Still Seeking Validity, or, Self-Worth Struggles for Bread-Eaters

“I’m a writer,” I say proudly, adding on the descriptor of fiction, entertainment, or food and drink depending on the company. “But I don’t support myself or anything.”

Ah, there it is. My caveat. Why am I compelled to add it in? Something within me thinks it’s important for people to know, although it isn’t. It’s none of their business how much money I make in my career, but somehow, after six years at this gig, I still view my financial contributions to the household as an essential part of my identity. Other bread-eaters I know have had to deal with judgments as to how they spend their days from other people, and I wouldn’t hesitate to rise to their defense, raise my voice and yell, “How dare you try to devalue this person’s work?!” whether that work be a career, raising children, keeping up a household, or a combination of all of the above. Yet I do it to myself all the time.

I’m ridiculous. You’d think I’d know better by now. Way back when I left my last day job to pursue fiction writing fulltime, I wrote a post on how I was struggling with financial dependency—nay, not just being financially dependent on someone else, but choosing it. That was before I could call myself a professional writer or a published author. I now have a nice long list of accomplishments, and I know I spend the same amount of time on my career as most people do in their workplaces. But my primary emotional battle remains the same: accepting, again and again, that my self-worth does not need to be connected to my financial contribution. You’d think I’d have an easier time with that seeing as our income has risen every year since. But I still get hung up on it.

I’m proud, you see. Proud that I put myself through college. Proud that I could fully support myself until the age of 29. Taking pride in my financial acumen, in the independence that it provided, was a key aspect of my identity until I took that jump into writing fulltime. It provided me with validation that I now have to find elsewhere. And inevitably, that elsewhere starts as a side writing project that eventually overpowers my passion project—writing fiction—because fiction brings in nominal income even when I do sell a story or get royalties. So I devalue it and slowly but surely reprioritize the projects that bring in significant funds. My first few years, that was copy editing dissertations and manuscripts until I realized I was no longer working on my fiction. In the last two years, that’s been writing for an entertainment website until I had the wake-up call that maybe, maybe, the reason I couldn’t get the motivation to work on my second novel was because of the 5K of polished words I’d churned out on articles over 2 days.

How do I realize I’ve done it again? A growing sense of dissatisfaction with my work develops, and I eventually have that aha! moment of realizing it’s because I’m not engaging my creative side. Which isn’t to say nonfiction isn’t creative, of course, but it doesn’t feed my soul in the same way. After I make that realization? The downward spiral commences: I must convince myself, yet again, that it’s okay if I don’t contribute funds to our income, and that I, Becca Gomez Farrell, somehow deserve this amazing opportunity to pursue my dreams when so many other people can’t. What right do I have to live this privileged life? And yes, I mean “privileged” with all its social justice connotations. Why is it okay for me to take advantage of this opportunity; what did I do to deserve it other than picking a great husband?  It feels selfish of me to even consider spending my days spinning yarns in light of what other people face.

Food, Drink, & Travel Blogging Has Moved!

The-Gourmez-Square-headerWhat happened to the delicious posts on this site? They’ve gone back home to the Gourmez! In August 2013, when we moved to the Bay Area, I combined all my writing pursuits into the site you’re viewing now. At the time, housing them together made the most sense for my sanity–too many sites to manage was too much in the midst of such a huge life change. But nearly two years later, and a recent transition from Hayward to Oakland where my reviews are suddenly in higher demand, meant it was time to give the Gourmez its proper focus again. And thus, that new-old site has been reborn!

My fiction and entertainment publication news and life updates will continue to be housed right here. But if your stomach starts growling or your wanderlust kicks in, the Gourmez is there for you.  In fact, if you click on the menu items above for food, drink, & travel, you’ll find yourself transported to that website instead. Don’t panic! Tastiness is only a mouse click away.

Meanwhile, I’ll be doing more personal writing on this site–writing related to the writing life, that is. I’ve had a few requests to share my own struggles with searching for validation in a career where that rarely equals an income, so I’ll dig into that topic soon. But mainly, I’m planning to re-focus my writing time and get more fiction under my belt. I’m currently shopping around two longish short stories and one fantasy novel. My second novel, a post-apocalyptic romance, is about two-thirds of the way through its first draft, and I have at least four other short stories in various stages of editing and initial plotting. Here’s hoping they all find a home in time!

WisCon 39 Appearances!

wiscon39Tomorrow, I fly out for my first WisCon experience.

I’m super excited because I’ve heard so many great things about this conference from other writers. It has a heavy concentration on the craft of writing, which is the #1 reason I’m choosing it as my first con in years. I love the speculative fiction genre, but I love writing it more than I love the fannish activities that go along with it. Nothing wrong with going wild, Fandom! It’s just not how I engage with the works that spark my passion.

And I am thrilled that I will get to share some of my passion with you! I am one-third of the superpowered trio in the Triple the Strength! Triple the Power! reading with fellow writers Sally Wiener Grotta and Laura Lis Scott on Sunday at 1:00 pm in Conference Room 2 at the main hotel.

Flyer for our reading small

Thanks to Sally for our flyer! Unfortunately, Laura won’t be with us in the flesh, but I’m delighted to read a selection from her novella, Half the Sky, on her behalf. I’ll also be reading “Thlush-A-Lum”, my most recently published horror short story, and if time allows (it should), the first chapter of my epic fantasy novel, Wings Unseen.

But that’s not all! On Monday morning, in the waning hours of WisCon, I’ll be on the Worldbuilding Through Food panel in Senate B at 10:00 am. Writing about food has been a huge part of my career over the past six years, and food has always been an honored guest in my fiction as well, so this panel’s topic spoke to me on many levels. Ty Blauersouth is our moderator, and my fellow panelists will be Nino Cipri and Amy Thomson. The official description:

The food crops and domestic animals an author uses in a fictional world shape underlying presumptions about where and when a story is set…or “not set,” in the case of not-quite-our-world-but-just-barely worlds. Medievaloid Europeish taverns with potatoes and tomatoes in their stew. Cultures that spice heavily, or lightly, or eat a wide range of animals; even if crops and livestock are all named with new words they often trace back to our-Earth models. How can one thoughtfully use food in your worldbuilding in ways that support themes and characters, without falling into shallow sloppiness? What SFF authors do food description particularly well? What’s good about it?

I’m especially excited to talk about how food choices can reveal character and ways food can be more central to the plot than just a lush description of a feasting table. Turkish delight, anyone?

Of course, I’ll be out and about all over the place during the rest of WisCon 39, but I haven’t had the chance to pick which sessions I’ll attend just yet. I’ll update you all on those plans as I make the decisions! Meanwhile, I always love meeting new people, so if you’d like to join me for coffee or a cocktail or a meal, just drop me a line at becca at thegourmez dot com or through Twitter @thegourmez. I arrive Wednesday evening and leave Monday afternoon.

See you soon, Wisconsin! It’ll be lovely to make your acquaintance.