Texting wasn’t enough. I had to talk to him, so I left the building and walked down the street and around a corner and into the Starbuck’s, where I grabbed a seat away from everyone else. He’d be home already, exchanging work clothes for casual.
“I got my first quarter statement this morning,” I said the instant he answered. “Third quarter, actually, but first for me. No third party sales were included, so no Amazon in there. Just sales at the publisher’s site.”
“I made $72. Jesus, JJ. I blew an entire summer, and for what? $72 lousy bucks.” I was glaring into the room, and some girl walking by thought it was for her and I had to mime that I was sorry before turning to face a wall. “I’d make more if I slit my wrist and let them take my blood.”
“You’re being a bit melodramatic, aren’t you?”
“I didn’t expect a lot, but I did expect more.”
“You’re new, no one knows yet how well you write. They’ll discover you eventually. Besides, what choice do you have? You like writing. I never see you happier than when you’re typing away, living someone else’s life.”
“It’s so goddamn depressing.”
“Fen, forget the numbers. They don’t mean shit. Just come home tonight and write because you love it. You do love it, don’t you?”
I whispered, “I do, more than anything.”
“Then fuck the rest. It’s not like you need the money. It’s nice, but you don’t live on it. So keep writing, keep playing in your imaginary worlds, and eventually, the money will come.”
“What if it doesn’t?”
There was a pause. “You tell me. What if it doesn’t?”
I loved writing. Loved plotting and planning and creating characters and seeing where they took me. I did it before I got published, and so what difference did it make if I made almost nothing from it? The stories were out there, and if only a few people bought and liked them, wasn’t that enough?
“I’m not a success though.”
“Of course you are. You’re published. How many people can say that?
“I…don’t know. I feel so weird right now.”
“Honey, leave work early and come home. You’re tired. You’ve been under a lot of stress. Take some time for yourself.”
“…Okay. See you soon.”
It might have been a Monday, I felt so bad.