A Penny For Your Thoughts

Calling all you penny-hoarders out there. Yup, I did say penny-hoarders.

If you’re a Canadian there’s a pretty good chance that you’re a penny-hoarder. Take heart, though, there are far worse things than hoarding pennies I wager. If you’ve ever seen the show Hoarders, you’re likely nodding your head.

I heard last night on the news that the average Canadian is hoarding at least 600 of these little copper beauties in jars and containers in their homes. I always wonder where these stats come from, how there’s some invisible force out there that knows exactly what I’m doing. Spooky.  Take this morning, as I was sitting down to breakfast, the radio show host claimed that 13% of all kids have hidden food in their socks from their parents. Really? I mean how do they know these things? And why the heck would anyone put food in a sock, and why is money being wasted to collect these useless, albeit fun stats, why?

As for these penny stats, I’ll admit there are pennies in my house; there have been for years.  Gee, does this mean my kids even hid food in their socks?

When the kids were small, their father began hoarding pennies in gallon jugs. Over the course of many years he’d managed to hoard a gallon of pennies for each of them. It was more of a novelty than anything, I suppose, important in a way that perhaps only another penny-hoarder would appreciate. Those pennies have long since been rolled and put back in circulation. At least I assume they’re in circulation. They could be sitting on someone else’s dresser or shoved into a drawer never to see the light of day.

Today, businesses will begin rounding up or down, and the Canadian Mint has announced it will no longer be making pennies. It just costs too much. They’ll be gathering them all in and melting them down, and the penny will be no more. And this morning, Google.ca is paying tribute to our penny, as only Google can, so you know it’s got to be a big deal, right?

And what about a penny for your thoughts? Has anyone thought of that? Will it now be replaced by a nickel for your thoughts? My guess is that old saying will slowly be taken out of circulation as well as soon as this next generation comes along.

If you’ve been hoarding pennies for years and have decided to finally part company with them, here’s a good thing to know. The 1936-penny with a dot is worth mega-bucks. Last night on the news they said only three were ever found in circulation. Now, something makes me think that more that three were put out in circulation that year! Makes you wonder where they could be? You know what that means, don’t you? Some penny-hoarder out there could be sitting on a gold mine. It might even be you—um, or me! Hey, I’m just an average Canadian living my average life. I know you won’t judge me since you’re probably just as average as me. Come on, fess up!

So if you’re planning to roll up your 600 pennies today and exchange them for “real money” you might want to check the dates. I’m all for finding out I’ve been rich for years and didn’t know it. Better late than never, I say.

Now here’s a moment of truth for my fellow Canadians, have you been hoarding pennies for years? Do you have at least 600 of those puppies pennies sitting around gathering dust? And my American friends are you an average Canadian? Do you have at least 600 pennies hoarded away? And lastly, for all you penny-hoarders out there, have you been hoarding for a specific reason, you know saving up for something really big like your next car or something?

 

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That’s Me—Writer Groupie!

My name is Laura Best and I am a writer groupie.

I never knew this before, but apparently there IS a word for what’s ailing me( if you call it ailing) —- “writer groupie.” And doesn’t that sound totally lame? I mean anything with the word groupie attached to it. Makes you sound so…so… I don’t know…desperate.

I discovered this tidbit over at Fitch Happens. Sheree wrote that even though she’s a writer, she’s a reader first. She spoke about how precious her signed copies of books are. She openly admitted to sniffing the ink on the page. She was not ashamed.

Let me be straight about this: I have NEVER sniffed ink.(Not that I believe that ink sniffing is wrong , mind you, or even beneath me. If you’re an ink-sniffer that’s perfectly fine by me.) I’m not even sure that ink gives off an odor, not from your regular run-of-the-mill ballpoint at any rate, but who am I to argue?

The truth is, the thought never crossed my mind….. I’m just not a sniffer by nature unless it’s something that is sniffable– flowers, skin products, perfume, spices—you get my drift. My daughter is a sniffer. Whenever she opens a gift she smells it regardless of what it is. Got it from her grandmother on her father’s side. It’s a family joke or, quite possibly, a tradition. We sit around and watch each Christmas, and yes, she does it every time. Does this mean we’re strange?

Nope. I’m definitely not an ink sniffer….Yet now the thought is there, isn’t it? I do have signed books, you know.

I could deny the word— writer groupie, and yet I think the signs are there…..I show up at book signing, have my picture snapped with various authors all in hopes of creating this scrapbook for Miss Charlotte. I love meeting other authors and chatting with them. I flock to where authors are hanging out. AND I have photos to go along with my signed books from: Syr Ruus, Jan Coates, JoAnn Yhard, Helene Boudreau, Margaret Atwood, Budge Wilson, Steve Vernon, Jill MacLean, Sheree Fitch, Star Dobson, … I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting at the moment of writing this, and there will be more in the future.

I remember when I was off signing copies of my novel. A few people came prepared to get photos so I guess I’m not the only one. It was actually kind of cool to think that someone wanted their photo snapped with me. I mean me, really. I wonder at this moment how Margaret Atwood feels, she’s probably in more scrapbooks and photo albums than any other Canadian writer.

Still, there are worse things in life I suspect. I won’t bother naming them at the moment.. I’ll just curl up on the sofa with my photos and books and resists the urge to sniff ink.

Be honest, are you a writer groupie? Do you have signed copies of books from authors that you would never part with? Have you ever sniffed the ink on a page?

I Hate To Burst My Own Bubble

Okay , so I’m not going to get rich from writing unless it’s by some fluke accident, but then I’ve pretty much known that all my writing life. The truth of it is people, you can believe me when I say, most of us don’t write for the fame and riches.

Here in Canada winning the $50,000 Giller Prize or collecting a large advance would be a dream come true. But the truth is, you might have more chance at winning big on the lottery. Depressing thoughts for some, I suppose.

Although these things do happen they are definitely the exception. Most writers do not receive a huge advance or see their book on the bestseller lists. As Canadians— we are always told, ‘ Here in Canada..’— it’s a bit of a sobering thought for some.

According to Statistics Canada, a Canadian writer on average makes between $18,000 and $22,000 annually from his or her writing – and this includes royalties from book sales as well as income from grants, giving readings and workshops, writing reviews for magazines and newspapers, and earning a yearly stipend from the Public Lending Right Commission. I should add monies received from access copyright here as well.

Suffice it to say many authors do not give workshops or visit schools and, from my own experience, receiving a writing grant is no easy feat. In theory it sounds wonderful but the truth of it is many writers find them near impossible to get. Not to mention the fact that not everyone can take a leave from their work in order to write full time. Many of us hold down other jobs to pay the bills and make ends meet. If we had to live off the fruits of our labour we’d starve to death for sure.

One statistic from back in 2005, estimated that 3,000 Canadian authors – which amounts to 11 per cent of the total 27,500 who identified themselves either as self-employed or salaried writers – reported no earnings from their writing. Hmmm. No earnings… Not difficult to figure out why many of us need to work at other jobs, is it? I don’t know any other job where you report zero earnings. Eeek!

So there are all the sobering facts for Canadian writers. Impressive, aren’t they? Some might say we Canadian are a depressing bunch to even be looking at these dismal statistics. The truth of it is most writers here in Canada are more than aware of these facts and if writing was something we did to gain fame and riches we sure as heck wouldn’t be writing. Can you blame us?

But for me, for many of us, writing is more about self-expression than making it big. Most writers write as a means of nurturing our creative minds, challenging ourselves to produce gloriously beautiful prose, and finally sharing what we’ve created with those who are interested in reading what we’ve written. Many of the writers I’ve spoken to over the past year have told me that holding their book in their hands was far more rewarding than any advance or royalties they may have received.

So here I am. Writing because writing is what makes me feel fulfilled, certainly not the meager earnings I can expect to receive from my creative endeavors. Am I optimistic that one day I will be able to retire and write full time? You bet! If a writer didn’t remain optimistic we wouldn’t subject ourselves to the torture of submitting again and again and again.

So while my bubble didn’t suddenly burst, and while I always expect that there are exceptions to every rule—and hey, I might just be that exception. Right?—the statistics speak for themselves. So I’m here, opening myself up on the page for others to praise or to scrutinize, not for fame and riches, but to feed some inner need, to make me feel complete.

How about you, what are your honest expectations as a writer?

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