“Of our experience, we already know everything we know. It’s listening to what someone else knows that’s important.”
–Overheard in Edmonton
It was a phrase that caught me off guard, hanging in the air long after I’d mentally said goodbye to my fellow LRT-goer, who I would never meet. Simple, unassuming, and effective: The more you listen, the more you learn.
For the last six years, I’ve been a freelancer. Even when I was still at school, even when I worked full time as a server, an administrator, an intern, I managed a whole other venture on the side, building it step-by-step. Just six months ago, I decided to take the full brunt of it–I risked my livelihood in trusting my trade to vest the rewards for which my heart yearned: not just money, but freedom. And, I wanted to create a life that was only writing.
“What?” you may be asking. “Writers don’t make money doing what they love.”
Well, believe what you want, but right now I want to tell you how I am challenging those odds and making money writing for others, writing for myself, and writing exactly what I want to be writing–no regrets.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I mean, I never got hooked.
Could’ve happened of course, that’s always a danger when you’re a Trader. Got a whole supply at my fingertips, could tap in anytime I want–be like those kingpins over there, rattling their yellow teeth my way, hopped up on the stuff, eyes crazy. But that’s not my style. A Trader’s gotta be fair, has to be clean. If he ain’t he’ll just be pushing for his own benefit. That’s not what it’s about, you know? It’s about helping people.
I’ve been doing this a long time, know all the tricks. That’s why I can call this side of town my own; everyone comes to me. They know I’ll be good to them, that I won’t cheat. I’m running a good thing, here. Got drop points all over the place, a few Runners and a couple of Recruiters. Good ones too. But they all know I’ve only got one rule: don’t get hooked and I’ll keep paying. Get hooked, and I’ll make sure you pay double-double.
There’s a lady already on about her damn therapeutic hairless cats when I get in. Trying to catch my breath, I make it almost to the back row, but of course all 10 or 12 of them are drawn to the smell of what snuck in with me—the lovely, sultry, slightly burned aroma of a running vacuum cleaner needing a good empty.
Recently, SNAP gallery had this great flash fiction contest–writers were meant to create a 750 word story based on Gabriela Jolowicz‘s incredible work, PIVO (pictured)! Though I didn’t win, I am proud of the story I submitted, and have included it for your perusal below. (My humble thanks to the artist for the inspiration).
No one notices when you slip away, even in the bright orange light of a late autumn afternoon. Instead they sit on their daisy porches unaware of the chill in the air, complaining idly about the Penchant house’s awful lawn.
“It’s rats,” says one of them, sipping a sour lemonade.
“It’s this drought!” coughs another, wiping a grim, wrinkled hand over their parched mouth.
I myself couldn’t say exactly. I’d watched that house a long time; had grown up just across the street, the never-ending parade of “For Sale” signs forever planted in its front yard. One sits there now, dangling and dusty as it has been for the last six years, nothing but the neighbourhood cats willing to wind their way quickly across the lawn, whiskers high.
3 AM, downtown’s deserted. Just my truck and the road.
I shouldn’t have come this way, too high profile for carrying valuable cargo. Hitting every red light, besides. Good thing the cops are all busy with them murderers and ruddy fucks causing shit where they shouldn’t. I don’t plan on meeting any trouble. Not tonight, anyway.