WORK, MONEY and other things that make no sense…

Most mornings Mike gets up for work, shaves, puts on a suit, a button-up shirt, and a tie. He generally gets to the office about a half-hour early because of our daughter’s school schedule, and maybe stays about a half-hour late (much longer if he’s in trial or gets called out to a crime scene).

So. There’s about one hour a day where he won’t get paid b/c he’s on salary. And there are occasions when he’s on call but doesn’t get any monetary compensation. Still. He’ll get two paychecks a month for the exact same amount. He knows that by leaving for the office every day, he’ll continue to get those two paychecks a month.

This morning I got up for work. I didn’t change out of my pajamas. I know my hair is sticking up everywhere because it feels weird when I move. I don’t want to look because I’d rather not bother fixing it until I’ve finished this blog post. I have NO idea which book I should work on next because I’m the one dictating what I work on. I currently have no deadlines.

I’m terrified I’ll choose the wrong project.

I finished a book with Christa Desir in May of 2012. We got the first half of our advance in either December or January. The book releases in spring of 2016. The chances of me seeing another paycheck for that book after the second part of my advance is about 50/50.

If I finish my Mia Josephs novella this week, I’ll see a little bit of money from that in a couple months. I have no idea how much. I never know. That novella has taken me longer to write than two of my most recent Mia Josephs novels, but I’ll make less, if for no other reason than it’ll be priced for less. There seems to be so little correlation between hours put in, soul put in, and money gotten back out.

One of the hardest things for me is that the work I put into the world is so PERSONAL. There are pieces of me in everything I write, but the rate at which people buy (or don’t buy) my book has NO correlation to how I feel about a given book. NONE.

The logical side of me laughs a little and jokes around that “no one reads that book.” And the other part of me says, “Yeah, becuase it wasn’t good enough,” or “Because you didn’t work hard enough,” or “You should have told those characters’ stories better,” or “Promoted better” or, or, or…

And the truth is that I have very little control over my income. VERY LITTLE. Getting up early and working hard all day guarantees me nothing except that I’ll eventually have another finished book that may or may not sell and a very messy house. There is no certainty.

And while Mike puts SO much effort and energy into the cases he works on, he also knows his paycheck will be the same. He does not, however, get the added benefit of working in fuzzy socks 😉

I have no ideas. There are days when I love every second of what I do. I don’t care about making bajillions of dollars. I’d like to make close to what I would as a teacher so I can justify staying home when I’m about to have two kids in braces, and those same kids have bigger than normal dental and medical bills. I’m far from it this year. I have no idea what next year will bring.

I have no idea if the books I have on submission will sell. I have no idea if my next book will sell. Or the next. Or the next… But tomorrow I’ll get up, I’ll probably change into a daytime version of my pajamas, and I’ll let the characters take over my brain to tell their story.

I’m about to hit publish on this blog post, close my eyes for a few minutes, and pick the project I’d like to start with today. Because uncertainty aside, I can’t imagine not doing what I do.

Thoughts?

~ Jo

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13 thoughts on “WORK, MONEY and other things that make no sense…

  1. Money sucks. I wish I had the answer. It seems no matter what I put into a project I get the same out of it. Where is the magical formula all these bestsellers seem to have?

  2. Wow, I had so many of these same thoughts just today (this week, this month, this year). Not sure what the answer is other than I can’t not write, so I keep writing. My hubby calls it my ‘jobby’ because it doesn’t pay well enough to be a job, but it’s definitely more time-consuming than a hobby. I suppose that works well enough. Good luck with your projects! 🙂

  3. Rilke wrote something very similar in “Letters to a Young Poet” … “There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your while life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.”

  4. Things would be way different if I was depending on my writing to make money. Right now it’s for fun. Luckily.

    I’m gonna have 2 kids in braces too. So I sympathize. The dentist just pre-warned us about the older one. Said if you have dental insurance available, make sure you get on it now (Cause braces are about 18 months off) because most of them have sort of a waiting period. You have to have the insurance for a year before claiming.

    🙂

  5. AMEN IN SPADES, honey! I wrote for more than a decade without earning anything. Well, a few short stories for a couple hundred bucks each – just enough to pay for Writer’s Market and some postage and paper. And the way trad publishing is set up (as you pointed out) it can take years to get your advance (when it’s in 3rds and then the book is delayed). Further royalties often don’t happen either. 🙂

    I got a tweet from a young 22 year old man asking how long it would take to quit his job and be earning enough to live on. “Um, a LOT of books and even then, you probably don’t want to quit your Day Job.” And then he replied that he was already going crazy trying to work full-time and write full-time to get projects completed and subbed. I basically told him, “Crazy is your new Normal.” 🙂

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