My job doesn’t pay enough.
I like it, I’ve invested a lot of time and effort to help my students, and to help myself enjoy it. But I don’t earn enough from it, and I doubt I ever will. My wife also works full-time. She earns more than I do, but her work is physical, outdoors. She can’t do it forever. Between the two of us, we barely earn enough for our two kids and the apartment we own.
But I still like writing.
Back when I started this blog, I had the idea that I could earn extra income from writing fiction. But I didn’t go about it in anything resembling the right way. I still don’t really understand how to market myself, how to handle all the non-writing jobs that are essential for a writer. It’s entirely overwhelming and intimidating.
But I still like writing.
I can’t make money from it right now. I understand that, finally. No, even if I do everything properly, I won’t see a penny for a long time. I might win a short story contest, I might get a short story or even a novel published, but the money will be small, a bonus for pursuing a dream at best. A perk added to my day job income.
I’m fighting against my own handling of Inkshares and crowdfunded writing – the evidence of that is still easy to find on this blog. I thought of deleting it all actually, deleting all of my past posts and starting the blog anew. But no, that past happened, it’s still visible, and I will own it as best as I can.
I still like writing. I promised myself I would complete and publish Far Flung, and I will.
Far Flung. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted about it. I have worked on it since the Inkshares crowdfunding attempts. I will finish. I want to try my luck with traditional publishers – I don’t know if the excerpts and information I’ve posted will interfere with my chances, but I need to try. I’ve always been willing to self-publish it; I probably won’t wait too long if I get rejected by some traditional publishers.
I have to do something that is not writing.
I have a number of online courses I bought on sale or received through various promotions. They’re mostly programming – C, Python, Java, and a few other courses. There are a few edX courses too – I’ve just started one now. I’m not sure what my endgame here is. I’m 43 – am I really considering a career change now?
I have to do something, that’s for sure. My wife can’t keep her job forever. Our marriage is not good. Tonight I will go home, and I will do my best to help with cleaning up the house and I will make sure the kids are ready for school tomorrow.
But I will make a mistake somewhere along the way. A very basic mistake, something that would probably not happen if I were better at concentrating and dealing with anxiety. And my wife will yell at me because it’s the nth time I’ve made that exact same mistake. She’ll tell me how the stress of double-checking my work around the house is killing her. She’ll remind me that she works longer hours than I do and has to work every single day because I don’t make enough.
The kids will forget something, or make some small mistake, and she’ll yell at them. I’ll think about how, if I had just done things differently in the past, I could spare them the angry words. I’ll curl up into a ball of sadness and fall asleep way too early. Lather, rinse, repeat. Don’t get me wrong – I know why she yells, I’m not some deadbeat husband who wonders why his wife is always angry. At least I don’t think I am.
And I still like writing.
Somewhere in the changes I must make now, writing will still play a role. It won’t be a career – at least, I don’t see that it can be unless I’m ridiculously lucky. I’ll have to have a different job full time. Right now, today, I still have my current job, and I need it to earn me the time to work on what’s next. Meanwhile, the fictional worlds won’t stop swirling and forming in my head, and I must devote at least an hour or two each day, along with getting more exercise, trying out some online courses, and working with my children.
It’s a hell of a lot to take on. But I don’t see anther way –
Because I still like writing.
I’m already getting notifications on Facebook for my birthday, June 7, even though for many of the IWSG and other readers it’s still Wednesday (and it’s still technically okay to tag this #IWSG on Twitter, right?)
So about my birthday. It could be better, could be a lot worse. I thought I’d have more writing done, and I’ve been “trying to write” a hell of a lot more than actually writing. It’s at the point now where it’s get serious or do something else entirely.
Writing still has an undeniable appeal to me, even through the emotional fatigue I feel now. I’m taking steps to control anxiety and my impulses, and it’s worked – to the point that I don’t feel strongly happy or sad. Based on what I’ve read that’s actually kind of ‘normal’ – depression and anxiety are more likely to take the form of emotional ‘static’ than constant sadness or loneliness.
I’ve had some expensive problems happen lately, too. My car engine needed a costly overhaul, and I had to replace my tires. The family tablet was dropped and has a cracked screen that little fingers shouldn’t touch. We have to figure out something the kids can do this summer without spending too much money.
My writing has taken pen and paper form during these problems. I find myself handwriting more often – it seems to help me work out these issues. It is also very heartening to see the notifications on Facebook. I do appreciate those, and they are making my day much easier.
For #IWSG and others I want to ask:
What do you like to do on your birthday?
What do you write about?
Is it just another day on your latest novel or story, or do you find yourself writing different things or trying different ways of writing?
This week I’d like to share a link from an author I’ve recently been referred to. She publishes in the same genre as I will, and she’s published a number of books that have sold very well. Read how she built up an audience and a following even before she published her first novel:
What’s the secret of your success?
The secret to my success has been multi-factored. First, I’m willing to work harder than most people would. My days are long and I don’t take days off very often. I’m also flexible, realistic, and have developed an (imaginary) exoskeleton – so much better than a thick skin!- against setbacks and naysayers. You can’t succeed in this industry or maintain success if you aren’t relentlessly, doggedly, maniacally persistent.
What’s the single best thing you ever did?
Throughout the two years that it took me to write Fluencey, I was building a Twitter following of wonderful like-minded people that loved my genre as much as I did. It was very time consuming. Every day I followed 100 to 200 people that matched my criteria and unfollowed those that didn’t follow back within 5 days.
I tweeted three or four times a day about relevant topics. In my case, as a sci-fi writer, I tweeted (and still do) about science, space, sci-fi, and SFF fandoms. I engaged (the critical aspect) with those followers throughout each day, every single day and I still do. I built interest and trust. I built relationships! By the time I launched Fluencey, I had 10,000 Twitter friends (now up to 28K) who enjoyed my company. It was natural that they’d be curious about my book. And when I casually tweeted on launch day that I’d written a book and that it was available for sale, 500 people pressed buy. Then there was word of mouth, and Amazon’s visibility algorithms kicked in. It snowballed.
Read more of the interview here, and learn more about Jennifer Wells on her blog!
I think I know what this blog will be now.
It won’t be much of a change, just a different approach. I’m looking at ways now to incorporate the exercise and healthy lifestyle changes I need along with writing. I’ll write about the activities and exercises I do to make sure I can write fiction, and about how writing fiction keeps me going back to that exercise.
I’ll write about how I’m addressing the issues in my last post, and share some of the writing that comes from the process.
I finally feel ready to return to writing. The ideas never stop! I have so many of them, and a terribly slow typing speed along with so many other things demanding my time. But I have to try, and I have to get back out to the writing groups that mean so much to me.
I hope readers will find some value as I talk about how I deal with these problems, and how my physical exercise and weight loss ties in with writing fiction.
Keep writing. I know I will.
I’ve talked a bit recently about how I’m not sure how to use my website now, and where I want to go.
Here’s what I know so far:
- I can’t do reviews or previews too often. Good reviews take time away from writing, and I need to write.
- Far Flung, flawed as it may be, will get finished. I will get it edited and prepared professionally, despite money issues – I’ve seen too many crappy ebooks with garbage covers, and I will not let my story be among them. If I have to get it edited chapter by chapter, so be it.
- Work on Far Flung will be followed immediately by work on its sequel, which I will submit to the Launchpad Competition. If I understand correctly, I get a free submission this year thanks to my placement in the list last year.
- I need therapy and I can’t afford it. Betterhelp.com is an option I’ve tried, and I don’t have money for it now. There’s also 7 cups, which has a premium version I can’t afford, but there seems to be some amount of free help I can get, so I’ll look into that. Face-to-face options near me are very limited, but perhaps 1 or 2 sessions a month will be manageable.
- I need to somehow improve myself despite being completely shut out by my wife. We can’t afford a separation. We can’t afford couples counseling. I can’t see my friends very often. So I’m stuck doing this myself until I make some change that she can recognize.
- I need to write every day, and my online presence will suffer for it. I wish I could do more reviews, guests posts, and other things, but I write too slowly for all that. My fiction takes priority.
I can give some idea of a timeline, though. Far Flung can get to the professional editing stage this year. I think having a draft ready for publication is an attainable goal for the end of this year. Actual publication is more likely to be in 2019.
As for my self-improvement? I’m exercising, and I’ve cut soda out entirely. No weight loss I can report yet. I still have to figure out which therapy is good for me that I can actually afford, but I think it will be focused on general anxiety and various issues with my family.
This blog, when I’m confident I can write for it AND keep up my fiction writing, will look at the ways my therapy for anxiety ties in with writing fiction. Maybe this blog can help other anxious writers. I think mental health issues and being good at writing overlap far more often than any of us like to admit, and it would be worthwhile to explore that correlation.
I hate to disappoint this wonderful following! In 3 days, the campaign will expire and everyone will get a refund. I’m tempted to extend it, but … no, I don’t think it will be a good idea. It was a fun experience, and I may have found an interesting method of gathering support, but there just wasn’t enough positive response. I had a few friends and family members pitch in, but I think neither the idea of the story nor the Inkshares method appealed to them. With the bad relationship with my wife, debt, and anxiety taking over, I simply cannot campaign any longer.
I’m looking into alternatives. I will self-publish Far Flung most likely – I will use this wonderful list of followers and contacts and ask everyone to follow along as I update progress on the fate of Far Flung. My next draft will go to Launch Pad early next year – they might be able to help me find someone interested in publishing. After that, I’ll be looking for ways to get a professional edit done. I’ve no idea how I’ll get the $$$ for that, but … one step at a time, I suppose.
Anyway, my thanks to everyone. You’ll get your refund shortly, though I wish it were a promise of a book instead.
This was an amazing experience, despite this outcome.
Thank you, one and all, for pre-ordering, following, re-tweeting, and otherwise sharing with your contacts. I truly appreciate your efforts!
Thank you, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!