Paying Bills vs Paying Dues

Occasionally, I’ll say something stupid out loud. (And, yes, I’m defining ‘occasionally’ quite liberally.)

Here are three recent examples:

1.  “Which one is the old timey guy, Henry Cabot Lodge or Adam Clayton Powell?”

2. “No, it’s that cheese with the Mexican words on the label.”

3. “I love paying bills.”

I will take my lumps for the first two, but I really do love paying bills. My friend mocked me, but I stood my ground, retorting, “It’s better than paying dues!”

I’m fairly certain I won that argument, but it was hard to tell, what with all the laughter and finger-pointing.

What I meant was, I’m no Pollyanna — wait. I am a little Pollyanna-ish, but I draw the line at saying, “I’m thankful thorns have roses!” In fact, now my keyboard feels sticky from all that syrup I just typed.

But I would always rather pay bills than pay dues.

I’m thankful I have money every month to pay my bills. I’m thankful for clean water, electricity, magazine subscriptions, blazing fast internet, and the ability to pick up the phone and talk to my kids scattered all over the world.

Bill paying feeds into a — I’ve come to realize — unique (some say ‘weird’ or ‘crazy’ but that’s probably because their vocabulary is limited) part of my personality. I love plastic storage bins, sharp crayons, lists, and balancing my checkbook, too.

Sometimes I even get the satisfaction of actually paying a bill off — owning a car outright, no more college loans, finally paying off the remodeling, burning the mortgage.

Dues, on the other hand, never get paid off. Well, not for me, anyway. Not my publishing dues.

I’ve spent many years now without much tangible to show for all the effort I’ve put into writing. The intangibles are many, however — lots of like-minded friends, better writing skills, the ability to dabble in many different genres.

But there are self-esteem issues and frustration — mostly low-grade, but also mostly constant. Another rejection?! Am I good enough? Why won’t they buy this? Why don’t I know how to plot better? Shouldn’t I know more words by now?

And then I remember what Sue Grafton says: “Writing is a craft that takes many years to develop. The publishing world is full of talented, hardworking writers who’ve struggled for years to learn the necessary skills. I counsel any writer to focus on the job at hand — learning to write well — trusting that when the time comes, the Universe will step in and make the rest possible. Writing isn’t about the destination — writing is the journey that transforms the soul and gives meaning to all else.”

Frankly, I love this journey so I guess I’ll keep paying my bills and paying my dues and trusting that the Universe knows what it’s doing. And, of course, I’ll continue to say stupid things out loud.

How ’bout you? Do you like paying bills? Have you “paid your dues” yet? Will you confess to saying stupid things out loud?

0 thoughts on “Paying Bills vs Paying Dues

  1. Claudia

    For many years, paying bills made me feel grown-up and responsible. Now, like many other things, it’s just another chore. Dues? I’m pretty cynical about that one…too many examples of people who just got lucky for me to buy into that.

  2. beckycc

    I don’t actually know anybody I’d consider “lucky.” Well, maybe those gorgeous creatures blessed with perfect good looks. But in most other situations I don’t believe in luck. I think luck is that sweet spot where preparation meets opportunity. I’ll continue to try and place myself there as often as possible. You know, since I wasn’t born with perfect good looks.

  3. Claudia

    How do you describe finding a $5 bill on the street? Or maybe I’m asking how one would “prepare” for that. And maybe the people I’m including in my description of “lucky” fall under your description as well–but just being prepared and/or meeting an opportunity doesn’t mean they have paid dues, and that was what you were originally talking about.

  4. beckycc

    I was originally talking about writing and publishing dues. Finding five bucks is lucky, but it ain’t part of a writerly career. Unless you find one every time you fire up your computer. THAT would be awesome!


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