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Savannah Sweetwater

Mystery Author

Side Gigs

Last night I wrote this long post about the actor Geoffrey Owens, once a Cosby Show regular, and his recent foray back into the news cycle after a woman spotted him bagging groceries at a Trader Joe's.

And tonight, I accidentally deleted the whole damn thing.

Since I failed to back it up with a copy on my PC I can tell you only this: I have a problem shaming artists for working side gigs between jobs. It hits me in the guts. I write daily. Every. Single. Day. But I sure don't sell books every day. 

For years I worked for small, locally owned newspapers. I freelanced, because in this digital world that's the best you expect, at least I was told. I've written ebooks for lawyers and therapists, composed newsletters and written content for fundraising websites, even published in magazines, both print and digital. I've ghostwritten, edited, even had my own column for a little while. But I still wouldn't have made it without my husband's job backing me up.

After a bit, I grabbed a couple of state-level journalism nods. Those were bucket list moments, letmetellya.

But now it's come down to this: I left the newspaper and freelance world behind. Now I have a day job, a regular ol' job that requires no writing. I'm home every day and I write all afternoon and evening. If my family comes to visit, they know I'll have a laptop or tablet nearby. It's just what I do.

So Mr. Owens was found bagging groceries and some lady decided to snap his photo and release it out into the wild blue cyber yonder. You know what? I don't care what her intentions were. What she did makes her a jerk in my eyes. Like most people, the man in the photo she grabbed on her cell phone has aged, gained some weight. I'm sure he didn't sit in the makeup chair before his shift that day.

What she released into the world was a slap in the face of hard-working artists of all stripes, actor, painter, writer all. There is not a fantasy life on the other side of a publishing contract, or a TV gig, or even a journalism award.

I struggle to sell and market the books I write. But that's okay. Someday, I'm sure it's going to pick up. Thing is, with my day job I don't have to make my words make money. I've had weekends over the summer when my two-day word count was over 10,000. In a single weekend. That's a big deal for me. 

So, maybe to the world at large, there's shame when you work between creative gigs, maybe doing the things I do every morning to put food on the table makes me something worthy of shame, or worst, pity.

I hope I've recaptured everything from that original post. It doesn't really matter. Whenever the news cycle forgets Geoffrey Owens he'll still have some new gigs lined up and for that, I say let's raise a glass. And for him and every other artist out there, whether it's a side gig or the real deal, keep working at it. Maybe none of us will win huge awards or sell millions of books, but at the end of this road, I'm pretty sure that's not what will matter.

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