Since Monday I have experienced emotions between mild euphoria and despair. On Monday the books arrived, and since then I have been working on promoting it and giving copies to family and friends.

And then today I went to a bookstore, one of those that is going to have it on the shelves, and I saw that there were almost half-a-dozen others on the same topic. Books that weren’t there when I checked last time. Dismay arrived, and gloom followed when I recalled what someone told me recently, that only about 3% of writers can make a living from the profits from their books.

This means that I am, more or less, back to square one. Having spent years researching and writing a book that maybe less than a hundred people will read, I have to ask, was it worth it?

If you are about to say, ‘Even if you only help one person it was worth it’, don’t. I apologize for wanting to make some money out of my hard work and years of study, experience and thought, but helping people wasn’t the only reason I wrote the book. The book was my hope of showing people that I’m not a complete failure; that I might in fact be able to support a family by earning a decent income. But if it doesn’t sell that well, that hope is dead because I’m back to where I have been ever since I left high school: twenty years of unemployment broken only occasionally by brief periods of work. Not good work, either. Two days a week of contract work; seven months of full-time work but being only casual, no certainty of how long it would last.

Not that I’m unemployable: two Bachelor’s degrees -with all the skills in research and writing and organisation and information technology and communication and interaction with all kinds of people that tertiary study gives- qualifications in writing and in editing. I have worked on factory floors sweeping up wood dust, on mine sites as an exploration field worker, in office administration, and as assistant to the director of an organisation. But as I say, these were all part-time contract or temporary jobs.

I don’t have (as you’ll by now be thinking) personality defects and I’m not hideously ugly. I’m extremely average. I’ve left the jobs because my contracts were ended, not because the people didn’t like me or found me irretrievably incompetent.

So why? I ask: why is it that people can come here from Tanzania and can get jobs working as an orderly in a hospital, yet I’m turned down because I don’t have a Certificate III in Hospital Services Assistance or whatever it’s called? Of course you need qualifications to move objects from one place to another. Why is it that people can migrate here from England on working visas and get jobs instantly in local governments or private organisations, while I haven’t been able to find any job that would earn me more than 35,000 a year? Look again at my crude resume of qualifications and experience.

So if the book doesn’t sell, I’m back to square one – or rather, ground zero. The way the prices of food and utilities are rising, as well as my incapacity to find decent work, it won’t be long before I end up living in my car. Oh, that’s right: I can’t afford a car.

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