Saturday, January 17, 2009

'FESSING UP: We Share Our OWN Broke Story

Over the last few weeks, many of you have sent us Your Best Broke Story—stories that have been hilarious, surprising and heartwarming. We are grateful that so many of you have opened up and revealed personal, private details of your lives. So as the deadline for our online Tell Us Your Best Broke Story Contest approaches (1/20/09)
we thought we would share our very own “Broke Story” with you...

The journey that Thomasina “Tee” Hodges takes us on in What Doesn’t Kill You—from well paid professional to outplaced ex-employee who can no longer “handle her business,” is certainly a timely story which will resonate with a wide audience. There are people all around us who have gotten that call to visit HR and clean out their desks and are terrified because without their job, they won’t be able to afford to buy gasoline or groceries, keep the lights on, or cope with any of the unexpected little emergencies that become a big deal when you don’t have the money to handle them. Then there are those of us who, even though employed, live in fear the pink slip is coming, and don’t know what they would do without the next paycheck.

But Tee’s story is not one we tell from the outside in. Her trip from denial, to anger to acceptance and ultimately to reinvestment in her life is one we know intimately because both directly and indirectly we have lived through it, and it wasn’t pretty. It has been a six year long, down and dirty test of personal strength, our commitment to our craft and our friendship. Parts of the struggle are ongoing, but writing WDKY was a way to begin to take some extremely negative energy and make it into something positive.

There are very few people who know any of the details of how difficult these years have been—what it has taken to keep going, one inch at a time, but by opening up we hope to show readers that they aren’t “the only ones.”

For Virginia the situation started at the confluence of an unexpectedly large tax bill—ironically the result of a good earnings year—and a large sum of money that was contractually due to us – but turned to dust, leaving a devastating financial chasm and nowhere to go but down. As a result, savings evaporated, jobs eluded and bills mounted. So a great many of the hardships Tee goes through in WDKY are related not from knowledge acquired through research, but from having been there, done that and you can keep the t-shirt—thank you very much (Virginia really did learn how to fill her own tooth, and have a job where the commute was 2 hours each way).

On Donna’s part—it was about being Julie and Ron and all the folks who rallied to support Tee when she needed it. While the financial hardship hit Donna equally, she had great good fortune to have a wonderful husband who not only mitigated the burden of the monetary loss, but together, for almost two years, they totally supported Virginia.

In terms of the writing partnership, Virginia was ready to chuck it—without knowing what she would do instead, but Donna was not prepared to let the team go down like that. While the struggle was just as real, this was a darker and more difficult time than at the beginning when we were writing Tryin’ to Sleep. Back then, like Tee, we were full of “hope and expectation” which provides a much better head of steam than resentment and frustration. But because Donna continued to take steps forward in the direction we needed to go and coaxed Virginia to come along we were able to work ourselves back into writing the kinds of books that our readers have come to enjoy.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 9:25 AM


Blogger Carleen Brice said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I can relate, and appreciate it as a person and as a fellow writer.

11:20 AM  

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