Doing Taxes

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 Most importantly, I redesigned my website – instead of my old, out-of-date one, I created this site and started blogging every day.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.

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4 Responses to Doing Taxes

  1. Hecate says:

    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.

    I’m sure that you know this poem by Mary Oliver. Congratulations on a wonderful year!

    The Journey

    One day you finally knew
    what you had to do, and began,
    though the voices around you
    kept shouting
    their bad advice–
    though the whole house
    began to tremble
    and you felt the old tug
    at your ankles.
    “Mend my life!”
    each voice cried.
    But you didn’t stop.
    You knew what you had to do,
    though the wind pried
    with its stiff fingers
    at the very foundations,
    though their melancholy
    was terrible.
    It was already late
    enough, and a wild night,
    and the road full of fallen
    branches and stones.
    But little by little,
    as you left their voices behind,
    the stars began to burn
    through the sheets of clouds,
    and there was a new voice
    which you slowly
    recognized as your own,
    that kept you company
    as you strode deeper and deeper
    into the world,
    determined to do
    the only thing you could do–
    determined to save
    the only life you could save.

  2. Grey Walker says:

    Saving your life is worth all the money there is.

    And I did my taxes yesterday, so you can see it was that sort of year for me, too.

  3. Cymru says:

    Theodora, I know exactly how you feel. For a long time, for various reasons, I have put my real life on hold, the life I’ve always wanted, the life that was just sitting in the corner watching me with wistful eyes and waiting patiently for me to notice her. This year has been a strange one so far for me, wonderfully strange, and I find that I am beginning to save my life. I have finally started the book that I’ve been musing about for longer than I should have, and I’m working on a new project that’s both exciting and terrifying for me, but it’s a project that’s pushing me to go in directions I’ve never taken before. A brave new world, so to speak.

    I can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up in the upcoming months. I’ve only recently discovered your blog, which is enchanting, so I know I can anticipate wonderful things.

    Hecate, thank you for sharing that poem. You and Theodora have quite inspired me today!

  4. Keith Glaeske says:

    Yes, Hecate, thanks for sharing! I posted part of it as my Facebook status today.

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