February 25, 2019 sort of marks the one year anniversary of no longer having a day job. Last day at work was Friday Feb 23, 2018. Recovered for a day, then started the new job Sunday morning.
I no longer get up at 0400AM, take a shower, and get out of the house by 425. Into the office building at 0500 when the garage doors open. Fix coffee and heat my breakfast while reading the news and catching up on my comics.
No longer sitting in the kitchen writing for two hours before I have to walk over to my desk and pretend to give a flying f@#$ about my corporate overlords. My last boss was a nice kid. And he was 20+ years younger than me, so I can call him a kid. Worked out of the Toronto office of the company that owned the company where I worked.
In the last 24-odd months I worked there, I changed bosses seven times. A, B, C, B, C, Q, X. B and X were the only two I’d ever consider working for again. Still send Boxing Day Greetings to X every year, just to say hi.
But I don’t have a real job anymore. And I’ve gotten into heated discussions with folks that thought I should treat full-time writing as a job. (They’re wrong, but don’t get it.) It is not a job. It is a hobby that somehow makes me really good money. If it was a job, it wouldn’t be any fun, because I would be taking orders and dealing with fools and hitting impossible deadlines.
F@#$ that noise.
I got the greatest hobby in the world, instead. I make shit up for a living. And it is a good living these days. I write lots. Publish lots. Have happy fans.
Today, we are celebrating No Pants Day. And let me tell you, going out to breakfast in a kilt in 40 mph, 26 degree winds was oh so much fun. But me and Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) sat and geeked out over the future of TradPub, IP valuation logic, Hollywood interactions, and tulip mania for a couple of hours.
We’re like that frequently when it’s just the two of us. Nerdy as hell.
It helps that she’s deeply in touch with the tradpub model, while I have a long background in corporate office politics (she worked from home for decades, so missed all those adventures). And I have friends on the Hollywood side of things who like to bemoan the fact that “the world has changed” and that their old methods of doing things just aren’t working any more.
Trying to get my buddy “E” to write me a book about how IP makes its way to Hollywood these days, because he and I spent an hour on the phone a few months ago and I was simply blown away at how little of the old models still hold.
Babe and I were also talking about some of the organizations that service the TradPub model and how they fail to meet my needs.
She’s a life member of SFWA, because back in the old days, she could pay a one-time fee. I’m not a member for a couple of reasons. For one, I was a best-selling author in Indie, making a nice living, before I ever qualified for my SFWA bones. Seriously. And I only qualified because Cat Rambo finally got the old shits to change the definition to include folks like me. (Folks you idolize who have publicly called what I do “Vanity Press” by the way. Next person who says that to my face gets slapped out of their chair. The only question then will be if I use an open palm or a chair. But that’s another topic for another day.)
What I have never been able to identify is anything that SFWA membership would do that would benefit me. I don’t write into the trade magazines. (I might actually, accidentally, publish something in an anthology one of these days, but that was because I wrote something after their deadline, based on the inspirational words of the editor at a post-deadline meeting. Showed it to her and she said “I want this.” Dunno if she’ll actually keep it, but that would be my first professional sale, if it actually happens.)
I don’t want an agent. I’m not planning to ever submit anything to TradPub. Too big a rights grab, too little return on investment, and total loss of equity. When I see SFWA sponsored workshops, all too frequently they make a big deal about having some big-shot editor or agent there to teach you how to better market your books to get a book deal.
So not happening. I make better money Indie than most of the “successful” tradpub authors I know, and that split will only get wider as I keep writing and building my audience and fan base. And some of those folks are writers whose books you have on a shelf.
As we were driving home, Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) and I were joking that what I would start, if I was angry enough, would be a competing organization to that did not focus all its energy on how to get a TradPub deal. I would focus on the business of how to succeed as a SFF writer.
The current groups teach you how to write SFF. How to get an agent. That sort of thing. Nobody, and I’ve checked, nobody teaches the business side of a SFF career. Kris and Dean have tried, and gotten ostracized by the old shits for their efforts because they were trying to teach people that icky commercial crap. (Their words, repeated as part of the story.)
They want you to have a successful career. The whole purpose of the Oregon Writers Network (or whatever it will be called now that they live in Vegas), is to get better at your craft, but at the same time to get better at the business side of things.
I would like to find an organization focused on Science Fiction and Fantasy careers. NINC (Novelist, Inc.) is a broader organization, and was founded by Romance writers, so they have a different focus on things. SFWA itself is married to the dying TradPub model and will only service those declining number of writers treading that path. (Remind me to come back in ten years and review where they’re at to see if they’ve died yet, or managed to reinvent themselves.)
Babe and I do sort of have something along those lines, in what we call the Seattle Writers Lunch, but that’s a group of local, professional artists that meet monthly to talk more business and less craft. Again, across the whole genre spectrum, from SF writers like me, through the list, to poets and photographers. Artists, but with a professional, career mindset.
And no, I don’t have the time to create such a thing. Sure as hell don’t want to be in charge of it, because I’ve got better things to do with my time and energy. That’s one of the reasons I write Business for Breakfast books with my wife. “Here’s what I’ve learned so far. Maybe it helps you get farther along in your career.”
But that’s life. I am one year into a full-time writing career that entertains and energizes me. I’m celebrating today by not wearing pants of any kind. Henceforth, this will be Kilt Day. Spent last night working on various sewing projects, one of which is a second kilt that I will finish one of these days. (pain in the ass, lemme tell you.) Eventually, I’ll do a long, winter kilt for snowy days like this.
What are you doing to celebrate the exciting and fun milestones in your life?