This is Part 3 of the series to serialize my book The Money Mentor: A Tale of Finding Financial Freedom. Click here to start reading from Part 1. Every other week will have another segment of the story of how a 23-year-old dancer struggles with and ultimately overcomes the burdens of her crushing financial debt. Look for posts on a variety of topics in the intervening weeks.
I think my downfall must have begun before the accident. It’s hard to be certain because I was vague about finances, numbers, budgets—actually, budget was not a word in my vocabulary. So when I put on inline skates for the first time and started downhill—without any instruction; I thought that with my dancer’s footwork and coordination I wouldn’t have any problems—I soon found myself speeding out of control. There was a moment of fear and an odd exhilaration when I knew that I had lost control and would crash, yet I was still flying on winged wheels down that slope. When it was over, I was sprawled out on the pavement and lucky to have nothing worse than a broken arm.
That was my first experience of being uninsured. When I added up the medical bills, I couldn’t believe the amount. I sat down and started to cry. I had accepted a bunch of credit cards in college so I could use their credit lines for just such an emergency. Unfortunately, I had used them for a lot of other things before the emergency happened, but I had enough left on the credit lines to pay the medical bills. Having a broken arm meant that I couldn’t waitress and I had to look for new work. I found a job as a receptionist at a small advertising agency. They had a health plan but no dental coverage, so of course the next misery in my life was an unbearable pain in one of my molars that eventually required an inlay.
I didn’t have a dentist in the city, so I asked Rachel and Tina, my roommates, and Tina gave me the name of her dentist. He was old, maybe over forty, and actually taught on the faculty of a dental school as well as having his own practice.
The Mystery Writers of America is an organization of and for mystery writers and those allied to the crime-writing field. MWA is dedicated to promoting respect for crime writing and for those who write it. It provides scholarships for writers, sponsors a youth literacy program and symposia and conferences, presents the annual Edgar Awards, and conducts other activities to further a better appreciation and higher regard for crime writing. MWA also works to educate writers and those who aspire to write regarding their rights and interests and to make writers and readers aware of developments that could affect crime writing such as legislation, publishing industry practices, judicial decisions, and in other ways. Membership includes writers of books, short stories, plays, and screenplays; publishers, editors, agents, librarians, booksellers, and other in allied fields; aspiring writers and others devoted to crime writing.
MWA has eleven regional chapters, and members are automatically enrolled in the appropriate regional chapter. All chapters have a newsletter and most have regular meetings; increasingly, chapters also have an online presence. Benefits include ten issues annually of the national newsletter, internal listservs focused on practical issues such as touring, contracts, publicity, agents, foreign rights, movie options, and other business questions, help for traditionally published writers who have been dropped by their publishers, access to health, vision, and dental insurance, and discounts on resources such as Writer’s Digest books and magazine, Publishers Weekly, invitation to the Edgar Awards, a one-day writing conference, and exclusive databases of bookstores and libraries interested in mystery writers and books.
This is Part 2 of the series to serialize my book The Money Mentor: A Tale of Finding Financial Freedom. Click here to start reading from Part 1. Every other week will have another segment of the story of how a 23-year-old dancer struggles with and ultimately overcomes the burdens of her crushing financial debt. Look for posts on a variety of topics in the intervening weeks.
When you look at me, you see a young woman of twenty-three with a silver ring through the left nostril of my nose, my dark hair cropped short with highlights of blonde, and my lipstick a dark maroon. I have sparkling brown eyes, a dancer’s figure nearly five foot six, and a blend of features that leaves my origins a mystery. I might come from Bali or Peru, Nepal or Turkey, or almost anywhere in the world where people have darker skins. My adoptive parents, James and Mary Cassidy, had been over fifty when an agency found me for them—I was only a few months old. For whatever reason, they resisted my inquiries about my origins. I only know that I came to the United States from another country where my birth parents, for reasons no one ever explained to me, gave me up for adoption.
Jim and Mary had been childless, and they certainly had love to share with me, but they died in their late sixties and left me alone in the world. While growing up, I had been accustomed to their middleclass lifestyle and earned a college degree, but they never taught me anything about money. Nor did managing money seem to be the subject of any of my high-school or college courses. Of course, I majored in dance and art, not finance or economics. When the lawyer figured out the value of my parents’ estate, there was hardly anything left. I suddenly realized that they had lived from paycheck to paycheck, both working, and even the value of our home had been reduced to nearly zero by a home-equity line of credit and a drop in real-estate prices.
After I graduated from college, I moved to the city and started auditioning for dance companies. I quickly realized that I would starve if I didn’t find some other work, particularly since I needed a lot more training in dance before I would be able to perform in any of the dance companies. So I worked as a waitress. It was easy work to find and didn’t require a lot of commitment. I even imagined that the rushing from table to table was choreography of a sort, and that the exercise would help me in my dance classes. I shared a small apartment with two other dancers my age, a strange experience of not enough closet space and lining up for the bathroom in the mornings. Since I had grown up without siblings, I didn’t know what to make of our situation, but I felt that I could endure anything if I could only dance.
The Horror Writers Association is a nonprofit organization of more than 500 writers and publishing professionals, dedicated to promoting horror and dark fantasy literature and the interests of those who write it. In addition to sponsoring the annual Bram Stoker awards for superior achievement in horror literature, HWA provides networking, a mentoring program, information trading, and promotional resources to aspiring and established horror writers, including a monthly newsletter with publishing and market news and a timely, comprehensive listing of markets. It has local chapters in the United Kingdom, Ontario (Canada), New England, New York City, Hudson Valley, New Jersey, Mid-Atlantic Region, Florida, Michigan, Chicago Area, Missouri/Lower Midwest, and Los Angeles. Full members must be published professional writers of horror, but aspiring authors who demonstrate an intention to become a professional writer may join as affiliate members.
Welcome to the first part of the series to serialize my book The Money Mentor: A Tale of Finding Financial Freedom. Every other week will have another segment of the story of how a 23-year-old dancer struggles with and ultimately overcomes the burdens of her crushing financial debt. Look for posts on a variety of topics in the intervening weeks.
Since I am not a writer, my story would probably never have been told if I hadn’t met my mentor, who helped me get out from under the burden of debt and improve my financial life. My mentor was neither wealthy nor a man. She seldom told me what to do, although she did encourage me to write about the twists and turns in my own journey to financial freedom. Rather, she helped me understand my life and my finances by her encouragement, examples, and questions. In the course of dealing with my money cares, I learned to see my life as a spiritual adventure. I discovered and developed aspects of myself that I would not have imagined existed. And I found a lifelong friend in my mentor. I believe my story offers a message of hope. As my teacher’s wisdom and generosity helped me meet many challenges in my life and eventually free myself from debt, I hope that this retelling will help others. In some ways, my story appears to me to be the story of America at a certain moment in its history, when wealth and debt raced in a rivalry that mastered my life and the lives of so many people around me. My story is about my decision to end my participation in that race; in fact, to imagine my life in a new way that made the idea of a race beside the point.
This series represents an accurate portrayal of a crucial six months of my life, but even my efforts to fit my life into a story are open to questions, since I felt my life was more like a flood, moving me in ways and places that I would never have expected. This story is an account of some difficult and exciting times in the course of that joyous overflowing.
Professional Writers Association of Canada: www.pwac.ca
PWAC is a nationwide non-profit organization that plays a leading role in the Canadian freelance publishing industry. It has more than 600 members who write professionally in every arena: magazine and newspaper articles, books, speeches, newsletters, media releases, white papers, annual reports, advertising and brochure copy, sales and marketing material, web content, training manuals, film scripts, radio and television documentaries, and any other material on a freelance basis. PWAC develops and maintains professional standards in editor-writer and client-writer relationships, encourages higher industry standards and fees for freelance writing, publishes current freelance payment rate information, provides networking opportunities and professional development workshops and materials for members, and lobbies for freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Canada.
Prior to passage of the Copyright Act of 1976, a copyright owner who licensed her work for any purpose had to transfer the entire copyright to the buyer; she could not license only selected rights. The “indivisibility” of copyright led to unfair results for creators. For example, if a writer sold the right to publish a story to a magazine, the magazine legally became owner of the entire copyright exclusively. If a motion picture studio wanted to purchase the rights to the story, it did so from the magazine publisher; the writer was cut out. The 1976 Act addressed this injustice by making copyright divisible into specific exclusive rights and the exclusive rights of copyright subdivisible.
The Act gives the owner of a copyright the exclusive rights to exploit the work’s value by doing, or authorizing others to do, any of the following: reproduce the work, sell and distribute copies, perform the work publicly, display the work publicly, and prepare derivative works. Copyright is now often described as a bundle of rights, each of which may be licensed separately, exclusively or nonexclusively, by the owner.
In order to best capitalize on the value of your work, you should know how to subdivide the rights you grant to publishers and other parties. Appropriately limiting rights you license can allow you to earn more from your work by granting others the rights to make secondary uses. For example, freelance writers typically license certain rights to publish their stories to periodicals and retain other rights. The writer may subdivide the exclusive publication rights by territory, such as “first North American serial rights,” divide them further, for example granting “English-language first North American serial rights” (note that “first publication” rights are exclusive rights), or divide them into nonexclusive rights. All other rights are reserved to the writer.
The Canadian Authors Association (CAA) is a national organization with local branches in nine geographic regions and a “virtual branch,” dedicated to promoting a flourishing community of writers across Canada and to encourage works of literary and artistic merit. The CAA does this by establishing and maintaining professional standards, promoting professionalism, providing opportunities for professional development, and advocating for fair and equitable treatment of writers.
We can find an infinite variety of ways to complete that sentence. Take a trip. Buy clothing. Have a nicer home. Help the poor. Continue our education. The list flows on and on, as endless as the needs and dreams of human beings.
When we fantasize about what more money would bring us, we rarely distance ourselves so that we can see the fantasy as distinct from the money that would be needed to realize the fantasy. But which is more important: the money or the fantasy? The fantasy is within us, the money outside us. Because of this, the fantasy tells us what we desire. The money is neutral, silent as to who we are or what we desire.
An examination of money fantasies reveals our minds to us, the inmost workings of ourselves. For example, a man of thirty‑five yearns to leave his work and go to live on a tropical island. If only he had the money, he would go. If he forgets about the absence of money and welcomes the opportunity to explore his own thoughts, he may discover any number of truths: He fears the duties that he will have to perform if he is promoted; he is worried about his marriage but feels unable to confront his spouse; or even the banal possibility that he needs a vacation.
If the man stalls this self-examination by saying that he doesn’t have enough money, he loses the opportunity to see into himself. He goes through his days dreaming of another life, an unlived life filled with equatorial passions and spent on the sandy shores of exotic islands. He does not recognize that this other life, this island life, is illusory, a flight from his reality. He sees money as an adversary and chooses to live with his feelings of deprivation. However, his deprivation is not of money, but of self‑exploration.
We seldom think of the power that we mentally give to money. We are aware that we feel limited by the absence of money, or that we feel strengthened by possessing it. Yet money is truly powerless until we vivify it through the power of our minds. Money itself has never built a building, manufactured a product, performed an operation to save a life, or given sound investment advice. Especially in today’s world, money is valueless paper, valueless except for the consensual value that we give it.
P.E.N. American Center is an international community of writers, editors, translators, and others interested in the field of literature who work to defend free expression worldwide, support persecuted writers, and promote and encourage the recognition and reading of contemporary literature. Its 3,400 Professional Members include published writers, translators, and editors. The organization also includes Associate Members who come from other parts of the literary community—booksellers, librarians, students, and “passionate readers.” P.E.N. advocates for the free expression rights of writers and readers. It has member committees and groups focusing on translation, children’s/young adult authors, and a women’s literary workshop. Benefits include a journal, discounts to P.E.N.’s prominent public programs, such as its World Voices Festival of International Literature, health insurance at group rates in certain states, and a discounted subscription to its online database of Grants and Awards available to American Writers.