Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘money’

100K By September 1st!

We’re well into summer and half the year is almost gone. I’ve been so unproductive this year that I’m a bit frustrated with myself. But I keep telling myself that what gets done gets done. I just wish I could get more done.

Don’t we all wish that?

My home search is on hold right now. Here in the DC area, home prices are so competitive that it is really hard to get a place. Plus I still have some debt from JHU. So my plan is to pay off the debt, then look into buying something. In this market, every thousand dollars makes a difference. On one hand I’m sad I won’t be able to own something now.

But I also started thinking about other expenses coming in the near future. The last thing I want is to have a mortgage, school debt, and other stuff like a car, etc. No thank you. I’d rather pay off the school debt, save for the house, and then save for the car. No more debt.

Seven years ago, I was debt free as I paid off the last of my undergrad loan. That was such a freeing moment and I want to have that feeling again. It’s addictive to have no obligation to anyone.

When I was 16, I took the “Strong Interest” test in high school. Number one career recommendation? Author. Annual salary? $16K.

Yep. I knew I was in a low paying career from the beginning.

But when you don’t have debt, a small salary will allow you to be very comfortable. I just slipped up and made some no so great decisions. Still, I got an MA out of it and over all I still think it was a good decision.

So, yes, my financial life takes up all my thoughts. Writing has fallen by the way side. It’s a three day weekend here in the US. I hope to get something done. I am still submitting. A story I submitted a year ago finally came back rejected and a few others are still in the que.

Can’t say I’m not persistent or patient.

I need to attack my writing goals like I attack my debt. So I’m making a goal right now that I will write 100K in the next two months. That is my writing goal. It’s a big one, but hey, aim high right?

I think I can do it.

Grown-Up Decision for 2016

At my last writing, I bemoaned my slow writing pace and that hasn’t changed much. I’m still squeezing it in when I can, trying to write every day. But other life things have sometimes pushed it to the back. Some I will discuss here. So if you just want to read about writing stuff, I’ll write about that first. And then get into the other pressing life stuff.

On the plus side, I have gotten some writing in and managed to submit a few more stories out into the world. On May 1st, I got my #50 rejection. Not bad. Not bad. I still wish I had more submitted, but I’m still trying.

I also finished a few books, so I’m reading too. I never understand why some writers aren’t reading books. It sounds crazy, like a musician that doesn’t listen to music, or  an actor that doesn’t watch TV, film, or plays.

Make time to read. Make time to write.

But sometimes life just has a way of wiping out those goals.

For me, it started last winter. I focused on writing, submitting, and getting my chapbook together. I renewed my lease on my apartment and didn’t think too much about it. After all, my rent only went up sixteen dollars. Not much. Not enough to worry about.

And then all of my other bills started to got up. Not huge amounts, but enough that I felt the squeeze. Twenty dollars here. Ten dollars there. I’ve always been a very careful, budget conscious person. Working in publishing will never net me riches, but I always did the best I could. I worked through grad school and did my best to be frugal.

But when I sat down and did the math, I was shocked. My rent and utilities were sixty-percent of my take home pay! No wonder I was feeling the squeeze.

I’m just one of the many people who are stuck in this economy. My salary has flat-lined, but my expenses keep going up and up. I decided that if I was paying this much in rent, I damn well better own something. I want to buy a house.

And the thought of owning a home scares me. It’s a big, grown-up, adult decision that I have managed to avoid. Renting allowed me to cut and run, if things got hard. Don’t like the neighbors? Move! Sick of the area? Move! Not so easy when you own the home. No leaving when things get hard. You have to stay and fix the problem (or I guess you could abandon the home, but that never ends well).

But I am also excited by this decision. For the first time, I will be in control of my living situation. All the decisions will be my own. I don’t have a husband, or family help (in terms of money) to make this purchase. I will be doing this all on my own. Already, I have met with a realtor and mortgage broker, seen my finances laid bare, and taken the plunge to -GASP- go to open houses.

(Side note: I find open houses weird. Some people I know love them, but I guess I’m not that curious about how others live. )

You know what? Buying a house is exhausting! I understand now why people say, “It took me a year to find a house.” or “I looked at a hundred houses.” You really do have to look at a HUGE amount of homes. For like months and months. I’ve only been doing this a month and already my weekends are booked up and I find myself watching Youtube videos entitled “House Hunting tips” and “5 Mistakes home buyers are making.” Are we in a housing bubble now? Should I buy in an established area, or up and coming? Condo or single family? Wishlist? Dealbreakers?

So yeah, I’m tired. I still have a day job to do, regular errands to finish, and find time to write, read, and look for a new home. That’s all. Simple, but never easy.

I hope I hit this 500K goal of writing for the year, but I can already tell that I’ll be lucky if I hit 100K. Not matter, what gets done, gets done. I’d take a baby step forward rather than stand in place. 2016 is going to have some major shifts for me, more than I thought.
Now excuse me while I search for some more videos on finding a dream home on a writer’s budget.

Mid-November Update 2015

The latest numbers:

Submissions: 7
Acceptances: 1
Rejections: 34

Two more rejections came back, but they were mailed right back out. A couple of stories, I have held off of sending out, because they are off beat. They’re not quite fantasy, but they’re not realistic either. As I stated before, I like to be selective where I send my stuff. Not because I think I’m so grand a writer, but because I want to try and find the best fit for my story. Why should I send a story that is totally wrong to a journal, just because they are open?

That always bothers me when I read editors say that. I think, Why would anyone send their horror story to a romance editor, or vice versa? But apparently, it does happen.

I also realize I like money. If you love the journal and it is on a shoe-string budget (and can’t pay), then you have to decide for yourself whether it is worth it or not. I’ve seen a couple of great places that don’t pay, but have good reputations. Then there are some that are clearly scams and I steer clear of them. All in all, I am more inclined to submit to place that pay something. Even if they only offer ten bucks.

But a lot of factors go into my submission process besides money. Who they have published before, the style of those stories, have I tried before and what kind of response did I get? There was an interesting on-line magazine that was paying (token, not pro-rates), but when I read three of the stories they published, I had to scratch them off my list. I hated every story. Our styles were different and I knew it would be a bad fit.

I’ll probably do a full recap at the end of the year about what I learned during this year long challenge. This year has been so eventful, I need to reflect. Hey that is what this blog is for. Hard to believe, but I graduated only six months ago. Plus, I have to start thinking about new goals for 2016.

Novella is slow going. I’m glad I didn’t do NaNoMo. I would be losing so badly right now. But finishing by Christmas? That is possible. Plenty of time.

Doing What You Love

A few weeks ago, classical musician Joshua Bell played at a Metro station in DC. Years ago, he played anonymously and the Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten wrote an essay on the experience. A few days ago, singer Erica Badu sang in Times Square. She made $3.60. Both of these experiences got me thinking about doing what you love.

In 1993, I was 16 and took the Strong Interest Test in high school. The result? The first career that popped up for me was Author. Scanning down the paper, I read that my salary would be $16,000. I had no idea what that would be in real world money, but I did know that was low. My classmates had careers like lawyer, or accountant. Their salaries started at $50K. Still, I stared at the paper and thought, Well it’s a start.

Since that moment, I view, any salary I get that is over $16K is a win. I don’t earn any money from my writing and don’t expect to ever get rich. (Unless I get very lucky.) Money will come in time. For now, I’m more focused on building a body of work and getting better at my craft. I’m working anonymously (without the famous reveal of course).

Just out on the corner of the internet, doing my thing.

When you do what you love, there is still hard work. You work and give so much of your time, attention and yes, sanity. Some will think you are crazy, standing out on the corner singing for three bucks. While Erica did this as a stunt, there are plenty of us who are doing for real.

Sing on I say. Not because you want the money, or the attention. You simply want to do this. Everything else is a win.

Quick Update – End of Summer 2014

It’s been a long, but productive, summer. Class #7 is in the bag, and I just have two short weeks in between semesters. Even though I am on break, it feels like I have more work than ever.  A week ago I said to my mom (who got her master’s in 1991 when I was 14), “I don’t know how you did it with two kids, a husband, and a job.”  She just looked at me and said, “Well, when you’re motivated the stuff gets done… and I learned to deal with a messy house.”  Wise words. I am both excited and terrified that I only have one more semester until Thesis.

But I have done a few things to prepare. I gathered together the stories that will make up my thesis. Two of them I have revised in the past 6 months. The third, I am working on now; and the fourth is next.  I think they are the strongest stories, so I will pour most of my energy into working on them. I need to have between 40-60 pages. Right now the total stands at 43, so I will meet the goal.  Hopefully, after I revise the last two stories, I will have closer to 50. First draft is due the first day of class. The last thing I want to do is fall behind on this. Thank the heavens my final class is an elective and not a workshop. It is not less work, but it is less writing. I don’t have to focus on reading and critiquing other people’s work right before thesis. Instead, I can solely work on my own fiction and complete this reading elective. I won’t get burnt out.

As for other goals for 2014, I’m not doing too badly. After a slow winter and early spring, I started firing on all cylinders. I wroter 3 new stories and kept working on my longer story (a novella I think). I also have 6, yes 6!!, stories out for consideration. I revised and e-mail the stories, and if one came back rejected, I just sent it right back out again. I told myself I wouldn’t allow longer than 24 hours between rejection and submission. I think this keeps me from being discouraged and makes me feel like I am doing something. I have plans to write or finish up at least 4 more stores, so I may not hit the goal of 12 original stories this year, but I will damn sure get close. The year is not over yet, and I’m still getting the work out.

Up to 12 books to read for the year.  My goal was 25, so not too bad. It helps when you have a reading class.

As for not buying anymore books… yeah, that goal is history. I was sunk the moment I had to buy books for class and then tossed in a couple more, because I wanted them too. Don’t know why I even bothered with that one.

Still haven’t sold anything, but having 6 stories out makes me feel better about achieving that goal. I can’t get published, if I don’t get the stuff out there into the world.

The last goal about paying down my credit card has been hard. My tutition has been raised again, and it is hard to keep up. I saved for a year before I started this program, plus I still work full time, and it hasn’t been enough. Still I avoided student loans and I faithly keep my other expenses down, so I take comfort that I only have one more semester to pay for (I already paid for this fall). I’m not happy about the debt, but it is the only debt I have, so I swallow my anxiety and tell myself that it will be paid off in the next year or two, and that I can’t back out now. No sense in quitting when the goal is in view.

So that is where I’m at. I’ll try to post more during break, but no promises. Writing fiction has to come first, but still I hate neglecting this blog.  Sometimes, I think I should focus on my non-fiction just as much as my fiction.

New Goals for 2014

It’s the 15th of January, so technically it is still around the beginning of the year.  I wanted to write some of my goals for 2014 down.  I think that putting them out here publicly will be a good way to hold myself accountable.  Some of these will be easy, but others will take a lot of discipline.

Goal #1 — Finish 12 short stories a year and 1 longer piece.

This should translate into one short story a month.  In a year, I will be starting my thesis class.  I want a nice body of work ready to go before I set foot in the classroom.  Starting a year early should put me in a nice position for 2015.  By “longer piece” I mean something 10k words or more.

Goal #2 — Sell one short story.

This was my main goal for 2013.  I submitted a lot of work, but got a lot of rejections.  I’ve been trying off and on since 2004 to get published, but I stopped once I started grad school.  Last year I decided to resume my publishing quest.  Some rejections were very kind.  Some sucked.  I realize I just have to keep moving forward.  I’m never going to get published if I don’t keep writing and mailing my work out.

Goal #3 — Read at least 25 books this year.

This may seem like a small goal, but this past year I barely read 20 books.  Some books I started and just couldn’t finish.  Plus I tend to read a lot of short fiction on line.  Still, I need to read more.  So far this year I am off to a good start.  I just finished Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn and am now reading Warbreaker.  Next up will be The Well of Ascension.

Goal #4 — Buy no new books, unless I get some gift cards.

During the holiday, I realized I had an insane amount of books waiting in my “to be read” pile.  I’m going on a year long hiatus of book buying to trim down the pile.  The only way I’m getting any more books is if someone gives me a gift card that I can’t spend anywhere else.

Goal #5 — Get my credit card bill down.

Grad school is expensive.  Root canals are expensive.  For the first time in two years I got a modest raise at my day job.  I need to start making a dent in my debt.

Those are the big ones.  There a few small ones like hang some pictures, exercise more, etc.  Honestly, I’m not too worried about those.  I’m in a regular routine for exercising and others are just chores I need to take care of.  These main goals are the big ones.  These are the ones I need to focus on.  I’ll return to these goals periodically over the year to record my progress.  For now, it feels good to have them out here in cyber space.  This gives me a real solid ideas to strive for.  Let’s see how 2014 goes.