Writing From the Right Side of the Stall

Mucking stalls. Freelance writing. How do they differ? I discuss.

I was going to call this, “It was the Worst of Times, it was the Worst of Times” but I thought that would be too much of a downer …

Just when I was starting to feel just a smidge optimistic, someone sent me this link, which doesn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but it’s depressing seeing it in print (again):  Journalists Don’t Make Money.

That said, I thought I’d post something positive about my profession:  I did not loathe the Royal Winter Fair this year.

Maybe that had to do with the parking passes my friend Michelle magically came up with for me — it’s amazing how not having to cough up $15 per night lightens the mood when you’re always worrying about where the Ramen noodles are coming from.  Also must’ve chosen more humane shoes this year, because while my feet were sore each night by the time I hobbled back to my underground truck, I escaped without actual blisters and the band-aid collection in my purse remained undisturbed.

I even managed (knock wood, in case it’s still lurking in my alveoli) to escape the Royal Flu, which is the usual consequence of spending 10 days under the same roof with 30,000 infectious people.  My immune system has been kind this year.

And I accomplished most of what I planned to accomplish while I was there.  Including buying lovely goat cheese with cranberry port sauce at a discount price, which is an annual objective.  (It’ll make a nice change from the Ramen.)

Though filing one’s stories on the same night for an on-line publication is kind of a grind (I remember back in the good old days, we used to actually party a bit at the Royal, at the end of the night …. those days are long gone!), there’s something satisfying about seeing your report in (virtual) print the next morning.  And about knowing the deadline’s been taken care of and isn’t looming over your head anymore (though the next one is, of course!).

In the midst of my daily Royal coverage, I was also trying to juggle a number of harness racing assignments and some agricultural ones (some Royal-related, some not).  That I have any hair left is a minor miracle … not that I’m ever going to complain about having too much work.  It’s vastly preferable to not having enough.  It would just be nice if the powers that be could spread it out a little.  But I got it all done, more or less — including one major article that I literally pulled OUT of my ASS in the course of one day, little does my editor know — and that also gives me a tiny little sense of accomplishment.

So long story short, I restrained myself from going postal on anyone this year, scraped together enough money each day not to starve, and got a new pair of riding gloves and a cheap halter for my gelding, Spike, in the trade fair.  (Yes, I went nuts.)  I got to hang out with Mark Todd (We Are Not Worthy), saw a few friends and did not really have to suffer much of the company of the few colleagues I’m not that fond of, didn’t freeze my velvet-clad tush in the warm-up ring for a change, and indulged in an apple dumpling and a cinnamon bun (ahem, not on the same night), both of which are Things Emblematic of the Royal and Must Be Consumed Regardless of the Heart-Stopping Calorie Counts.

Exhausting.  But relatively good.

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