Tuesday, January 20, 2015

In Which I Ponder Things, and Probably Whine A Little

Or maybe I whine a lot. Not that I'm feeling whiny, but it's hard to lament (not to be confused with complaining) the fact that I can't write the way I want to, without feeling like you sound at least a little whiny, since the reason I can write the way I want to is because I have a job, which is paying the bills since writing is not.

But I digress.

With all of the backlash and discussion about Stacey Jay it really makes me look at my own situation. I found the entire thing shocking, that an established author with a fan base would meet with such indignant rage. Admitting that maybe *how* Stacey carried out the kickstarter, she still didn't do anything wrong. In fact, I just googled 'author kickstarter backlash' and found pages of authors and independent directors, and other people all promising to create stuff if you pay for them to be able to create it. So why naysayers fixated on Stacey, I'll never understand. Anyway, the thing that scared me the most about all of that, is that I would have already done something like a kickstarter if I thought it would  bring in enough money to allow me to write full-time. And I'm not a published author. But the idea would be that I could write something, and self publish it and those who funded the project would get their book, and I'd get to write full-time.

Now I know that this fantasy of mine is just that, a fantasy. It's not logistically or rationally sound all the way through. But it seems like it could be the best idea ever. And if I ever managed to get an agent, then a publisher and actually sell a book, you're damn straight I'd do a kickstarter to fund other books if that was what it took to stay published, because I already made it, I'm not about to fold and go home now. And to be fair I'd probably do a kickstarter in regard to, say, the memoir I'm working on that involves a local historic estate, with photographs and stuff, prints of which could be included as pledge rewards, etc. It would be more feasible and marketable than an unknown fiction. Plus, since I live right where the book is set, I've got the ability to put it out in the public that would be most interested in it.

But I digress again.

The point of all of this, I suppose, is just to ponder how much us authors are willing to do, and risk, in order to be able to write. I spent thirteen years working on a farm that gave me much more time to write and create, and I spent every moment that didn't involve farm work, or horse work, on writing work and trying to better myself as an author.

Now I'm in a job that has cut my writing time by more than half. I'm literally (on average) down to writing (and by the word 'writing' I mean first drafts, second drafts, editing, working on critique partners' stuff, queries, etc) from 8-bedtime in the evenings. And I get up at 6am. Which, if I'm lucky, and I don't happen to have insomnia (thank you, blood thinners, and it's not a writeable type of insomnia, just an brain dead no sleep type) means I get two hours. TWO HOURS. I know for some writers, that's a huge block of time. But for me, who was accustomed to basically 8-9 hours a day of 'available' writing time (even when I was at work on the farm, I could often write) it's been extremely difficult to use that those two hours productively. As a panster, I'm used to just sitting down and going with it. But now I've got to triage WIPs into what is more viable, or marketable (in a broad sense, vampire vs something totally not done, or whatever) and at the same time balance anything else that needs tending, like editing finished drafts, or anything else in the stages of writing. As a result, I've shelved the only competitive manuscript (still with an agent and publisher, but I'm a realist and not holding my breath by now) and I'm not even thinking about agents at the moment. If I had any sort of guiding necessity (deadlines, agent guidance, whatever) it would be much easier. Instead, I'm in this very vexing position of 'the sky is the limit, just keep writing and create but only do it in two hours - in the evening, even though you're often a morning writer - and that's it'.

I find myself evaluating how little I could live on, but in todays economy, I'm pretty much already there. *If* nothing comes up unexpectedly, I *might* be able to put aside a little money every month. That's if I do not travel anywhere, do not buy anything extra, do not use money for anything besides established bills (phone, groceries, health insurance and one, small, credit card, standard animal maintenance) The moment crap hits the fan, any money saved is gone. At the moment, on top of regular bills, I've got one cat on $260 a month medicine (for at least 6 months) another who's hit old man stage and needs dental work, $700 on top of the $300 that just went out the door to get him prepared for the dental stuff (vet trip to have a senior work-up and blood tests to make sure there's no other health concerns) and along with that, all my own bills that are accruing with this blood clot. Because, we wouldn't want the health insurance to actually pay for anything health related, would we? Still bracing for the ultrasound bill from when I was diagnosed, plus all the blood work, which will continue weekly, since I'm not on Coumadin, which I could afford, unlike the synthetic blood thinners they originally put me on, but I couldn't afford. Not that I'd rather be dead from a thrown clot. I've got tons of family support, I'm going to be fine. The point is, this is a struggle with a full-time job. I don't see how it's possible for someone like me (single, childless) to ever just 'quit and write' like I read about authors doing.

Are there any other single writers out there who don't have significant other income to rely on? Any helpful tips for a panster who's trying to squash herself into a small cubicle of strict structure?