In my search for an alternative to the janitor job I have reached a conclusion that should have been obvious to me all along. It was certainly obvious to Boss, who has adjusted her management technique to get the best work out of me. Women are cunning and devious things.
Basically, I’m not much good at being told what to do. Order me around and I will make your life hell. I will use literal interpretation and wilful misunderstanding to make a complete disaster out of everything and demonstrate quite clearly that it’s your fault because that is exactly – exactly – what you ordered me to do.
Academia saw little of this problem because mostly, I was left to deal with my own research and teaching and students and since there was never a problem with any of them, nobody needed to order me to do anything. I was doing it all anyway. That’s a different world to the manager/serf relationship of Local Shop. Here, the managers are used to staff who need to be told what to do because otherwise, they won’t do anything.
That’s no surprise. You really can’t expect much innovation and initiative at these prices. Why would they bust a gut for the company? There’s no extra pay for working harder.
Boss worked out – very quickly – that if she asks me to do something I will do it. No need for orders. Just ask. Okay, that won’t work for everyone because fluttering your eyelashes at me isn’t going to cut it if you’re male. I’ll just ask you if you have something in your eye.
Anyway, the best place for me is self-employment. With no staff because I don’t want to order anyone else around either. There have only ever been two technicians who could stand to work with me. One was the basis for Elaine in ‘Samuel’s Girl’ but she doesn’t know it and probably hasn’t read it. I am an awful boss, I prefer to do everything myself and won’t ask for help. There were only two who I trusted to work to my standard. Everyone else got tired of being checked up on.
The research self-employment isn’t going to recover now, it’s been too long. I need a new career. A new trick for an old Underdog.
Being a small publisher could work. I’ll start with short story collections and if it looks like it’s going somewhere, move on to novels. That would mean a different contract and quarterly accounts for royalty payments but it would be worth the effort if it really took off.
The first collection is taking off much faster than I anticipated. That book will be ready for final editing, author payments (unless you want book copies in which case it’ll be payment when the copies arrive) and getting it out there in early June. Deadline for stories is May 31st but I’d prefer them sooner so I can get it into shape sooner. Nonetheless, a deadline is a deadline so I’m still accepting until May 31st.
I estimate that, on current printing costs, £20 would equate to 5 or 6 copies. I’m going to say at least 5 copies even if it comes to more than £20. Future payments will be more complex. I’m keeping it simple for the first one.
There will be a Christmas collection. I always planned to do one myself but never did it. All my Christmas stories are scattered among other books now. I still have For Whom the Bells Jingle for that book, and another half-done.
The no-staff thing could become an issue. It would be some years before I could even think about salaried staff but I might want to hire an editor and/or proofreader or cover artist at some stage for a one off job. Or two or three, if you’re good. I do hope to reach the stage where I can’t do it all myself.
I’d have to ask for help. That won’t come easy to me…