I took a high-level look at my finances yesterday, with a trusted confidante, and it’s quite clear to me that I can’t continue to earn at the level I’m at. Don’t get me wrong – I’m doing extremely well, by the standards of my rural, service-job-working relatives (who don’t need to earn anywhere near what I make to have a decent life). And I’m making more money than I ever thought I would be, when I was younger.
But I’m also making maybe 80% of what I was making, 12 years ago, which is depressing. That’s partly due to changes in the tech field, where the Overlords decided they’d rather higher cheaper, inexperienced offshore labor, and have us train them so they could replace us… as well as the couple of years of intense medical issues in our household that required me to work half-time and also spend a truckload of money covering expenses. That’s not a good combination, in case you were wondering.
And my partner has had some recent setbacks with her own business. It really sucks, how one bad earnings day can sometimes screw everything up. Also, looking at her Social Security statement (she’s considerably older than I), there is no way she can live even remotely near our current standard of living, if she has to rely on Social Security for her income. She’d have a hard time just paying for her medication. She’d have to move in with relatives, because we have no friends who have the kind of money we have. She’d be completely out of luck. And the docs would probably make her go on generics, which have been shown to exacerbate her condition(s). Of course, there’s my Social Security, if anything ever happened to me. I have a good life insurance policy through my work. But still. It would float her for maybe 5 years, max, till it ran out.
When you look closely at our situation, it’s pretty grim.
So, I’ve had to do some serious thinking about our financial situation over the past few days. And to take the pressure off, I’ve been digging out some old writing projects I’ve had going for a number of years. I tend to start projects, then put them aside and forget they even exist. So, it’s been a good refresher, to go back through my files, look on my various hard drive locations, and see — Oh yeah! I remember that! — how much I really have available to work on.
As of last count last night, I have 20 manuscripts in various stages of completion, most of them more than half done. And of that number 5 (a full 25%) have a common theme, which is actually marketable. That’s a pretty big deal, because the vast majority of my 15 (or so – I lose track) published books are either under a pseudonym, or I’ve just put them out there without doing much promotion at all.
Now, here’s the thing with me and marketing and promotion. I understand the need for it. I understand the use. What good is creating something and putting it out there, if you don’t support it by telling the world about it? But I absolutely, positively hate discussing my writing with others. It’s like, I’ve written it down – don’t make me talk about it. It’s something you — like me — need to process by reading. Not talking, for heavensake. The written word “inhabits” a different part of my thought process than spoken words do, so trying to translate them between the two domains is a struggle.
Verbalizing about the written word, for me, totally strips it of its content and its power. I friggin’ hate verbalizing things I’ve written down, because it’s so imprecise, so foggy, so open to interpretation… and I rarely have the sense that what I’m telling someone else is actually getting through. It’s a combination of me not being able to read them, plus the fact that since they’re not inside my head, and they have a completely different thought process than I, they literally cannot ever get 100% what I mean or intend to communicate. That’s depressing.
I also hate listening to writers read their work aloud, because invariably they interpret it differently than I would. I’ve been permanently alienated from my #1 All-Time Favorite Writer, because I made the mistake of listening to her read from one of the works I love, and her interpretation was bombastic, over-the-top, and nothing like the sense and flow that I had created in my own head. What a waste. People who don’t have a strong enough self-perception of writing, who have to have someone read stuff to them… they just exasperate me and seem week and needy.
That’s why I write, after all — to offset the difficulties I have with speaking. And with people who rely on speaking as their primary mode of communications.
However… there is one notable exception to this militant reticence about the many projects I have going — and that’s the five “thematically grouped” works that all fit neatly together as a “package” and actually cross-reference and support each other. On top of it, the subject matter is of keen interest to me, I’ve got decades of experience in it, and it’s something other people actually need.
So, in this case, I actually can talk about it. I’m happy to discuss it with others. I’m more than eager to share my knowledge both in writing and in person — and I could probably put together some pretty awesome presentations for it, as well.
That means I might be able to make some extra money on the side, building up my own business doing this, while continuing with my insurance-providing day job that’s going pretty well, even if I don’t realize it half the time. There’s work I write for myself, to ease the pain of everyday existence in a boring-ass, cynical, hostile world that’s designed and constructed by-for-about people very different from me. And then there’s work I write for the benefit of others.
I’ve got both. And it’s good. And looking at my list of works, I’ve chunked them all into blocks of projects — three at a time. Two “fun” projects to keep me motivated, inspired, interested, and entertained, one “money” project to lay the groundwork for a future that has something to do with me — not everyone except me.
The best thing about this is that I’ll be able to get a LOT of old projects off my plate. They’ve been “gumming up the works” of my thinking, taking way too much time to contemplate and figure out. So, I need to get them out of the way, so I can move on to what’s next — and hopefully better — for me.
And so it goes. Plan in place. Steps identified. Hope obtained.