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2.13.2008

Earning a Living...

John Scalzi wrote a fine piece on financial tips every fledgling writer should be considering as he or she spins reams of glittering prose from their daily trips to the word processor. I think his points are well taken, particularly the specific recommendations (the Roth IRA thing is very important folks, even if you're only funding it for $50.00 dollars a month).

I spent three years as an adjunct instructor of English. There was always bread on the table and we kept the lights on in those lean years but I never knew where my next classes would come from and I spent a lot of time in my car. I was all over the Northern Willamette Valley, teaching in Oregon City, Gresham, Wilsonville and McMinnville. My schedule was erratic but I always had time to pound away at a short story or work on one of the early attempts at a novel that are now relegated to the cold confines of the proverbial locked drawer (sometimes I hear them calling to me; that's when I turn up the volume on Pandora)...

But to be perfectly honest, I made it through those academic proving grounds because Jeanne was busting her butt at the Christie School. She was working ten hours every day with kids that had done things such as, in at least one case, attacked their parents with an axe. This was a secured, locked facility for disturbed teens and Jeanne gave those folks three good years of her life. Like I said, we weren't brunching on the French Riviera come holiday season, but we were very happy and we were positioning ourselves for the future. I drove an old Nissan and she drove an old Toyota. I paid $186.00 a month to BlueCross/BlueShield for health insurance (as a healthy, 25-year-old) because I didn't receive any through the state. Now that the salary is much better and the benefits are good, I look back on those days and wonder how we did it. And it all comes down to the fact that we were supporting each other and hadn't yet started a family.

This all leads me to number three on Scalzi's list. It generated a lot of discussion in the blogging community because some thought he was being too flippant about finding a partner. But I'm here to tell you, folks, that number three absoluteley has a place on that list. Finding a spouse that can help with the finances (and not deplete them) is critical to making a serious go at a writing career.

I read about all the things a writer must have in order to become successful. A writer must have determination, promotional savvy, talent and luck. And I think finding a supportive spouse, one that pulls a check--not one that waves the pom-poms, falls into that nebulous category of luck.

So let me ask you. Who makes it easier for you to write? Do you work at a job that gives you time to pound out prose? Or are you coming home at night, exhausted from the daily battles, and retiring to your walk-in closet to write while the kids are shrieking on the other side of the door?

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