I just got through my taxes; yes, I’m late, but now they’re done. The roses smell the sweeter for not having that hanging over my head.
When I mentioned my gross income to my sister, her response was “That’s not a lot to live on.” But when I mentioned it to my friend Angie, who is also a writer, she said, “You’re doing really well. That’s a good income for your first year of freelancing.” I guess both of them are right. What I made was not a lot to live on, and it’s been tight. On the other hand – and largely due to the Works in Progress grant in October – it’s more than I originally projected I’d earn.
What I’ve learned is, once again, how little I can live on. I’ve learned that even when I’m so scared about the future that I think my hair must be standing out in all directions, I can still write. I may have to cry first, but then I’ll write. I’ve learned the value of persistence, sending pieces out again and again, sending pitches into the black hole of “we’ll contact you only if we’re interested”.
I’ve been working more on non-fiction this year than on fiction, and my non-fiction efforts have got results. I’m beginning to see how I might be able to scrape by on writing non-fiction. Other writers caution me not to fall into that hole of writing for money and neglecting my “real work”, which is fiction, but other writers aren’t paying my bills. Besides, if I’m fretting about the bills, I can’t write good fiction. If I’m calm about the Hydro and phone, even if I have less time to write fiction, what I write is better. Like most things in life, it’s a balancing act.
I’ve also learned that I like writing non-fiction, and that I have two qualities which most editors love.
1) I deliver clean copy which needs a minimum of editing.
2) I deliver it on deadline.
If you have these, then excellent writing is, I’m told, a bonus.
This year I’m ploughing along, doing what I can to build my profile and keep the home fires burning. I’ve taken up pottery again, after having laid it aside for several years, because there’s still a bit of a market for my work, and having a different art to turn to helps my creative process.
I still hope that this may be the year I sell a book. 2011 is only half over, after all.
I’m still here. Apparently, I’m doing well. It’s comforting to know.