Amanda’s post will be tomorrow, unless I’m incommunicado.  More on that later. She didn’t have it ready, because Real Life attacked her.  So…


As some of you have noticed, I’ve been writing a lot more for PJMedia.  Partly this is to try to cover the monumental hole left in our finances when the college decided younger son wasn’t eligible for more loans (because he’s taking two majors and three minors.)  Yes, he could graduate in one, but at this point it would take the same time because of administrative stuff, so instead he made a plan to graduate in one and a half years.

The problem is one of his minors — aerospace engineering — has a lot of graduate level classes, which hurt the pocket book even more.

The other problem is that my income is irregular.  As in, yeah, sure, I get a decent income, but I’m at the mercy of things like the book publication being delayed; when royalties come; etc and meanwhile tuition is due every semester.

Also, honestly, there’s a bunch of things we need to do on the house.  We bought it as a short sale, which means maintenance had been neglected for years and also they let their cat pee everywhere (which we didn’t notice for various reasons.  Mostly because the house smelled so much of pot you couldn’t smell anything else) and our cats are making those spots a massive problem (hence last week’s painting jag because if you killzee the marked walls, they leave them alone (so the issue is not OUR cats as such.)

So, I’ve been pushing on the PJ to the exclusion of fiction.  The problem is two fold: it doesn’t hit the “writing” to me so I am having “vivid fiction dreams’ which btw is not easy to sleep through.  And I’m sacrificing long term money (fiction pays more in the long run) for short term gain.  I’m also losing fans of the fiction for not continuing series/etc.

Also, honestly, 3 to 4 posts a week is too much.  One or two is okay and I don’t even notice (and it’s exposure) with the occasional 3 when I have something to say about something that really riles me.  But I can’t support another almost-daily blog. I’m not quitting PJ, I’m just going back to a more relaxed schedule and prioritizing my fiction.

Husband, who is my minder has noticed all this.  We’ll figure out a way around the financial crunch (of course these things come at the worst possible time) but my main focus is to do fiction from now on.  To initiate that, I’m going away for a writing weekend this weekend.

I’m going to a remote area and I might or might not have phone service.  Reports are mixed.  If I have service, I’ll put Amanda’s post up tomorrow and the regular Sunday post.  If not Monday evening I’ll let you know how it went.

Meanwhile, I think husband is right.  This falls within the law of “day jobs” ie. in my case, take a day job when needed, but no one that interferes with my ability to write, because long term that’s what has paid/is likely to pay for me.

It’s easy to lose your long term priorities in the fores of “must do now.”  It’s time I reset.

Hopefully the weekend will do that.

Let that be a lesson to you on how easy it is to get out of track without even noticing.  Keep an eye on your goals, or they’ll vanish beyond a false horizon.

101 thoughts on “Priorities

  1. Sarah!! this comes at just the right time for me!! i.e. priorities!! totally different overall circumstances, but bottom line, i spent money (gasp) on stock images for book covers, and my priorities were questioned. (by someone who cares, but has different life perspective… ) (and yes, my bills get paid every month) still, made me feel like a 12 year old who failed math or something!
    thank you for reminding me that what we do is, in fact, a priority, and has value even if others don’t see it.

    1. They questioned your priorities because you bought stock images or because you didn’t buy original art? Because stock images, to my mind, are the “financially responsible” choice, so how would someone question that?

      I hear you on how other people don’t always see writing as a priority but that’s way easier to deal with than if *you* don’t see it as a priority. That’s the problem I tend to have. I’m the one who isn’t getting her priorities straight.

      1. I am actually trying to write “A Indie Author’s Business Plan: Cashflow from Your First Words to Quitting the Day Job”, mostly for my own edification.

        How much for covers, art, editing, proofing, etc for each release and planned cashflow, when and how to advertise, etc. Once I have a pitch I want to see if I can get some interviews done.

        A book? Maybe, but I’m amazed no one has done it before (Huns providing a dozen links in 3, 2, 1…)

        1. I’ve got a couple of books on how to manage money on an irregulag income mostly for freelance writers and such. And I think Chris Kennedy put out a book on self-publishing and some of the costs associated with it, but I don’t think I’ve seen a comprehensive guide like you mention. I think it would be very useful and would certainly be interested in purchasing a copy once you have it all together. Or if you need input/feedback on some of the steps.

                1. Yes. They expect a certain percentage of parental income to pay for kids’ education, at least until a certain age. Kid’s savings OTOH they expect 100% to be paid for education over 4 years, even if their education route is by definition more than that. That your son is getting multiple degrees & minors, that any sane person would realize is more than 4 years. But No. To the money people, each degree is 4 years, therefore he should be able to all of them in the same concurrent 4 years. Don’t remember does FAFSA even ask about degree? …

                  Kid graduated 7 years ago, & we stopped filling out FAFSA after the 2nd year. Why bother? Never did fill it out for me my second time, 35 years ago; again, why bother.

                  All because retirement savings, which isn’t “suppose to count”, unofficially does. There are more than one financial columnists shouting “NO, NO. DON’T. Just Don’t touch your retirement savings or equity in the house to pay for education.”

          1. Sounds like Chris Kennedy is more what I’m after.

            And of course I need input. My writing career is at the “butt in chair and nothing else” phase. That’s why I’m after this data…for example, what do cover budgets look like and what is reasonable. What does cash flow planning look like. Advertising, etc.

            I have heard people planning on $2000+ to launch their first indie book between editing, proofing, and covers and to be quite honest, that sounds insane.

            At $3.99 and 70% royalties that is 716 sales (actually, 717 but you get over 90% of that last one) in nominal dollars return. No accounting for discounting of FV on sales versus PV on expenses which for a first could could be considerable (even at today’s cash rates on $2000 even FV being 90 days out makes a difference).

            Of course, PV of variable future cash flows is a big part of the day job. Maybe normal people don’t think that way.

            1. At one point I was looking up editing services, and if I remember right that’s the low end of the just-short-of-being-mentored level “help,” where an editor makes suggestions on storyline and stuff.

              1. I have someone in my no longer meeting writer’s group (and also in my broader social circle) who is a freelance editor. She offers a first timer first pass rate of $1/page. I haven’t ask for the full race.

                And not to be mean, but she has all of two novels out herself plus some shorts. Yes, she has an MFA with a program that actually thinks genre writing is valid, but still he costs are what got this wanting a business plan. That’s also where I’m figuring you’re looking at $2000+ to do it the “right” way: edit, proof, and pro cover and layout.

    2. Technically, it’s a gamble.

      Of course, it’s not exactly a horrible gamble, and it’s less extreme than, oh, moving across the country to somewhere you don’t know anybody because the pay is better and the taxes/costs are massively better.

      You DO have to spend money to make money, after all.

    1. You recently described one involving travel, theft and partial recovery. Now I have had my own variations of it since.

    2. yeah I have them, or sometimes.. odd dreams. Like, why were we all in the Houston airport?

          1. LibertyCon South, 2024. Timed to coincide with the Lone Star Gun Show and B-B-Q Cook Off, amazingly enough. 😉 (“Bullets to Brisket, it’s all Smokin’!”)*

            *No, alas, doesn’t really exist, but it would be a great combo, wouldn’t it?

                1. Maybe the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives would be interested in sponsoring a convention.

  2. Partly this is to try to cover the monumental hole left in our finances when the college decided younger son wasn’t illegible for more loans (because he’s taking two majors and three minors.)

    I didn’t know that loans themselves could feel under the weather — I just thought that was how the holder of the loans felt when contemplating paying them off. 😉

      1. Now I’m trying to imagine a spell of illegibility:

        “Well, what did he look like?”

        “I couldn’t tell. He was illegible.”

      1. If it was med school, that’s one thing. Illegibility is a course requirement in prescription writing. But engineering?

        One of his minors isn’t in Education focusing on High School Mathematics, is it?

    1. We were talking about the squirrel!!! That needs to be chased down like it was a tennis ball with a tail!!!!

      Er, sorry. My inner labrador took over there for a moment…

    2. First thing you wanna do is get your priorities straight, get them in a line. Let them get into a box or, worse, a circle and you’re shafted.

        1. What are they summoning?

          Nothing good, not circled priorities.

          Is there a demon of misordered priorities?

          1. The Noonday Demon, Sloth. This is in the technical sense, where sloth covers not only doing nothing, but doing, however, frenetically, things are not what you should be doing.

          2. A demon of misordered priorities?

            I think there are demons for individual misordered priorities. Fans of Northern Exposure will recall Ed’s problems with the Demon of External Validation, which is certainly a subcategory of misordered priorities.

  3. Sure, run off to your hidey hole. Nobody here cares about your punk ass anyway!
    In way of explanation, when my mother in law passed away and my wife was standing at graveside the younger boy sidled up to his mom, put his arms around her, and whispered in her ear, “nobody cares about your punk ass anyway.” At which point she lost it and then came out of her funk.
    Sarah already knows that story, at least if she remembers.
    Translation from guyspeak, we love you, we care about you, go off and do what needs done, and let us know how things go and if we can help in any way.

  4. And just to underscore, keep taking that day off. Health is an important priority so that you can keep doing all those things you need to do otherwise.

    Vivid fiction dreams are fun, though I agree they aren’t always restful.

  5. … I am having “vivid fiction dreams’ which btw is not easy to sleep through.  

    If your Muse is calling PLEASE pick up.  Otherwise the most peculiar things can happen.
    Some years ago I encountered someone else’s errant Muse.  This Muse was quite peeved because her writer was not picking up.  She approached me to let me know that I was to inform them that it was about time they did so.  She never mentioned to whom this message belonged.  It was also clear she was not going to be pleasant if I was derelict in conveying the information. 

    Muses comes to one often uninvited and unannounced.  The side effect of any such encounter is flashes of their hidden world.  They are not a wholly pleasant lot.  I would rather not be aware.  Moreover, they would rather I not have this knowledge for I do not belong to them. 

    1. If should happen to have some upset muse, kindly re-direct them back to me.. AND let me know.

      File this under… Probability: Zero? (well, close to it.)

      1. Does your muse look like a fashion plate from the fifties, a lush linguine raven haired beauty driving a Cadillac Eldorado convertible circa 1960 — which silently glides over the pavement without wheels (something which you don’t notice until she has gone)?

    2. If your dreams come knocking,
      and you don’t pay attention to them.

      They will keep on knocking,
      and grow in insistency.

      That muse will not be ignored,
      and she will come for you in real life.

      Greek demigoddesses have much power,
      and are prone to fickleness and capriciousness.
      Be warned!

  6. Mostly because the house smelled so much of pot you couldn’t smell anything else

    I am told if you can get the cats to smoke pot they don’t care about marking anymore, but they also don’t care about targeting the litterbox, so no net gain.

    Have a fun weekend!

  7. When you get back I’d sure like to hear what you think are the advantages of a change of location for writing. Lots of advice tends towards having a writing *place* where writing happens (and not Facebook) but a set spot all arranged nice to feel professional and productive and “now I’m at work”.

    I suppose that the classic Coffee Shop is a change of place and people find that productive.

    A weekend away is more than that.

  8. It’s easy to lose your long term priorities in the fores of “must do now.”

    Ah, the story of my life.

    Without you around to entertain us for the weekend, we might be forced to do something productive.
    I hope you can live with the guilt.

  9. I would rather you write stories I can pay you to read than block posts. I can argue with the Huns if you write a thousand words on the post or ten.

    Now, a new Sarah story…yeah, that’s something special.

    *pulls out a chair*
    *points at the seat*

    Your butt goes here…we’ll be outside and fine while you take care of the important stuff.

    1. You! You you, you! Why you! And you, too, you!

      (See, we can argue even over pretty much nothing!)

      Says you? Says I.

      I says…. I says…. I says…. Moo!

      1. I would rather write stories you pay for Orvan, but I’m not sure I’m there yet (although I have one on Amazon if you insist).

    2. So, you are saying that this absence is the time to address the landscaping around the layer? Here I thought we might could do something about that plaid paint that hasn’t aged very well.

      Well, never mind. If it is all outside work my skin informs me I should minimize participation, even with SPF 50, long sleeves and broad brimmed hat. I’ll be in the library camping in my reading chair, with this decanter of port and plate of cheese, fruit and crackers. Call me if you really need my help, otherwise I’ll ignore you all.

  10. I understand the muse. Just with software, which I wrote for 35 years. Don’t know how many times my dreams told me how to do something, always solving some code problem. Yea, work disturbing, got worse when one could get to work stuff from home, because one could get up & work. Made the work day, at work, then, not fun. OMG if it was a meeting day …

    Now retired. For awhile it was really bad. After almost 3 years of “Shut up. Not my responsibility.” it has slowly stopped. But it has switched to “You need to tell … No I don’t. Go away. They can figure it out. If they can’t, still not my responsibility. Go away.” /Sigh.

    1. When I have had dreams involving writing code, they have usually been nightmares where I trying to solve some problem, but the problem and the code I am working on keep changing…

      1. You mean, your dream programming problems were pretty much like real life?

        An early version of the Microsoft Macro Assembler couldn’t assemble its own example code, and many of the command line switches in the documentation simply returned error messages at the command line. Not to mention compiler directives, most of which were only “documented” by their use in the examples, and not found in the manual itself.

        I even remember the fonts; Microsoft used so many of them each page looked like a ransom note, all of the fonts being some spidery Germanic-looking dogbarf (and if a little kerning is good, MOAR kerning is betterer!) that made my eyes bleed.
        They were so bad I had to stare at each line to make sense of it…

        Thirty years later I can work up some wry amusement, but I wound up spending far more time battling MASM and its documentation than being able to write software.

      2. It usually means I’ve been working too hard.

        if I ever dream of a computer game, i stop playing it

      3. The last coding dream that I had (many years ago) involved each branch ending in an instruction to get married. Great thanks that I knew enough to ignore the dream.

    2. Used to get those after layoffs – deep in REM sleep, and suddenly a solution to that intractable problem on that project manifests.
      “Go Away.”
      “No, you just need to…”
      “Not my monkeys; not my circus. I don’t work there anymore. They riffed me. Unless you’ve got something that needs to get added to my resume, go bother that guy who had to do my layoff interview.”

  11. When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s easy to forget you came to drain the swamp.

      1. Oh, and belts. Can’t forget belts. You really don’t want your pants falling down around your ankles when you’re up to your ass in alligators.

  12. Yep. Reality in the form of health whapped me in the head on Wednesday. Right now, Day Job has to be the focus, writing second. And my body is no longer 18 and able to Do All The Things!!!!!!! at once, or at least within 18 hours, seven and a half days per week.

    The Muse can take a break.

  13. Stay safe, stay calm, stay away from the phone, even if you have one! This is an impatient bunch, true, but I think we can wait for our presents, knowing that they are coming.

    Even I did eventually train myself to wait until Christmas to find out what was inside the intriguing wrapping paper. Mind you, I was someplace in my thirties by then, but I did manage it!

    (Bit of selfish hope here – I’d like to see the other nine parts of the short story writing class on PJM. But if it is not to be…)

    1. Seems to me the short story writing class could do double duty with a link here. Or at MGC. Or both.

      Which would get Sarah paid, let us be educated, and keep her from feeling guilty (hopefully?) about not writing a blog post. Goodness knows we’re fans of the writing prompts.

  14. If it’ll help I’ll see about a couple of guests posts for you. No shortage of stuff to write about these days. ~:D Signify in the usual fashion.

      1. We’ll fix it! We can make it better, faster, stronger! We have the technology!

        …why am I channeling Rex?

        1. There’s a certain level of enthusiasm that leaves you going “Wait… what? I did all that and dang if I didn’t have fun doing it.” It’s the happy counter to the slick smarmy guy who you find yourself arranging a birthday party on behalf of even though you’d really rather strangle him. Same kind of charm used for good not evil.

  15. Well, this is convenient, even though I know you weren’t hinting for it it is about time to tap the tip jar.

    1. Which reminds me that reminder is on my calender today.

      Reminder, donate to Hoyt.

      I think both the single and periodic paypals are up. I think I will probably be discontinuing these reminders in a few months.

  16. Plinkett review of the Last Jedi, up on youtube, has some interesting lessons on Storytelling.

    1. I’ll track it down, but I’m expecting something along the lines of “Don’t do this. And this. This, definitely don’t do. Also this…”

      1. I’m persuaded that the Last Jedi, which I haven’t seen, is most likely flawed. So, some of that, sure. There are subtler, less obvious errors, and he does discuss stuff done right. He provides enough information on TLJ as a project to do root causes of failure analysis, without going full “You know, there’s a lot of reason to think Lucas’ original success was accident and Leigh Brackett.”

        I think it is fairly respectful, considering the subject matter, so the coverage of the review sounds like struck nerves.

        There is one statement in the review that suggests the reviewer thinks that Star Wars is a bit played out, and I don’t agree with that. I think Disney is employing a bad creative team, and a good one would do much better.

        “You didn’t notice, but your brain did.” is a pretty good explanation of viewer/reader satisfaction or dissatisfaction that isn’t explained by a single element.

  17. I am having “vivid fiction dreams’
    So *you* are the one invading my head at night!

  18. Ahem. *claps paws together* Seeing as how Sarah is happily ensconced in the quiet wilds outside Undisclosedlicationville, who wants the honor of starting the smoker for the Occasionally Repeated Hun and Hoyden B-B-Q? Any volunteers, please remember to use the lighter with the blue handle only for the kosher smoker. Plying the Smoker-Supervisor-in-Chief with adult libations in exchange for getting ahead in line when the food is served is Strictly Frowned Upon.

    And no, alas, I’m afraid the crown roast of coelophysis wasn’t available this year. The supplier had some problems.*

    *For those wondering if I’ve been in the catnip a little long, there’s been a long-running joke about grilling dinosaur meat and having an amazing cook-out at AtH that goes back to at least 2012.

    1. My old Jewish Boss used to eat a lot at the Momma’s Soul Food Restraunt across the street from the shop. He claimed the Smothered Pork Chop (chop deepfried, set on rice and black eyed peas or red beans ladled over it) was definitely Kosher.

    2. Start the smoker…OK…I know I left a case of thermite grenades around here behind the bar somewhere…Hmm…no, those are flash bangs…

      OK, field expedient, then. Hmm. C4? Yep, got that, but where are the detonators?

    3. What? looks about

      Oh, I see, Fluffy is taking the weekend off and lounging about the minion pool, hanging out with the sea serpent.

      The aardvark wished to remind everyone that you are to use only physically possible BBQ sauces, and that means physically possible IN THIS UNIVERSE.

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