Guess what I’m doing today? Taxes, of course. Yes, I should have done them earlier, but it’s been that sort of year.
I ask myself what sort of year I mean by that, and somewhere in my mind I hear these words: this is the year I’m saving my life. I don’t think anyone else can save your life for you. And I don’t mean that in the physical sense, of course. I’m in no danger of drowning, of going over a cliff in a car. I’m saving my life in the sense that I know there’s a life I’m meant to live, and I’m not living it yet, but I’m getting there, and going to get there. That’s the life I’m saving.
But I didn’t actually mean to write about that. What I meant to write about was that last year, I spent about $2000 on business expenses, mostly traveling to conventions. And I made considerably less than that from writing, only about $500. So was all that travel justified?
I had spent the previous couple of years not traveling very much, barely going anywhere. I didn’t have the money. Kendrick was finishing his PhD, and I was both teaching and taking care of Ophelia. And taking on any other work I could. I put my life, the life I’m in the process of saving, on hold. During that time, I did not write very much. Writing is an uncertain business, and if you want to make money, it’s easier to teach extra classes, grade writing assessments, take on the sort of work there always is around a university. I wrote only when I was asked to, when I knew I could make a sale.
Last year, I thought, this is it. Kendrick is finished with his PhD, Ophelia is in school. It’s saving my life time.
So I made a plan, although not a very elaborate one. I just knew that I needed to begin. I thought about where I should go, which conventions I always enjoyed. Where people were interested in my writing. I chose Wiscon, Readercon, World Fantasy, Boskone, ICFA. Readercon and Boskone were easy, because they were so close. No traveling or staying in a hotel required. I was also invited to the Sycamore Hill writing workshop, which I didn’t want to miss. So those were the places I went.
I also did several other things. Most importantly, I redesigned my website – instead of my old, out-of-date one, I created this site and started blogging every day. I was already on Facebook, but I also joined Twitter, although honestly, sometimes I’m still not sure what to tweet. But it’s a wonderful source of information and links. Through Facebook and Twitter, and through reading individual blogs, I feel as though I know what’s going on with the people who live in my world, which is the writing world. They are all people I care about very much, people I want to hear about. They’re doing such fascinating things!
So I spent both time and money.
And what was the result? Well, on the most practical level, this year I’ve already earned about as much from writing as I spent last year going to conventions. And I’m going to earn significantly more over the course of the year. So it’s already been a good financial investment. What it did was let people know that I was available again, that I was ready to work. And they sent me work.
I think the universe functions like that. If you do good work, and you let people know that you’re available to do it, they will sent it your way. And if you’re out there, talking to people at conventions, you will start to do what I’m starting to do now – think up projects of your own. Oh, I don’t have time to start them now. But I will this summer, and once my dissertation is finished, well – watch me! You have no idea what wonderful things I’m going to create.
I guess what I’m saying, ultimately, is that you have to invest in yourself. You have to do it wisely, of course. You have to make the investment pay. But really, what else are you going to invest in? The stock market? Better spend that money creating opportunities for yourself, so you can do the work you want and were meant to do. Saving your life, one convention, one blog post, one story at a time.