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[process] Obligatory writing and finance post - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2008-02-13 07:57
Subject: [process] Obligatory writing and finance post
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:busy
Music:not much
Tags:personal, process, writing
There's been a lot posting around the intarwebs the last few days about the financial life of the writer, day jobs, and freelancing. [ETA: Plus arcaedia on first book advances.] Career stuff are good.

Reading the posts, I had an interesting insight. I've got it made, right now.

I have commented from time to time that I wish my life were organized such that I could be a full-time fiction writer. That's not happening, and probably never will no matter how well my books sell, barring a profound reform in the way American healthcare delivery is funded. I must have non-qualifying group health insurance.

But after reading comments such as ellameena saying, "I'm always kicking my fiction to the curb in order to get nonfiction work done" I've realized the gift my solid white collar job gives me.

I can write whatever I want, whenever I want. The constraints on my writing are the ones I choose — signing a book contract means accepting a deadline. Even if I were a full-time writer, I wouldn't write that much more than I do now. My time would be spent on marketing, career work, family time and hobbies. These are things I want very badly to do, but they aren't more writing.

But when I do write, I'm not compelled to write anything in particular. I'm not working for the money — my mortgage gets paid otherwise. In fact, I'm not working at all. I'm doing what I want, and doing what I love.

In that sense, the economics of being a writer are irrelevant to me. Sometimes things are ok they way they are.
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coppervale
User: coppervale
Date: 2008-02-13 16:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The one way that it can work (which Neil Gaiman just half-jokingly mentioned yesterday) and the ONLY reason I have health insurance right now, is the WGA health plan. If you can finagle some kind of Hollywood writing gig at a feature level, the insurance comes with it. But you make an awful lot of sense, Jay...
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Jeremy Tolbert
User: the_flea_king
Date: 2008-02-13 16:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My goal is not necessarily to make more time for writing. It's to make better and better use of the time that's already there. But maybe as a fast writer, this is easier for me to say than it is for someone who writes at a slower pace. But I don't think my writing career would be improved if I tried to spend 8 hours a day doing it.
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Jim C. Hines
User: jimhines
Date: 2008-02-13 16:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yup. Much as I love getting paid, I don't want to prioritize based on what pays the best. I want to write what I love and enjoy. If that means I don't make as much money from my writing ... well, right now that's okay, and we're still able to get by.
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Edward Greaves
User: temporus
Date: 2008-02-13 16:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What gets me a touch frustrated is being told by some writers that if I'm not willing to quit my day job, then I'm just not serious enough to make it as a writer. As if there aren't people out there who have a day job either by necessity or choice.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-02-13 16:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Speaking as a professional writer, don't quit your day job. Not unless you can afford to live for years on what you have for non-workplace income and assets.

To me, "being serious" is about arranging my priorities (for me, quitting televisions and gaming), and spending (hours and hours and hours of) time on this. Whether or not you work a day job is a matter of your situation and your preferences, not a mark of seriousness.
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Edward Greaves
User: temporus
Date: 2008-02-13 17:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Leaving aside the fact that I could not at this time live off my writing, nor off my assests, I actually like my day job. I don't love it. But I sure do like it , and the pay, and the bennies, well enough to outweigh most of the day in day out frustrations that come along with any job. Or to put it another way, most days I don't dread going to work.

I find your explanation of getting serious a bit more realistic. Of course that could be due to the fact that I've been winnowing myself off of most of my gaming and TV. It might be easier to accept when I'm all ready heading in that general direction.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-02-13 17:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Remember, everybody's path is different. People who say "you should" are usually projecting their own fears and desires.

The only "you should" I know of is "write more."
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2008-02-14 01:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah.

I find that my work count is actually more productive with a day job. As a teacher, it's pretty easy to measure--what do I do when I'm in school as opposed to what happens in the summer? I didn't even have the excuse of going to summer school last year--and the word count tanked.

Now some would say I was in serious recovery from the intensity of writing several novels during the school year while managing an intense and challenging job. But...all I know is looking at the numbers.

Maybe I can change that this summer. We shall see.

Floop. Brain fried. Too much discussion of cognitive assessments today....
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squirrel_monkey
User: squirrel_monkey
Date: 2008-02-13 20:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That is a very silly thing to say. Some people do like their jobs. Plus, it's a good source of fresh material. Otherwise, we all be writing about writers who return to their childhood small towns.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-02-13 16:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
No one "gets" to be a novelist. They work very hard at it...
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Cat Hellisen
User: cathellisen
Date: 2008-02-13 17:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
THANK YOU!

I'm also at home with the kids and what not, and I have to squeeze in time between home-schooling and housework. I "get" no more time than anyone else with a day job, I make it. 250 words here and there, and that's what adds up.
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blakehutchins
User: blakehutchins
Date: 2008-02-13 17:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have had the luxury of working on writing for the last two years (nearly) without a day job. Working spouse (with insurance) and proceeds from a land sale. But it took awhile to get into the rhythm and get over the PTSD of my previous high-stress job, and I always struggled with the former.

Now I'm about to dive back into working day job stuff (sort of--long story), and I'm more productive on the writing front than I have been in ages. Jay's right on about getting priorities in order. I spent a lot of time chopping wood, doing dishes, and the like. I guess I need the structure of a day job work schedule to achieve proper focus.
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User: ellameena
Date: 2008-02-13 21:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah, my fiction has suffered for my nonfiction work. I love my nonfiction career, so this is not such a horrible fate. I did get this amazing book idea that will merge my fiction and nonfiction careers, much like a literary cold fusion, creating incredible energy (if I can pull it off). I couldn't wait to get started on it. Then I got assigned 13,000 words of highly technical scientific nonfiction to complete in less than a month's time. :-) I'm not giving up, though. The world may have to be patient to see my genius, but see it they will. My genius...let me show you it
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Michelle
User: msagara
Date: 2008-02-14 03:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If I had not had children, I would have worked full-time continuously, while writing; I would be working full-time now.

I like the steady income, the certainty of a stable cash flow. Without this, the stress levels (my own, obviously) go through the roof and it makes concentrating on writing more difficult -- or more desperate -- but at any rate, not entirely easier.


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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-02-14 10:08 (UTC)
Subject: Heath Insurance
Living as I do in the UK, I had never realized what a big deal obtaining Health Insurance was in the US - the way you appear to dislike government plans like our NHS, I assumed you must be able to buy it off the shelf at "reasonable" rates.

Is there no way someone can create a company which you all pay to work for, so that the company can use some of that money to get one of these group insurances - and make a profit out of the rest?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-02-14 13:57 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Heath Insurance
Oh, it's a very big deal. And the very same people who scream and cry about rationed healthcare under "socialized medicine" often struggle the hardest under our very irregular system. It's another facet of that weirdly hypocritical conservative doublethink we have over here — their beliefs tell them national health plans are bad, even though their experiences show them that market-based health plans can be worse. American conservatism is founded on the triumph of opinion over reality.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-02-14 19:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Great advice, Jay. Thanks for your thoughts on it! :*)

~Tyhitia
http://obfuscationofreality.blogspot.com/
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