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Posts from the ‘WRITING: LIFE’ Category

Listening So Hard That It Hurts

When I was very young, and was first introduced to science fiction, I read a lot of things that objectively (and metaphorically) hurt my feelings and outraged my received opinions.

… Most things I read, actually.  It’s part of what attracted me to science fiction, the ability to put myself in another situation where the givens I had in my world weren’t the same, and therefore I could sometimes see the logic of the other side.  And sometimes I could see why the other side wasn’t being logical, which is just as valuable. Read more

Successful Author

What is your personal benchmark for success? How do you define it?

Larry Correia gave us his alphabetical list of author success (which is just about as off the wall, NSFW, and funny as you’d expect from the guy who came up with the Internet Arguing Checklist.)

Dean Wesley Smith, who’s been in this business for a few decades, has said that he knew a crusty old bookstore owner who figured you weren’t a “pro” until you had ten books out, as he’d seen far too many writers quit before they got that far. So the day Dean slapped that tenth published book on the table, the old gent acknowledged that he was “no longer a neo-pro.” Read more

Why work?

Before you quit your job and just write, let’s look at what work actually does for people besides the money.

Because everyone thinks about the money, but when you look at why retired people decide to go back to work, it’s not usually about the money. What else do you get out of a job?

1. Meaning/Sense of Purpose
2. Identity
3. Status / Prestige
4. Sense of Belonging / Camaraderie / Common Purpose
5. Structure (time)
6. Social Connections / Social Capital

1-2. Now, some of these you can fill with becoming a full-time writer easily. “I’m a writer” can become your new identity, to replace “I’m a sales clerk at XYZ Corp.” And your sense of purpose goes from “I’m an accountant. I make the world make sense and run smoothly.” to “I’m a writer. I entertain people.”

3. Prestige… prestige is harder. This helps explain why so many writers in the trad model are stuck on winning awards, even if it meant logrolling and thereby turning the award from a marker of awesome stories into “stories to avoid.” They’re chasing prestige from their jobs, and unlike working in many businesses, there’s no way to get promoted up the chain unless your book goes viral or your publishers really love you.

As an indie, you’re going to have to find satisfaction in being the head of your publishing house, and possibly in hobbies, volunteer missions, or outside activities, because writing is not a high-prestige job. (Even if we’d love the world to think it’s all black turtlenecks, cafes, and hip coolness. The world really isn’t fooled.)

4. Sense of belonging, camaraderie, and common purpose. This is something everyone who spends a large amount of time alone has to struggle with – and it turns out, slowing down is not what kills retirees, it’s social isolation. The critical difference is whether or not you actually get to spend time in the company of other people – even if it’s just sitting in the café typing away and occasionally ordering another coffee. Introverts, it turns out, still tend to need about 5 hours a day of interaction with people, and extroverts need about 6.

And, it turns out, online interaction doesn’t replace this on a one-to-one basis. Spending 5 hours on facebook is not a replacement for spending 5 hours in the company of people. (This is true across all social media, though I have to wonder if it would hold true if they could control for for chatting, skyping, email, and actual conversation vs. tweet-level philosophy and snippiness, memes, “likes”, and flamewars.)

When Peter and I were looking at places to live, our criteria included favourable regulatory structure, low taxes, and the company of friends. We now live in a tiny town in Texas, where three times a week we have a dinner night that rotates between houses – I cook on Tuesdays. And sometimes the company of friends does, indeed, involve LawDog ignoring all of us and typing with furious purpose on a tablet because the muse struck again…

It doesn’t have to be just friends, though: you can get social interaction while also doing research. Take a glassblowing class, participate in meetup hikes or art gallery walks, join a reenactment group, learn to kayak, volunteer to help build a habitat for humanity house… anything where you’re interacting with other people in the flesh will help. And, you can turn a lot of that into fodder for a novel!

5. Structure. When I am between jobs, this is the one I struggle with the most. It’s a little easier down here in the lower 48 than Alaska, because the whole “it gets dark in summer” thing keeps me from starting on a roadtrip at 11pm at night, or sandblasting aircraft parts at 4am. (And the fact that the sun still rises in the winter makes it easier for me to get up, too.) But honestly, I like having a job that gets me out of the house on a predictable schedule, and forces me to fit everything else around it. It regularizes my life, and creates a predictable weekly cycle.

Peter has found that me having a structure also helps him have a structure – because if I’m home all the time, I’m bouncing off the walls and we’re in each other’s hair. When I’m gone for a shift, he can nap without being woken by me moving around, and then get up and write without any interruptions. (Wifely interruptions. The felines are another story, as they always are.) He can also plan around our gym schedule, and shunt major things we’ll do together to my weekend.

6. Social connections / Social capital. When your social life is built around work, then your connections and the social capital is built around it, and losing your job can be extremely isolating. Unlike social isolation, social media can really help with this. Finding and interacting with other writers, cover designers, artists, scientists, horse trainers, or whatever your common ground may be, will help build connections and friendships. Make sure you have a support network before you lose your last one!

On one level, social connections, this is what MGC is: a group blog to pass on what we know, help each other and help our readers. It’s a place where people learn how to publish indie, how to write, and start meeting and talking with other writers. Connections have been made, hookups between writers and beta readers, writers and cover designers, readers and new writers, and so on – usually down in our active comments. (Thanks for being part of the community, commenters!)

On the tiny town level, if we’re gone to a convention, friends will shamelessly spoil the cats while we’re gone, and the tiny town cops will do a close patrol on the house. When I sprained my shoulder, friends made sure I had food, and came over to help lift and move things. Heck, JL Curtis and LawDog just helped move my new computer desk home. (Yay for them!) And Jim knows he can cat-herd me into writing a blurb for him any time he needs one.

And social capital? Friends pull together – right now, the gunblogger community is holding a gun raffle for one of their own. Andi isn’t a gunblogger herself (she’s a metal artist), but her parents & sis-in-law are, and after she had a stroke they put up a gofundme because she makes too much to qualify for Obamacare assistance and too little for her family to afford health insurance. And then there was plotting. And then there was the announcement by JL Curtis that we’re holding a gun raffle, and a bunch of the guys, including Peter, were offering up their guns as the prizes, all of us authors offering signed copies of their books, and Alma Boykin even helped with a ladies’ package of jewelry. It’s snowballed as more and more people started offering a gun they could spare, gunsmiths started to offer trigger jobs or chrome plating, and so on…

And Andi has gone from staring down medical bills, and trying to work out how she can afford the therapist to over $10K donated. (Even after the IRS takes their cut, because it’s taxed as income, that’s still going to really, really help!) Best of all, she’s now gotten enough therapy that she can get back in the shop – not up to full speed and fine motor control work yet, but with help, completing artwork she has commissions for and making new pieces to keep her business above water and family fed.

…on returning/continuing to work, and unexpected attitudes…

If, as a writer, you find that you can support yourself by writing, but you like the structure, the sense of having a common purpose with a group, and the lack of isolation/camaraderie of work – then congratulations, you’re just like many retirees that picked up a job “to get out of the house.” (Even if you didn’t retire or quit first!)

Be aware that the optional nature of this job means you’re going to be much less likely to suffer fools gladly – where your coworkers are likely to bow their shoulders and not make waves because they really need the job, you’re more likely to call out the boss when he does something unwise (I recommend doing so in private), or remonstrate a coworker or customer. This is a double-edged sword, and it can be a strength just as much as a weakness, as long as you’re aware of it and use it well.

On the other hand, you’re more likely to really enjoy the job, too!

And for something really nifty, Margaret Ball’s third Harmony book, Survivors, is now live! You don’t have to read the other two to enjoy this one, either!

To NaNo or Not to NaNo

November is almost half over and all across the internet you will find writers and wannabe writers talking about NaNoWriMo. Some are gleefully extolling on and on and on about how they have been meeting their daily word counts and will make their 50k word goal for the month. Others lament about how they haven’t been able to keep up with their goal, but they are continuing to try. Some will tell you about the book they started in last year’s NaNo or the year before or the year before, etc. Then there are those who will boldly tell you that you’re a fool for taking part.

Each year, I see someone — usually several someones — condemning anyone who takes part in NaNoWriMo. These oh-so-superior authors are convinced that nothing good can come out of NaNo. They cling to the belief that no one can write 50k words of publishable material in a mere 30 days. To them, NaNo is a gimmick that does nothing more than make fun of their craft. And, yes, I have a mental image of these authors sipping tea, pinky fingers lifted, as they look down their noses at the peons laboring away in the writing trenches.

If you haven’t already figured it out, this attitude more than bugs me. It tics me off. First, it completely misses the point of NaNo (and full disclosure here. I’m not a big fan of NaNo for reasons I’ll go into later). Second, it assumes that every writer works at the same pace as these so-called authors and who are they to tell any of us what pace we should set when we are writing?

So, what is the purpose behind NaNo? That’s simple. Some years ago, a couple of friends got together. During the course of their conversation, someone said no one could write a 50k word novel in a month. These guys took up the challenge and NaNo was born. If you take part and if you follow the original concept of the challenge, you start a new novel on November 1st and work through the month with the goal of writing at least 50k words.

The goal isn’t to have 50k words of publishable content. It is to set a goal and meet it. To simply sit the butt down in the chair and write. Editing comes after that. This is what makes NaNo an effective tool for a number of writers. It is committing to a goal and working to reach that goal. It has been the impetus a number of writers have needed to move past writer’s block or the various distractions that all too often take us away from our writing.

There is another benefit to NaNo, at least for some writers. There is a huge NaNo community. During November, there are meetings you can go to, even write-ins. For a number of writers, especially beginning writers, this means getting to know in meat space others like yourself. That’s important because writing is a solitary profession and all too often our families don’t understand the demands of the career.

My issue with NaNo is that 50k word goal. There are a number of writers who are terrified of that number. They won’t sign up because they know they won’t be able to meet the goal. In other words, they aren’t going to give themselves the chance to “fail”. When asked about it by other writers, I tell them they don’t have to take part in the “official” NaNo. They can simply set their own goal for the month and then do their best to keep to it. One way of doing it is announcing the goal on social media, on their blogs, etc., and then doing daily or weekly upstages. That will keep them honest.

I hear some of you out there asking if I do NaNo. I don’t. I have in the past and, in most instances, I met the goal. However, with my writing schedule, I am rarely in the position any longer of starting something new at the right time for the challenge. That doesn’t mean I ignore the spirit of NaNo. I have weekly and monthly writing goals. Sometimes I meet them and sometimes I don’t. In November, I do my best to hit at least 50k words. It might be on a single project or on several different projects, depending on when I end one and start another. Sometimes, it might be an editing goal. There are times when it is both.

You might be asking about my goals for the month and how have I done so far? My goal wasn’t so much a word count goal as a project goal. I wanted to have the final version of Light Magic finished and ready to publish by the end of the month. I also wanted to have the final version of an untitled holiday short story/novella in the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe ready as well. Working drafts of both have been finished. I have also done some work on the expanded edition of Duty from Ashes. But, thanks to a knee injury, I am behind on my goal. Since the short story/novella and Light Magic are time sensitive, they are getting the bulk of my attention right now.

Here’s the thing. No one has to like NaNo. It isn’t for every writer out there. But just because it isn’t right for you doesn’t give you the right to decry it where every other writer is concerned. For those of you who haven’t tried it, or who have tried it and not met your goal, don’t discount doing it again. Remember, there is nothing stopping you from doing your own form of NaNo. If the 50k word goal terrifies you to the point you feel you will self-sabatouge and not meet the goal, set a lower goal. But give yourself incentives to not only meet but exceed that new goal. You might be surprised by how much writing you can get done.

The key isn’t whether you write 200 words or 50k words. The key is that you write. You don’t have to write every day, but you have to write. So many of writers stop writing, not because they have run out of ideas but because they fall out of the habit of writing. Yes, real life gets in the way. The challenges of work, family, school, etc., all have to be dealt with before we can sit down and put ideas to paper. Once we get out of that habit, it is often almost impossible to get back into it.

So, here’s my challenge to each of you. Set a goal for the rest of the month. It can be anything you want. But set the goal. Then set secondary goals. Goals that, if you reach them, you treat yourself to something special. Before you start telling me you don’t have time, give your daily schedule a hard look. Is there some way you can change your schedule or crave out an additional five or ten minutes a day or an hour over the weekend? If you ride the train or bus to work, can you grab your tablet and stylus and make notes (or even just an old-fashioned steno book and pen)? How about giving up five minutes of gaming at night or getting up five minutes early?

You’ll note, I didn’t say you have to write a story. In fact, if you have been having problems focusing on a plot, don’t force it. Do free-writing. When you get up (or before you go to bed), grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and just write. Write down whatever comes to mind. It can be your shopping list or it can be journaling. It can even be that letter you wish you could write to your boss or your neighbor or whoever but you just don’t dare. The key is to write.

The key is to write.

And, on that happy note, I’m going to go do just that.

Mens sana in corpore sano

You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death,
and deems length of days the least of Nature’s gifts
that can endure any kind of toil,
that knows neither wrath nor desire and thinks
the woes and hard labors of Hercules better than
the loves and banquets and downy cushions of Sardanapalus.
What I commend to you, you can give to yourself;
For assuredly, the only road to a life of peace is virtue.

-Juvenal, Satire X

After moving to Texas, I landed a wonderful job that allows me some time to write, minimal dress code, and sitting all day in air conditioning in Texas summers, and heating in Texas winter. Sounds wonderful, right?

Except that after many months of sitting all shift long, my knees (not great to start with) had degenerated to the point that by LibertyCon my cane became a full-time necessity. Which sucked. A lot. And as my knees got worse, so did my balance, which led to falling on the kitchen floor and months of physical therapy.

So Peter and I committed to something we’d been kicking around: weightlifting and strength coaching, at a Starting Strength gym.

Deadlifts really suck. Well, to be fair, they’re sucking far less as muscle memory is starting to sink in and figure out that this body part does this while that does that, and hips here and breathe there, and yeargh. Except that our starting strength coach is determined to keep adding weight as we get better (thereby driving the adaptation and muscle growth that makes us continue getting better), so deadlifts will continue to suck for the foreseeable future. yay.

On the other hand, the sheer amazement of being able to lift a fourty-five-pound barbell in an overhead press when just a few months before I was working really hard in physical therapy to be able to raise that arm higher than my shoulder… this is pretty cool. And my knees hurt less, and I’m not limping at all unless the weather changes rapidly!

The first couple weeks were a blur of “just take me out behind the barn and shoot me” feeling on the lifting days (much less when working a shift after lifting weights in the morning. Whose stupid idea was that? Oh. Mine. Carry on!) But since then, I’ve started to find that I’m sucking down less caffeine, and skipping the painkillers I needed before to make it through each day… My concentration is improved, as is my ability to squeeze extra tasks into the day. Peter’s starting to find that he’s not feeling as mentally exhausted in the evenings, and is able to get extra hours of writing time in! (His take on it is here:

There really is something to this “sound mind in a sound body” thing.

To those of you who can become or stay active, look at me as a warning, and stay strong and healthy! (Try to avoid falling on wet tile, too. No good comes of bodyslamming the earth!) What do you do to stay fit?

And if you want to read about a couple active youngsters on a colony world, and the trouble they get into when they discover ruins that neither the humans nor the local natives knew about, check out Alma Boykin’s Shikari!

Adventure, daring-do, and dogs! ..and homework. Lost cities, alien politics! …and an older sister who knows just what Rigi “ought” to wear. Best friends, awesome uncle, and alien allies! …and stupid bully at school. Shikari!

Excerpt Here:
Buy it here!

A Change in Plans

A quick note before I get into today’s post. The series on formatting will continue next week. I want a little more time working with some of the programs I’m going to discuss before blogging about them. Sorry for the delay but I wanted to be comfortable with the programs before not only reviewing them but, in at least one instance, recommending them.

As for today, well, the title says it all.

Last week, I released Nocturnal Rebellion. It is the fifth book in the Nocturnal Lives series and the sixth title overall. This was the first series I started and Nocturnal Origins was the second book I published. To say this series and its characters have held a special place in my writer’s heart is to put it mildly. Because of that, I expected a few days, maybe more, of mourning after Rebellion’s release. Why? Because Rebellion brings an end to the current story arc and I’m not sure where the story will go from there — or when the next installment will happen.

Okay, that’s not quite right. I have a glimmer of a spark of an idea about where to go next but that’s it. Knowing Mac and company won’t be part of my regular writing schedule for a while is, well, odd.

Normally, I take a week or so away from writing after a book release to do some promotion and to simply get my head cleared of that book and ready for the next project. That’s when I try to catch up on my reading, reorganize my office — okay, cleaning it and getting it ready for whatever I’m about to start writing — sleeping and gaming. It is also when I catch up on those projects around the house that I put on hold while I got the last book ready for press.

This time, however, it didn’t happen like that. I took a day. A single day. Then I dug into my office, clearing away all the notes and research used during Rebellion’s writing. Once that was accomplished, I sat down and over the course of the next two days, made notes on the projects that have been floating around in my mind, those I knew I needed to get done in the next six months or so as well as others that, it seemed, had been lurking just below the surface until I finished Rebellion.

By the time I was finished, I had notes on 12 separate titles. 12. What the bleep?!? Fortunately for my sanity, not all of them are novels. More fortunately, some were for titles I’d already planned and, in a couple of occasions, are projects I’ve already gotten very rough drafts completed for — the next in the Honor and Duty series as well as the next in the Sword of the Gods series. What I hadn’t expected doing this were the several standalone titles that cropped up or the additional titles I hadn’t planned in the Eerie Side of the Tracks, including a novel that hit me out of nowhere but that I’m very excited to write.

So what’s the change, you ask.

First, and least important, is the fact I sat down and actually made notes on more than the current work in progress. I very rarely do that. While I’m not a pantser, I most definitely am not a plotter either. I’ve always fallen somewhere in-between. Whether this indicates a change in my process or not, I don’t know. I’ll admit, the prospect of my process changing is a bit scary. But it’s happened before and I adapted. I’ll do so again.

The second change is in the publishing schedule. Again, it’s no biggie. That is the joy of being an indie. I can shuffle my schedule as needed. But, in this case, there is no shuffling needed. I simply added more titles to it. In a way, that’s reassuring. It is also daunting because it means I can’t goof off and say “I don’t know what to write”. And yes, there was a teen-like whine with that quote.

The change is the obvious one. For the first time in more than five years, I don’t have a story with Mac in the hopper. Part of me mourns that. But it was time for this particular story arc to come to an end. Yet, even as I write this post, I know Myrtle the Evil Muse is thinking about what to do with our band of heroes next. She’s already teased (okay, tormented) me with a scene with a panicked Mac discovering she’s pregnant and wondering the best way to potty train the baby of two people who shift into jaguars. Do you buy stock in diapers or kitty litter? Do you buy teething rings or scratching posts?

You see why I call my muse evil?


Even as I sit here typing in this post, I hear Myrtle cackling madly. It’s not enough that she inflicted me with a book that wants to be written NOW! I feel a new series coming on. In case you’re wondering, it’s a bit like feeling a headache coming on. Why? Because Myrtle isn’t subtle. She comes racing in with her combat boots and bullhorn.

Seriously, the change I refer to in the title is more of a mental change than anything else. I noticed something as I wrote my last couple of books. I was allowing myself to be distracted by the internet, by gaming, etc. I know the reasons why but knowing them doesn’t always mean I do anything about them. So, I made the decision to change one very basic and yet important part of my writing. I have switched machines. My PC laptop no longer is my work machine. I’ll still use it for a couple of post-edit functions because it has a larger screen and some of the programs I use after I finish a manuscript. But the actual writing now happens on the MacBook Air. So far, it has been a very positive change. It is as though my subconscious understand that when I’m on the Mac, it is “work”. the PC is “play”. We’ll see how long that lasts.

I’m not recommending everyone go out and buy a laptop or desktop that is a totally different OS from what you have now. What I do recommend is that you review how you write and be honest with yourself about whether you are allowing yourself to become distracted too easily. I know authors who have machines without internet connectivity that they use to write on. Others don’t put games or social media apps on their work machines. I finally am starting to understand why.

The other thing I’ve done is blocked off several hours in the morning and then in the afternoon where I don’t go online. I don’t check email and I don’t go to Facebook or similar sites. This is “work” time. That has helped as well.

In other words, I am practicing what I preach — I am treating my writing like my business. I’m still looking at ways to get better, both with time management and with promotion. Boy do I need to get better at promotion. How about you? What can you do to improve your productivity? What techniques are you using that seem to help?

Random crumbly bits of author stuff

In no particular order. Your mileage may vary.

1) If you’re wondering about going indie, consider your lifetime fiction output. General rule of thumb — from a man I trust to know his business — is that “entry level” competency is reached when you have at least 500,000 words of books and stories in your trunk, and/or have several personalized rejections from trad pub editors. Prior to that, you may not have done enough “homework” to have your storytelling muscles up to the task of surviving in the indie marketplace. I know plenty of people immediately publish everything they’ve ever written, ever. I sometimes think that’s a mistake. I know I will get beat up for saying this.

2) If you’re wondering about going trad, consider your ability to withstand rejection. How long are you willing to wait for the editors/agents to decide you’re good enough? Keep in mind: waiting is not necessarily a bad thing. In my experience, breaking into trad pub print was one of the most satisfying events of my life. But I am from the old days, when the two options for authors were: outlast the gatekeepers, or shame yourself with vanity print. Anyone who has been through any kind of selection process — in any arena — will understand the joy of passing a tough bar. Just because it’s tough, doesn’t make it irrelevant. Although the tastes of many agents and editors can often seem wildly out of sync with the marketplace.

3) Editors and agents are not mind-readers. They cannot see into the future. There is no guarantee what will be a hit, or a dud, until it’s either a hit, or a dud. Some agents and editors develop reputations for “making” big-market talent, but this is akin to panning for gold: you have to devote a lot of time to sifting through silt, sand, and mud, just to get the little flecks and small nuggets of gold. In the words of one Hollywood producer, nobody knows anything. Ergo, the hits and the duds happen as they happen — and the one who ought to be a hit, isn’t, while the one who ought to be a dud, also isn’t. “Failure” in trad pub may have nothing whatsoever to do with the author or the stor(ies) and everything to do with events beyond an author’s control. Which is perhaps the #1 glaring flaw of trad pub that drives so many people to indie in the first place.

4) But indie isn’t an instant road to cash and fame, because now the slush pile is the whole world. Millions upon millions of books and stories being shoved at the audience, with fire-hose force. Standing out in that torrent, can be just as much of a chore as waiting in line at the gatekeepers’ transoms. You aren’t guaranteed anything. No matter how zealous you may be about the mode of delivery. Yes, indie grants the author full and total control, from start to finish. As well as the lion’s share of the take. But this also imposes the lion’s share of the responsibility. And if you thought it was painful waiting on editors and agents, it can be equally painful waiting on the audience at large. If you publish an indie book in the forest . . .

5) Don’t go cheap on covers. I know I am cutting against the grain with this. But seriously, don’t go cheap on covers. You want your cover to look like the trad pub covers that caught your eye when you were just a reader. Most artists will license an extant piece of artwork. May cost you anywhere from $200 to $500 dollars, which is stunningly inexpensive, considering that some of these men and women have done posters for Hollywood and done famous works which are known across the industry. I know many indie authors are poor as church mice, but still, don’t go cheap on your covers. You have a vanishingly short period of time in which to capture a prospective buyer’s attention. Pouring your heart and soul into a manuscript, then spending an hour on a free, terrible cover that you kludged yourself — with poor photoshop skills — is like devoting months of hard work to your diet and the weights at the gym, then going to the beach in dingy, grease-covered auto shop coveralls.

6) You can do everything right — according to the pattern established by your successful friend(s) — and still get bupkus. This is because the market is not a science. 1 + 2 does not necessary equal 3. It can equal 10,000 or it can equal zero. Consumers are legion, but they are fickle. They want a “sure thing” and herd dynamics dominate in every corner. Mountains of marketing advice is put forth, regarding ways to “game” the herd dynamic: get your product viral, so that the inertia of talk is on your side. When people are buzzing over your novel, especially if this buzz tends to self-reinforce as buzz-about-the-buzz, you can rake in wads. But there are still no guarantees. Like fishing. You can have the same type and kind of lure as your buddy next to you in the boat, with the same rod, same reel, same everything, and he will catch a dozen, while you reel in just one or two. Or none. And you have to be prepared to live with this. Pick yourself up off the hot pavement. Go wash your face and your hands. Then try again. And again. And again. And if this sounds way too hard for way too little return, there are 101 careers which serve as far easier paths to far better money.

7) So don’t quit your damned day job. Seriously. Do. Not. Quit. Your. Day. Job. It sucks trying to write full-time and work full-time. It sucks more not paying bills and being forced out of your house or your apartment. It sucks even more depending on the good will of your relatives, or your church, or government programs. If I had $10 for every embarrassed pauper author who proudly proclaimed, “I am a full-time writer, so fuck you,” and then (s)he went back to begging for lunch money, I wouldn’t have to work anymore. Starving artistry is not a holy calling. Really, it’s not. I know I am gonna get burned at the stake for saying it. But seriously, do not check out of the “mundane” work force. Not unless you’ve got a metric ton of dough in the bank, or you’ve got a spouse who eagerly volunteers to carry the mundane load — while you labor at the desk in the attic. But if you’ve got responsibilities to meet, and mouths to feed, please, meet them and feed them. As Steven Barnes said at Norwescon ’07, suffering for your art may be noble, but making your family suffer for your art, just means you’re an asshole.