I get asked by a lot of people, “So, what is it that you do?”
Apparently writing isn’t an answer that most people are prepared to hear. They don’t seem to understand it. And I’ll admit, being the person who stays home and does it, I don’t fully “get it,” either. It isn’t a 9-to-5 gig like most people have. I write for contest deadlines, and publication deadlines and to get into workshops. And once I have amassed a certain quantity of materials in the same vein, I start considering putting together a new self-published book. All of which is far more daunting than it sounds, I assure you. Also, in case you have ever wondered, writing is not what pays the bills. My husband pays the bills, in all honesty. That’s hard to admit; I like to think that I’m decent at what I do, but the truth is, I’ve not found a way to make what I do pay off monetarily. And until I become a much better fiction writer, get an agent and a publicist, and start writing novels instead of short story collections, I probably never will. Those are all things that I hate admitting to anyone, especially to myself. But, there they are.
It’s a good thing that I don’t write for the money, then, or I would likely be disheartened by everything I’ve just written. I don’t equate success with dollar signs. I can’t, or I would have given up a long time ago.
So, what is it that I do?
When I’m not writing, I have a side hustle selling Duran Duran memorabilia to make some extra money. Sometimes it’s more successful than other times. It’s hit-and-miss and sometimes I invest way more than I get back out of what I can sell. That has often been the case over the past few years.
Over the past few months, though, we have had what we call the #CharlottesvilleCollection. My dear friends Andy “Durandy” Golub and Christine Born, in Seattle, first alerted me to this lady in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Fall, who was getting rid of her entire Duran Duran collection. And it was vast. Several boxes. They had been made aware of it by another friend, Therese, in Norway. As fate would have it – or, as I see it, God – I was scheduled to have Lasik eye surgery in Roanoke, Virginia, around this same time, and Charlottesville is a mere two hours each way from Roanoke. Roanoke is about 2.5 hours from where I live in Bristol, Tennessee, on the Tennessee-Virginia state line. And Russ is not only supportive in my writing endeavors; he is supportive in my side hustle, too. So, the day after my eye surgery, we set out for Charlottesville and packed up, sight unseen, a collection that has been a pleasant surprise, overall.
I have intentionally taken it slow with the #CharlottesvilleCollection. Not knowing the collection myself, I’ve wanted to inspect it and see what was there. Has it all been great? Of course not. There was a box of nothing but 80’s compilation CD’s that only had one Duran Duran song on each. While I have to admire the previous owner’s fortitude and commitment to the band to find all of that, there was very little (almost zero) interest from my buyers for anything in that box. The two trash bags of t-shirts, on the other hand, were a smashing success. There have been some great boot leg CD’s, some highly collectible books (one of which was falling apart and broke my heart – it was the biography by Neil Gaiman and I literally shed tears over its condition – it looked great, but upon opening it, the spine just gave way and it went from being a $150 book to being worth almost nothing). I have sent items to customers and friends across the US, and in Mexico, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Norway, Finland, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Croatia, to name a few of the places the collection has been parceled out to. I think it is safe to say that the #CharlottesvilleCollection has taken on a life of its own, for certain.
So, how did I find these buyers? I have a Facebook page, where I started selling off my own Duran Duran collection about five years ago (go to Facebook and search for “Duran Duran Items For Sale” to find it). When my Papaw Little died, I dealt with grief by buying a lot of stuff on ebay. Things that I didn’t even open. Seriously, I found items in 2018 and 2019 that I won in ebay auctions in 2013 and 2014 that I had never opened. It was just “getting” it that got me through while he was sick and I was helping to take care of him, and after he died. When Mamaw Little died in 2016, I saw how no one wanted her collectibles. They were basically given away because no one cared about them; no one understood their value or could be bothered to learn about them. I decided then that I didn’t want the tubs and tubs of Duran Duran stuff that I had sitting around here to end up like that if something happened to me. And they would. There was no one to leave that collection to in a will. There was no inventory of it. I had no idea what I had – or how many of them. In many cases, I had multiples of many things, just because I liked the way it looked. I had no clue what things were worth when I bought them. I just bought them. To be buying them. Selling them was a deep learning curve. Three kind-hearted Duranie friends – Jeff, Peter, and Andy – helped me out so much along the way, answering questions day and night about anything. And if one didn’t know the answer, one of the other two almost certainly did. I sold some things on ebay, but never cared for the format and the fees. I still don’t understand either, but am forced occasionally to turn to that service to sell things that I can’t sell otherwise. But ebay is still a pain in the behind…
We still have one box in the #CharlottesvilleCollection before we get to the box of 7” vinyl and the box-and-a-half of 12” vinyl. Everyone is eager for me to get to the vinyl. In all honesty, I dread it. Managing all of that will be a challenge. Researching what is there, inspecting it for conditions and grading it, and pricing it will all be daunting tasks. I can’t imagine how many hours will go into it. Plus the actual selling and packaging and taking it to the post office. Customs forms. Each individual piece of vinyl, each sleeve, each cover has to be examined and inspected individually, and graded honestly based on a set system. That will truly take weeks if I do it correctly and thoroughly…
I’m excited for others as to what we may find there, though. Hopefully some treasures that people are looking for. Hopefully all of it will find loving homes. Yes, I do actually care that it goes to people who will take care of it and appreciate it. Call me corny. But I’m a collector at heart, and I still love the band (in case you hadn’t guessed by now). Helping other people add to their own collections makes me feel good on a personal level, not just the business side.
So, I write. But I also sell Duran Duran stuff. That’s kinda what I do. But realistically, my husband pays the bills.