt the people who made those comments in the first place. Okay, not
my mother, because, well, she is my mother, but I couldn’t. I knew God
would have me to force another imaginary zipper across my lips.
But I can talk to you, my fellow
writers, because I know many of you have probably been through the same
thing. You have, haven’t you?
Anyway, I honestly don’t know
what all the fuss is about. I mean, yes, I have donated articles, many
times, but so what?
People who have lost loved ones
come to mind. If I have something to say that might help those who are
grieving (which I did at the time, since I’d lost numerous people in my
own life), well, should I fold my arms across my chest, stick my nose
in the air, and say, “Sorry, I’m not getting paid.”
Or what about those who needed a
word of encouragement? If I have something to offer, which many times I
do (okay, you can stop laughing now), should I ignore them because
someone wasn’t giving me cold, hard cash?
And last of all (yeah, right, we
all know I’m not finished yet), what about the discipline it’s brought
to my own writing life? How it’s made me better at the craft? You can’t
put a price tag on those kinds of things.
Anyway, I’m not going to let
others make me feel like a loser because I don’t have a wad of cash
falling at my feet for each article I write and or publish. That’ll
come when I publish my first breakout novel. (Prophesy to those bones,
Hey, it could happen.