WILL WRITE MYTHOS FOR SCHOOL (Buy my new fiction, help me pay for college!)

Pre-order my new Mythos mini-collection through GoFundMe

Some of you know that the last few years, life has been extra difficult. I’ve had a bad landlord, a car crash, medical problems, lost my day job… with each new issue, I’ve struggled to keep my bills paid and care for my son, who has a severe speech disorder and special needs.

The overarching theme lately has been money: I don’t have enough of it. We’re officially living in poverty, my son and I, so when something happens, we can’t pay to fix it. I need a bigger income; I need to be more employable. Rather than continuing to need help over and over again, I went back to college in hope of finally getting my BA, and finding solid work.

tuition

Behold, my tuition bill!

Right now, I’m paying for it myself. I currently owe for one of my Spring classes (I paid for the rest) and one class this Summer. Together, that’s almost $1300. I’ve set the fundraiser for $1500 to cover the fees GoFundMe will charge, and to pay for one textbook this summer.

Paying for school is something I have to do on top of rent and food and basic utilities. It’s a cost above what I have to pay for my medical expenses. With thyroid surgery in two weeks, I don’t see any way to do it all. Plus, if I can’t pay for my classes by May 31, I won’t be able to register for Fall in time to get into classes only availble one time a year. My goal is to graduate with my AA in May 2017, before transferring for my BA, so this should be my one chance at Fall-only classes. I need to get into them.

As a reward, when I’ve met my goal, I’ll release an ebook of five Mythos fiction short stories to all of my backers, no matter how much you contribute. This will include two pieces previously published by Chaosium, that aren’t available anywhere else, and three new stories no one has laid eyes (or tentacles) on. I’m creating original interior art for the project, and the ebook package will include .epub, .mobi (for Kindle), and .PDF. There’s even reward levels if you want to get extra stuff back.

You can contribute because I’m a good person going through a hard time. You can contribute because you like my writing and want to see more of it. You can contribute because you haven’t had to roll a SAN check recently. No matter why you lend a hand, I appreciate you.

Thank you.

Carrie Cuinn

PS. If you’d rather contribute by PayPal, which doesn’t charge quite as much as GoFundMe, you can send money using this link . If you do, I’ll add it manually, so the total amount needed goes down.

#SFWAPro

The Poverty/Special Needs Conundrum

I originally shared this on Facebook, but I realized there are people I only know online, who’ve supported my work or contributed to my GoFundMe campaign, who might want to understand this too.

I want to work. I believe that having a stable, fiscally awesome dayjob will help me to write, by giving me security, rather than get in the way. It isn’t following my dreams that keeps me from wanting to be in an office full time. It’s actually how much money I can make right now that’s the problem.

I can’t work outside of school hours without specially-trained care for my son. The state will provide this, as long as I don’t make too much money. (I know how lucky this makes me; most states don’t offer as much support.) “Too much” is about what I make from an average admin position. “Too much” just barely pays the rent in this town.

So, I work, and then lose my childcare, so I can’t work. Thus I’ve only worked about 9 months at a time, my last couple of jobs, and I have to go through a ton of paperwork each time.

In order to work, I need to make more, enough to cover expenses plus childcare – but to get those positions, I need a degree in business. Okay, so, I’ll go back to college for that… But while I’m in college, I’m not working, not paying my bills.

In the long run, college will provide for me and my son. Right now, because I was barely holding on and now there’s a delay in my unemployment benefits*, my rent check just bounced. I have no way to get the money I need in the next few days. I could quit college and go back to work, but that only helps for a few months, and I’m right back here again. So… I have to stay in school. I don’t have another choice.

It’s not always obvious, the things that keep people in poverty and debt. It isn’t always easy to fix. But at least now you know a little more about me.

If you can and want to help me, here’s what would help the most:

You can donate to me via PayPal by sending it to carrie@cuinnedits.com

You can contribute to my GoFundMe campaign

You can hire me for editing work! I’ll also do ghostwriting, content creation, eBook creation, formatting, anything, just ask. Check out my editing site at http://cuinnedits.com.

Thank you.

* I get a small unemployment payment on weeks I don’t do any freelance work, at least until the end of 2015. The last three weeks, my payments haven’t gone through. I spoke to unemployment; my worker didn’t properly remove the hold after a mandatory meeting – which I attended -even though I’ve contacted her twice since and she’s insisted it was done. Meanwhile, she swore I’d have the money already, which is why I sent the rent check. I emailed her again today. The main office also put in a request to take off the hold, but it will be end of the week before it’s done, so mid next week before I find out if I’ll even get the money I’ve been due for three weeks now.

On Failing, Fear, And Learning to Learn Better

I’m halfway through my first semester back in college. So far, I’ve:

  • borrowed, begged, and asked for help to pay my bills without a dayjob.
  • come down with a cold that turned into bronchitis, which meant I…
    • couldn’t go to a doctor because I no longer have health insurance.
    • spent 3+ weeks sleeping.
    • got behind in some of my online classes and had to drop my traditional (in-person) classes, because I couldn’t manage the 35 mile drive EACH WAY to campus while sick.
  • added new online classes to keep my status above full-time.
  • took quizzes, tests in all of my classes; did homework; participated in discussions – basically, all the parts of a class, with a mix of grades from As to Cs.
  • figured out how much I didn’t know about going to college with my life the way it is now.

Or to put it another way: I struggled. I set goals I didn’t meet. I was sick and exhausted, I fell behind, I left myself down (and probably some other people, too), and I felt like a failure.

Because, to be honest, in some ways I am failing. I am not doing as well as I had hoped, making this transition back to college. That’s just a fact.

Yesterday, I wanted to give up. It wasn’t the first time, but it hit me hard. I took a huge risk, going back to college now, doing without a dayjob. I’d hoped to do more freelancing, but being sick meant I haven’t pursued any new work for weeks, so I haven’t even had that income. I’ve gotten a surprising amount of support – thank you! – and with that comes the internal pressure of not wanting to let anyone down. If I don’t do well this semester, I’ve wasted this time, this opportunity. Put my son through this for nothing. Leaned on people who were there for me without anything to show for their faith in me.

It’s tempting to quit. Scrap this whole semester. Recover from being ill. Catch up on everything I’m behind on. Start fresh next semester.

Yesterday, I told my person how awful I was feeling. His response was perfect: that it sucked to feel that way, but I wasn’t a failure, I wasn’t alone, and we’d sit down and talk about where I’m at, and what I need. Just it’s okay to feel defeated and let’s sort out where you really are vs what you’re feeling and you’re not giving up, so make a plan based on your options now.

That’s what I’ve been trying to do all along, and what I needed to be reminded of. I’m not giving up. I’m not running away. Just because it’s harder than I expected or no fun or I’m not succeeding as easily as I want – those aren’t reasons to quit. That’s not who I am.

Instead, I reconsidered the goal posts. (It might be three semesters at community college before I can transfer, instead of two. Would that really be so bad? No, I guess not.) I thought about why I’m struggling. (I definitely need to study more, and research beyond the textbook, to find the information the class assumes I know but I actually don’t.) I thought about why I had certain expectations of myself, and why I judge myself as harshly as I do. (As my friend Mary told me, “You’re not failing. You’re tired. And that’s okay.” Until she said it, I wouldn’t have seen myself that way.)

As much as I hate to feel like a failure at this moment, I think I can learn from all of this. The lessons for me will be: don’t give up, and learn how to be a better student.

Going to school now is not like when I was in college before, and assuming I could easily pick up where I left off is part of what threw me off course. Another part of falling behind was that some of my classes are second or third classes in a series I started when I was in college six or so years ago… I’d thought that because I’d aced those courses before, I’d be okay now. It turns out, I’d forgotten things I didn’t know I was missing.

In some cases, like my International Business class, the work is mainly conceptual. I can read the textbooks and consider the ideas presented, and I’m able to access the information when I take the test. Easy. No problem. In other classes, Accounting and Econ, it’s more terms and formulas that I haven’t been using. Like taking Spanish 2 a decade after you got an A in Spanish one, without so much as having asked “donde es la Bibliotheca?” one time in between.

As of late last night, I’ve caught up on all of my schoolwork. There are things I can’t make up, which will affect my final grades, but going forward I can stay on top of my assignments. I’ve looked at how I study, how I plan my work, and figured out what I need to change. I’ve had to create a new system of tracking what’s due, and what I need to study for. I print out study guides and watch instructional videos. I stay up late to take online tests after my son’s asleep. I examine every wrong answer, every mistake, every failure.

We’re not always going to immediately succeed. Not at college, or writing a novel, or anything in life. Mostly, when we fail, we want to stop trying and do something else. Some people, that’s all they do: run from one thing to the next to the next, looking for that instant and easy success, followed by the admiration of others, and if they don’t get it, they move on again. I can’t do that, not if I ever really want to change my life.

I am tired of failing. I have so done much of it the last couple of years. But when I stop trying to sweep my mistakes under the rug, I start learning from them. Learning to accept that I’d screwed up. (Everyone does.) Learning how to fix my problems. Learning to be brave, to try new things, take bold chances. Learning how to learn better.

I may not get all As this semester, and I may feel dumb a lot of the time as I try to learn this stuff, but I’m not alone, and I’m not quitting.

Class I’m taking, Fall 2015

In case you missed it, I’m going back to college, starting at the end of August, as part of my four-step plan for world dominion success:

1) Go back to college. Finally get a Bachelor’s degree. (In something more likely to lead to a permanent position.)

2) Get a good job with decent benefits, where I am sufficiently valued that I won’t be a faceless, disposable, cog in the machine.

3) By staying on budget, get out of debt, and begin to line the cave with gold (aka, build up a savings).

4) NEVER WORRY ABOUT SUPPORTING MY FAMILY AGAIN.

After meeting with my advisor, I ended up registered for 17 units. Six classes. Basically, everything they’d let me take. That means that in the Spring, I only need to take three classes, all online. I’ll take at least four in order to be “full time”, but having that cushion of space means I’ve got room to take something where if the registrar suddenly figures out I need one more thing to graduate…

By next summer, I’ll have an AS degree in Business Adminstration, and I’ll be ready to do my year at state to get my BS.

To that, this semester I’m taking:

Intro to Databases
Principles of Accounting 2
International Business
Principles of Microeconomics
Fundamentals of Speech
Principles of Biology 2 (+ lab)

I’ve got to be on campus for the Speech and Bio classes; I was hoping to avoid it, because campus is 30 miles away, in another county. So it’s classes plus a 45 minute commute, each way, three days a week. At least the trip is beautiful, a winding drive through rolling hills and farmland. And it’s better to do this commute now, in the fall, before winter and five months of snow kick in.

I’m getting closer to actually being able to pay for all this. I’ve secured grants to cover my tuition itself. Not covered? Books. Lots of heavy, expensive books. Even renting them instead of buying them, they’ll run just over $700 for this semester, and I need that money in the next two weeks before classes start. (On top of my usual bills + groceries this month.)

Well at least it's not just me...

Well at least it’s not just me…

So if you’ve got work that needs doing, email me, maybe?