I’ve worked in a charming little toy store in my hometown for nearly four years now. I love this job; the hours are perfect, I have a great boss, and I love being part of a unique retail store that’s been a fixture of our downtown for over twenty years.
Unfortunately, it will be closing its doors at the end of January. Although we’ve seen the signs for some time, we can’t believe it’s actually going to happen. There’s a slim chance that someone may buy the business and revive it, but the truth is a store like this, no matter how locally beloved, simply cannot compete with the wider marketplace. Despite numerous “shop local” campaigns, the internet, Walmart, and the malls have won.
So now I’ll be looking for a new job, and facing yet again a new chapter in my life. I’ve chosen these minimum wage, unskilled jobs all my life so that I could focus my energies on writing, but it’s times like these that I wonder if I made a terrible mistake in not going into something more solid and reliable. Nursing, for instance, or pharmacy technician. But I can’t imagine being responsible for someone’s else’s health; I’m afraid I might kill them. Accounting is safer. I have a two-year accounting degree, and did it for ten years, but crunching numbers sucked the soul right out of me. I’d rather man a cash register and scribble a few lines between customers. The price, of course, is financial insecurity.
But the point I was trying to make is, just as the internet has changed the business world, it’s changed the publishing industry and writing landscape. Just as businesses need to become more innovative to make it in the digital world–in essence, “change or die”–the writer needs to approach writing the same way. We can’t simply write a book, send it out, and then sit back and let the publishers do all the work. The old models don’t work anymore, for better or for worse.
My heart cries at the death of the old, but still holds out hope for the new. Doors close, but others open. Whether it’s a new job, or new writing opportunities, I have to have faith that these new paths will take me where I need to go. In this new year, I’m curious to see where I’ll end up.