Come join the pity party

I’m feeling sorry for myself again. This seems weird because I’m preparing to meet some friends, both new and old, at the PKD Festival in Fort Morgan, Colorado. I should be happy; I should be delighted, gleeful and ecstatic. But it has taken me ten years to get to this point, and I’m tired. I’ve been working as hard as I possibly can, and I’m worn out.

Here’s the deal: After 12 years of teaching at the university, I was knocked flat by a serious illness. In fact, I nearly died of kidney failure. I was no longer able to teach, and since I did not have tenure, I was pretty much hung out to dry. My masters degree and other academic awards have lain fallow for the past ten years; they are of no use to me.

At the same time, certain people deprived me of my other source of income, and since I did not lie down and take it, I have been blackballed. I filed suit, they filed suit, and we resolved it in mediation. I am not allowed to talk about it. You can read all about it in Variety and other publications, but I am not allowed to talk about it. Meanwhile, I’ve been blackballed. I’m shut out of the means to support myself with the skills that I have.

Sure, I have 7 books on Amazon, plus a few more that are out of print. I’ve appeared on a number of podcasts and radio programs, and I’ve been a guest at small gatherings for fans of my husband. However, my own work is not recognized. I’m known only as the ex-wife of a famous author, and that plus five dollars will get you a cup of coffee. Maybe. And my 7 books are earning a whopping $20 per month. In fact, the only title that sells fairly well is a memoir about my husband. My murder mystery, science fiction novel and collection of stories and poems  are largely ignored.

Some of my work has been translated into French and Italian. Some of my work has been reprinted in periodicals. These baby steps of progress are encouraging.

However, I can’t get invited to any science fiction convention, Comic Con or other notable gathering. Since I can’t afford to travel, and I can’t even afford the price of admission, I cannot attend the venues where I might make contacts in my field. A couple years ago, I actually asked one professor to waive the price of admission to a conference that I wanted to attend, but he declined because it included a catered lunch. He did say that I could give a two-hour presentation, if I showed up and paid $35. I declined. I was prepared to ride in a car with strangers for 400 miles and sleep on a stranger’s couch, but I did not have enough money to register at the convention. So I stayed home and nursed my hurt feelings.

I can’t get onto any national radio media, and television and film are out of the question.

One glimmer of hope remains: The PKD Festival is welcoming me, and some good friends are making it possible for me to attend. However, it will leave me drained. I miss my husband so much, and I get so sad, that it takes the life out of me. So maybe I’m just getting depressed ahead of time, so it won’t hit me so hard afterward.

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