Writing and Money

SF author John Scalzi has posted a nifty blog entry on financial advice for writers.

“The full-time writing life isn’t about writing full-time; it’s about a full-time quest to get paid for your writing, both in selling the work, and then (alas) in collecting what you are owed. It’s not romantic; it’s a pain in the ass.”

Well worth a read. Check it out. I’ve already been living by several of those tenets, notably #6: “Don’t have the cash for it? You can’t have it.”

I will, however, take exception to #8: “Unless you have a truly compelling reason to be there, get the hell out of New York/LA/San Francisco.” Yeah, the financial reasons make sense, housing-wise….but he fails to take into account a couple of things: one, the sheer number of really interesting cultural things that you can do for free in those cities, which does cut down on your expenses. Two, you don’t need a car (at least in NYC), which we all know is a major cash-sink…..and three, the fact that I’m pretty sure that I’ll go fucking apeshit if I have to stay in the Midwest. (Well, OK — I couldn’t expect him to know that. But still!)

13 Replies to “Writing and Money”

  1. That is indeed a good entry, and I agree with all of his points. Every single one of them. Including #8. Many has been the time that I have turned to jendaby and said something along the lines of “You know, we could move back to Lawrence, get a bigger house, pay off all of our debts, and live entirely on my writing.” What has prevented us, every time, is your third point–that despite still having many friends there, we worry that we’d go insane moving back. It’s always a strong temptation, though.

    And I don’t consider your No. 2 to be an issue, btw. I bought my last car in Kansas for $250 and drove it for five years, probably putting another thousand into it total over that time. Insurance was ridiculously low. Gas is expensive, yes, but a MetroCard is $74 a month or something like that. Plus money for cabs, trains, and busses when you’re trying to get anyplace off the beaten track or severely after hours or out of the city. I’d so those balance out close enough to be a nonfactor.

  2. True enough on the cost of travel — which is only rising. (Currently, we’re looking at something like 80/month just in gas, and we don’t really travel outside of Lawrence much)

    The insanity is a factor. At this point, I’m more than ready to move back. I’ve even started looking for freelance contractor gigs via craigslist (writing/editing and graphic design), to prepare.

  3. Mostly common sense. Some of it only applies to the lucky, though – i.e. spouse with the better job.

    Amazing how many non-creative types need to follow this advice tho.

  4. Actually, most big cities have a car share program or two set up (like Zip Car), which kills the need to rely on public transportation (incl. cabs) for anything off the beaten path. And its about the same price for renting a car (if you got the insurance policy) except with more locations and gas is included (no matter how far you drive). So you can save tons by not getting a car if your in a place that’s civilized enough that public transportation can be used reliably to commute (which for most of the west except SF, it can’t).

    Still, food and stuff tends to be more expensive in the big cities, too. But I can’t argue with the cultural perks. I can’t imagine giving those up anytime soon. Luckily it’s moot since my “real job” pretty much requires me to be in a major population center.

  5. Also, though he mentioned kids, he didn’t really dwell on that factor. Case in point: jendaby had a better job than I did when we got married. But since I can’t exactly birth the kids, she was the one who would have needed to give up her job once she hit that stage of her pregnancy. Moot point for us, since her *sshole boss fired her once she got pregnant, but still. Having an SO with a good job is great but may get screwed up once kids come into the picture.

  6. Sadly, no–below a certain size companies can get away with all kinds of crap. She was having pregnancy-related health issues, and they said they needed someone who they could count on to be there every day, so they fired her. We checked with a lawyer and were told there wasn’t a damn thing we could do about it.

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