GNH

It’s been a couple of days since we decided I wouldn’t be doing any more conventions for the time being, and I feel pretty okay about that decision.  As much as I enjoy conventions (in a Leslie Knope kind of way) I feel a certain amount of relief that I don’t have to scramble to find a way to pay for more booth fees since SLCC didn’t bring in money for that.

We made another decision that has been more difficult to reconcile, though.  That night while crying in my wine glass filled with cheap cab, I said, “I would give up all my creativity just to be financially stable.”  At the time I meant it.  Living in the US sucks if you are poor.  There’s the being food or housing insecure, but there’s also an added layer of judgement that comes along with being unable to pay your bills.  Thanks to our Puritan roots that equates wealth to worth, happiness is seen as only deserved by those who have an emergency fund, credit card balances paid off each month, and a retirement fund.  If you struggle from month to month, or live paycheck to paycheck, you are expected to be miserable.

I have struggled with more than societal expectations.  My ex made several times more than I did our entire relationship, a fact that became a problem after I had Charlotte.  I stayed home because it was decided that my $10 an hour would just get eaten up by childcare costs.  And once I lost that income, my worth to the relationship dwindled.  It didn’t matter that I was cleaning and cooking (things I did before I left my job).  The time that I spent raising our daughter didn’t count either.  Because there wasn’t a dollar amount attached to my efforts, I became a sort of indentured servant, paying for my keep with maid, cook and nanny services.  There’re reasons we divorced, and that’s one of them.

Coming back to the other night: all of the above was swirling around in my head when I admitted that I would trade the thing that made me happiest, the thing that made me who I am, for a respectable living.  I probably would have kept thinking that if Stephan hadn’t asked me if sewing made me happy.

“Yes,” I said, not really seeing what that had to do with anything.

Well then, what if we took the money factor out of things, he asked.  Not that I wouldn’t still sell my work on Etsy, or stop taking commissions.  Just … stop worrying about making a certain amount each month. What if, for the next few months, I focused on the happiness that sewing and writing brought, rather than the money?

It’s not an easy idea for me to wrap my head around.  I’ve been told all my life that I am lazy and irresponsible with money.  Just working without an expectation of making money seems to align with those ideas.  Jerk Brain, too, has chimed in with all sorts of guilt-inducing comments about how others don’t have the opportunity to take a sabbatical, and that the idea “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is just a bunch of privileged, white woman talk.

I’m trying to get around those obstacles, though.  I’ve spent the last twenty years of my life trying to justify my right to life through my income.  Taking four months to sew, write, bake bread, clean house and be the woman I want to be isn’t too much to ask out of a lifetime of being a wage slave.

After all, Stephan is back to regular hours at work after summer hours saw him working three days a week instead of five.  We can make that work to cover the monthly bills and any cash I make can go towards chipping away at our debt.  What’s the worse that can happen?  We won’t get out of debt as quickly as I had wanted.  But since I didn’t have any more conventions planned for this year, and since they weren’t bringing in the big bucks like I had hoped, it’s not like I am risking anything big.

The hardest part is giving myself permission to focus on what makes me happy.  I’m not comfortable with that idea.  And the fact that I am uncomfortable makes me sad.  I have to let go of the idea that I can’t really enjoy what I am doing until I am successful at it.  I’m not sure I will ever be okay with the emphasis of gross national happiness over gross domestic product.  For the next four months, though, I’m going to look at that discomfort through a lens of challenging my societal upbringing, and assure myself that at the very worst I can go back to measuring my worth by my bank account come January 1.

Dreaming of a Craftsman Economy

“I like your computer,” she said. “It looks like it was made by Indians or something.”

Chia looked down at her sandbenders. Turned off the red switch. “Coral,” she said. “These are turquoise. The ones that look like ivory are the inside of a kind of nut. Renewable.”

“The rest is silver?”

“Aluminum,” Chia said. “They melt old cans they dig up on the beach cast it in sand molds. These panels are micarta. That’s linen with this resin in it.”

One of the things I loved most about the novel Idoru by William Gibson was the idea of handmade computers.  Going beyond the limited customization offered by tower cases and laptop decals, he presented a vision of one of a kind units.  In a world of cheap T-shirts, fast food and Walmart, the idea of something so unique, so intentional, has instant appeal.

One of my greatest disappointments of the future is that we haven’t embraced a hand-crafted model like the one described in Idoru.  There are hints of handmade technology—phone cases here, apps, widgets and live wallpapers there—most notably in the Steampunk genre where a DIY aesthetic is applied to everything from fashion to machinery to vehicles.  The glimpses, though, serve more to highlight the predominance of mass produced items.

I think about that a lot, about how we have reached a point where we shouldn’t be relying so much on mass produced clothes and furniture and houses.  I wonder what it would look like, to live in a world where there were more crafters, making more beautiful things for people.

It’d require a higher standard of living than we have right now, that’s for sure.   Obamacare has been helpful in easing one of the main reasons people don’t strike out on their own.  But when you can’t be certain if you’ll make enough to survive, all the health care in the world isn’t going to convince you to leave your day job.

A guaranteed income would probably be necessary.  Or at least creating a living wage.  If we could ensure that people wouldn’t starve, that they would have a place to sleep, that they could have their basic needs met, what would they accomplish?  If someone could be certain that working forty hours at a fast food place paid enough to meet their needs, what could they do with all the extra time they didn’t have to spend at a second or third job?  How many cottage industries would crop up, providing beauty to replace the beige and plastic molded bits and bobs of our lives?

I don’t know. I’d love to find out, though.

It’s a Man’s (Business) World

The last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a business plan for Idiorhythmic Designs.  Last year I had been dedicated to making it my full-time job, and last year I was still working on my depression and anxiety, so I didn’t make much headway.  During my down time I decided to approach it from the ground up, writing a business plan, coming up with a logo, getting my social media use up again, all the ground floor stuff you do when you start a business.

I spent a few days at the library reading over business start up books, books about how to write business plans, books about how to run a crafting business, books upon books.  And I sat there and answered questions about my business vision, my projected revenue and expenses, my ideal customer, etc. I felt frustration creeping up on me.  It’s a feeling I’ve gotten every time I’ve read business books.

I love reading business books.  I find them entertaining and informative.  And as someone who never studied business and has difficulties with impostor syndrome, I am always trying to fill the gaps in my knowledge.  But I find that they all seem to come from the starting point: a point in which the way business is run and has been run for seemingly forever is the default to aspire to.  There are books that are aimed at “creatives”, at “non-business people”, at new comers and outsiders.  But their goal is to teach those without an MBA how to fit into the business system.  These books accept, without question, that the current system.  And it is a system predominantly rich, white and male.

Two years ago I read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.  I was excited when I started the book.  I wanted to find ways to approach being a business owner that weren’t rooted in telling women to be like men to succeed in business.  I believe that there is so much corporate culture could benefit from if it stopped making white and male the ideal.  I especially wanted to see examples of cultures that honored and valued other measures of success beyond the bottom line (employee happiness, how the world is made better by companies existences, benefit to society, etc.).  Mostly, I wanted to see a shift in way companies behave, because if I am going to live in a country where corporations are considered people, I want these corporate people to be productive members of society instead of the sociopaths the so routinely are.

The more I read Sandberg’s book, though, the more frustrated I became. At one point she wrote a description of a meeting of female engineers at Facebook, “…she encouraged them to share the progress they had made on the products they were building. Silence. No one wanted to toot her own horn. Who would want to speak up when self-promoting women are disliked? Jocelyn switched her approach. Instead of asking the women to talk about themselves, she asked them to tell one another’s stories. The exercise became communal, which put everyone at ease.”

The next paragraph is about how women need to be more self-promoting (an assertion that I don’t disagree with) but I felt Sandberg had missed a very important point.  That meeting told me that there were other ways to do things, that communal sharing could be just as important as tooting one’s own horn.  And rather than celebrating having found a new way to get those engineers involved, she took it as a sign that those women really needed to work on molding themselves into someone else. It was so disappointing to see that moment of epiphany taken to that same old ground.

I’d much rather an environment that encouraged sharing and cooperation than one that insisted on the individual over all. And seeing how businesses currently work, placing emphasis on profit over everything else, rewarding CEOs even when they fail at the expense of the employees at lower levels, etc. that some community-minded policies might just be a better change.

All of this has been hanging heavy on my mind as I work on building Idiorhytmic Designs and pondered all the ways I went wrong with Eggplant.  I recognize that I fell into several traps with Eggplant: I put too much emphasis on what a publishing company should look like, I spent too much time trying to “fake it till you make it” which made it impossible for me to say I was having mental health problems and ask for help.  I was trying to fit the way I wanted to work, and the type of company I wanted to run into a corporate ideal I found uncomfortable, to say the least.

As I sat in the library study room, I tried to concentrate not on numbers and marketing speak, but on how it would feel to run Idiorhythmic right.  On what it would mean to me and my family to be able to get to four large conventions in a year.  On how I would balance having Ben underfoot while I sewed hundreds of dice bags.  I focused on what I wanted to accomplish, not in terms of money, but in terms of how I run this business will support and amplify my values of sustainability, small business success, custom work, equality and justice.  It is an ethic that means I want to buy supplies from local stores and from other sellers on Etsy.  That means not buying supplies from Hobby Lobby (because I find them ethically offensive) or from mass producers in China (who are easy to buy from now that Etsy has allowed them to operate carte blanche).  It means a focus on making a modest profit and feeling good about myself, rather than making a larger profit and contributing to a problem I see.

I ended up drawing a lot of my business plan.  I don’t consider myself an artist, but I have found the mind map method of plotting to be very helpful. I’ve also not taken the writing of my business plan too seriously, as evidenced by my Facebook statuses at the time

mansbusinessworld01 mansbusinessworld02 mansbusinessworld03 mansbusinessworld04

It’s not that I don’t think that a business plan is important. I know it is. Right now, though, it is just for me, and taking a irreverent keeps me from falling into those old mindsets. Will I be able to stick to my beliefs going forward? I don’t know. But at least I am trying to shape my worldview and my business goals so that they are in harmony. And if that isn’t worth trying, then I don’t know what is.

2015: The Year of Slightly Less Poverty

So 2015 was supposed to be the year I returned to sewing and started living a more creative life.

How did that work out?

More or less okay.  I overestimated how well I was, thinking that my mental health was fine now that I was on medication. That wasn’t really the case, though.  I spent most of 2015 battling my anxiety, at times unable to leave the house.  Since I was working from home, that wasn’t a deal breaker.  But it made getting supplies, sending off packages and the like more difficult.  Not impossible, but requiring a greater amount of scheduling and having things go right.

The depression was a bigger problem to contend with.  It would sap me of motivation and energy.  Coupled with the insomnia, I had to fight for every productive moment for the first half of the year.  It has only been in the last two months that I have found myself more often stable than not.

On the financial front, things fared about the same.  My grand plans for a limited number of large conventions hit speed bumps.  Two of them costing me money.  Those pretty much knocked the wind out of me economically speaking.  It’s only been in the last month that I have caught up on my bills.

But you aren’t here for value updates on how the year went.  You want the nitty gritty.  Just how much money did I make on this quest to earn a living by my creative endeavors?

When it is all said and done I made a gross income of $3,858.86.  My expenses equaled $3,976.53.  So my year ended in the red by about $120.  Up until I paid for my Anime Midwest booth I was in the black for six months of the year, though.  Not great, but not catastrophic.

How did I make my money?

Commissions $1,185.00
Etsy Sales $759.21
Direct Sales* $1,475.50
Other** $407.46

With that $120 in the hole sitting there, the question some might ask is: Why are you going to keep this up in 2016?  I’m asking a different question: Having made almost $1,500 in convention and direct sales with two awful events as part of the mix, how much more could I earn vending at two larger, more established events this year.


* The include sales at conventions as well as sales to people who contacted me directly rather than through Etsy.

** Stuff sold on E-bay, E-book formatting work, etc.

In a World …

There’s a meme that has been making the rounds on my Facebook newsfeed.  “In a world of Kardashians,” the meme says, “be a Diana.”  I’ve seen a few variations of the meme.  “Be a Stevie [Nicks]” says one.  “Be a Rey [from Star Wars]” says another.  There are probably others out there, telling people to be whatever type of woman the meme author finds better than the Kardashians.  And it’s one of those memes that annoys the fuck out of me.

Those pseudo-uplifting ideas that are meant to promote individualism, but only a very specific kind of individuality.  Much like those Real Women Have Curves and When Did This Become Hotter Than This memes, the idea is based on promoting one standard of beauty at the expense of another.  And like those memes it’s poison.  Because when you base your self-confidence on tearing down another’s, you are participating in the same destructive rhetoric that society uses to enforce conformity and to punish those who don’t fall into the narrow definitions of what it means to be a woman.

Just as bad is the inherent sexism in the meme.  Like the other mentioned memes, it is always aimed at women.   If Kim Kardashian was instead Kevin Kardashian, the memes would be very different.  Kevin would be considered a smart business man, a trendsetter, the head of a corporation that influences media, fashion and technology.  The memes would be comparable to ones extolling the virtues of The Most Interesting Man in the World or Overly Manly Man.  But instead, despite being a successful entrepreneur and having a net worth of $85 million, she’s held up as the wrong kind of woman to aspire to.

I realize that progress has been made on so many fronts: body acceptance and positivity, body diversity, rejecting harmful beauty standards, celebrating and encouraging differences and individuality.  And I recognize this is just a phase in that progression.  But I will be very happy when we move beyond this grade school attitude that in order to celebrate what makes us special we have to tear down those who might find their own specialness in the status quo.  Or, as I put it on Facebook:

In a World Facebook Post

 

Random Acts of Craftiness

Spiral Goddess ScarfIt started with a scarf. I had a dozen or so fleece scarves sitting in a plastic bin, remnants from when I had an embroidery machine.  Some I tore apart and turned into rugs.  I didn’t have it in my to destroy the others, though.  One in particular, soft green sporting an embroidered spiral goddess, deserved to be worn rather than trampled on.  On a whim, I mailed the scarf to a friend, a pagan who hated the winter cold as much as I do.  I didn’t tell her it was coming.  I didn’t even know if she had received it until she posted a picture to Facebook.  The sight of her smiling face struck a chord deep down inside of me.  This was right.

I have always liked giving gifts.  As an introvert dealing with anxiety issues, it’s a way of expressing love that is safe.  I especially enjoy making gifts: something beautiful, something soft, something that will last and raise a smile every time it is used.  Giving a handmade gift is giving a piece of myself to someone, a permanent way to say “I love you.”*

But when you are trying to make a living through your handiwork it can be hard to divorce your creative efforts from the dollar sign.  Every hour you aren’t making inventory, you aren’t making money.  Every day you aren’t working on a commission you are failing by capitalistic standards.  I love you’s don’t put food on the table, after all.

The push back, however, is that we aren’t just meat-robots.  Humans need to feed more than our bodies.  Especially those who deal wit depression and self-loathing.  Creating for the sake of it, gifting to others, is more than a rebellion against art as a commodity, it is an act of self-preservation.  It is a way to balance the current, often crushing expectation for every aspect of our lives to have a monetary value with the absolutely essential need to establish that people are priceless.  Human creativity doesn’t come with a price tag.

It was a couple of months after I mailed off the scarf that the idea of Random Acts of Craftiness gelled.  I posted a picture of the Eighteen Panel Skirt on Facebook and a couple of friends brought up the idea of a trade.  Their crafted goods for my own.  Then later, I posted the Majestic Fucking Unicorn cross stitch pattern and two more friends requested completed works.  I said yes in both cases.  Yes to engaging in a craft exchange.  Yes to sewing a message of support and love for people I care about with no expectation of anything in return.

Crocheted Turtle of LoveGranted, saying yes was easier than the follow-through, at least at first.  The balancing act between money and love has tipped more often than not in the favor of money.  I’ve had to steal time from myself to finish projects.  But with each one completed, I have felt how right it is to do so.  There are kinks in the system, of course.  Finishing works and getting them out the door has proven a stumbling blocks as well.  Getting out of the house to the post office can be extremely difficult.  Slowly, though, love is leaving this house in parcels.

And in return, love is coming into this house.  A crocheted turtle sits in my workshop now.  Every time I see it I smile, think of my friend, and feel that I am loved.   I will fill this house with books and family and reminders that there are those out there who believe their time is worth more than money, their creativity has no price tag.

 


*I am not the only one in my family who does this.  My sister sends semi-regular packages to me filled with cookies and other goodies she has baked.

Good Things

Over the last week or so I’ve been struggling to find the positive in life. News of people being killed, lions being poached, politicians being politicians and my country’s insistence on not addressing any of its problems has worn me down. Today I found out I’m not the only one. A friend on Facebook mentioned he was having a hard time finding positive things to share. He asked others to post something positive and the first few comments were of people searching and failing to find good things.*

I am making an effort here to list the good that has happened recently. This is mostly an exercise for myself. Perhaps it will give someone else a well-needed smile or boost.

  1. Since Enya passed, Trixie hasn’t been eating regularly.  Before she would have to eat everything in her bowl on a schedule because a) Enya insisted on staying on schedule and b) Enya would finish her food and then go after Trixie’s if there was any still in the bowl.  Now that she is an only dog, she seems to have taken to eating only when she feels like it.  I can’t leave her bowl out with food because that is, indeed, how you get ants.  The last couple of days I’ve taken to putting a bit of peanut butter in with her dog food and joint supplement, and that’s just the motivation she needs to eat as soon as the bowl hits the floor and finish everything.
  2. As silly as it sounds, the new IKEA catalog is out and that makes me happy.
  3. While our gardening exploits haven’t been as fully realized as we had planned we have still managed to harvest a modest amount of greens and herbs.
  4. Stephan loves his work and his work loves him.
  5. I went to the library on Sunday and spent almost three hours writing with minimal anxiety.  This Sunday I am going to try it again.
  6. One of my dice bags was featured in a treasury on Etsy.
  7. Speaking of bags, I got my first order of Spoonflower fabric last week and made bags from it.
  8. I am going to the gym again.
  9. This .gif:

WTF Baby Jesus .gif

In the grand scheme of things a catalog or workout or dog isn’t much.  They won’t make the world a better place overnight.  What they will do, is shore up my ability to deal with the anger and sadness and frustration I experience every time I read the news.  They’re what keeps me from flipping the world the bird and hiding in a bottle of Scotch until the rising sea levels drown us all.  It is an element of self-care and it is important.

Tonight I am having a glass of wine and flipping through the catalog.  Tomorrow I will wake up to more atrocities and fights and causes, some of which I will be able to feel like I can do something about.

I hope those of you reading this can find more good to offset the bad.  It’s a rough world out there.  Take care of yourselves and each other.

 


*Eventually his post was overflowing with good things, including a link to this Tumblr.

RIP

When I wrote my love letter to my dog Trixie a while back, I meant to follow up with a post about my other dog, Enya on her birthday.  Well May 11 came and went and I didn’t get around to writing that post.  So here I am, July 15, and I am ready to write about her on the day of her death.

Enya came to us a month or so after my ex and I bought our house in 2002.  Her previous owner was a neighbor in the apartment complex we had lived in.  The owner had lost her job and was moving to another apartment which didn’t allow dogs.  It made sense to take Enya.  She and Trixie already knew each other and got along, and Enya was a sweet, beautiful dog. Over the years she was at turns funny, dumb, annoying and sweet.  Throughout it all she was a loving girl who didn’t know she wasn’t a lap dog.  When my ex and I separated, but were still living together, I moved into my office, sleeping on the futon there.  Enya was the one who made herself at home in the evenings, followed by Trixie, so that I didn’t sleep alone during that time.

Enya’s death didn’t come as a surprise.  Over the last couple of years she’s gone deaf and partially blind.  She had a stroke last year.  In the past couple of months she had been having accidents around the house.  But through it all she was her usual self: always wanting attention, always on the lookout for food dropped on the floor, always keeping watch for untold dangers (such as neighbors mowing the lawn, kids walking to school, etc.).  Last night she ate her dinner without incident.  Later in the evening she stood up, legs wobbling, unable to get her bearings.  I got her outside where she collapsed on the grass.  I recognized the symptoms from her stroke.  Stephan and I got her back inside and comfortable on a blanket.  We sat with her, checking on her, giving her love and attention.  At one o’clock in the morning she was gone.

Our friend, Chrissy, came over today to watch the kids while we buried Enya in the back yard.  I’ve never dug a grave before.  Really, it’s not different from any other kind of digging.  We could have been prepping to plant a tree or digging a well, or any number of other chores.  There was no pretending this was anything other than what it was, though.  And I was glad for the physical work of it.  As we dug through clay and rocks and roots I had time to process what I was doing.  All morning long I had engaged in evasive chores: folding laundry, cleaning the backyard, tidying the house.  As long as I didn’t have to think about my dog she wasn’t really gone.

Stephan placed her body in the hole and I sprinkled a handful of dog food and a splash of water down on her.  “I don’t know where you’re going now, but in case you get hungry here’s some food and water.”  I cried … again.

Sitting with her last night, digging her grave today, I realize just what losing Enya means.  My Jerk Brain has made an art of calling into question others’ feelings for me.  It works constantly to convince me that people put up with me out of pity or because they want something from me.  It has told me time and again that people are blind to how shitty I really am.  “If they knew the real you, they’d abandon you like you deserve,” is the constant refrain.

But Enya was a dog.  Dogs just love you, no strings attached.  Why does Enya love me?  Because she’s a dog.  That’s what she does.  My jerk of a brain couldn’t tell me that her love was conditional or that she’d run if she knew what a bad person I am.  My relationship with Enya was Jerk Brain proof.

This hurts, despite knowing it was coming.  I feel ragged and raw.  I have spent a lot of today cuddling with Trixie, knowing that one day, too, she’ll be gone.  I won’t be ready then, either.

RIP Enya: my butt licking, rabbit poop eating, lap sitting, tail thumping, compost munching, old lady dog. (May 11, 1999 – July 15, 2015)

 

Putting a Face to the Jerk Brain

As long as I can remember, Jerk Brain has been with me.  My earliest memory of it was in kindergarten where it pointed out how my coloring wasn’t as good as the other kids around me.  This voice, coming as it did from inside at all hours of the day and night, I just took as being part of me.  If I ever thought about it, I figured it was my very own demon Jiminy Cricket.  A critical voice telling me like it is; keeping me honest and on task by reminding e that I had to always be on guard against my natural inclination to be lazy and a waste.

It hasn’t been until the last year or so that I have become able to treat the Jerk Brain as an entity separate from my person.  Therapy helped with that when one therapist asked me to give it a name.  My first instinct was go with “Adversary” or “Nemesis”.  But I rejected those ideas as granting that critical, inner voice too much stature.  I settled on Jerk Brain as the most honest label.

Giving it a name helped, but only so much.  The voice is still there, quick to criticize and blame.  I’ve come across other suggestions on how to diminish or weaken Jerk Brain’s prominence in my thought processes.  There are techniques of changing the tone of Jerk Brain’s voice, making it sound like Mickey Mouse, or turning down the volume like on a stereo.  Another suggestion was to minimize it like an annoying pop-up window.

None of those solutions worked for me.  Having lived all those years with it, I have a hard time dismissing it.  When I have tried, it fights back, accusing me of ignoring it not because it doesn’t have my best interests at heart, but because I just don’t like what I am hearing.   I engage with that line of thought, get dragged into a debate on why I should be able to ignore Jerk Brain.  It is exhausting to find my mind a hostile place where i have to constantly justify my existence.

Which brings me to the realization I had a few weeks ago.  I needed a way to undermine Jerk Brain, to cut it off at the knees before I got treated to yet another chorus of “You’re not really depressed, you’re just lazy and here’s the proof.”   And I thought to myself: if my Jerk Brain was a person I was actually living with, I would have moved out long ago.  On the heels of that thought came the image of someone in my life who has been thoroughly unpleasant to me the entire time I have known them. This is a person who has said truly hateful things to my face and when called out on their unkindness responded with “But it’s true!”

In other words, this person is the Jerk Brain personified.  More importantly, though, I know nothing they have said to me is true. I have no problem ignoring their words because I know they are calculated to hurt me.    It was that realization that has changed how I interact with Jerk Brain.

For the past couple of weeks I have been able to tell Jerk Brain, “I didn’t ask for your opinion.”  And because I can say it with confidence, it works.  Jerk Brain, in the guise of this person, shuts up.  It has been one of the most satisfactory feelings I have had in a good long while.  I can picture Jerk Brain’s sour, puckered mouth, the hunched shoulders and crossed arms, just as I would see in the real life person who has been so nasty to me.  I don’t even feel the twinge of guilt that would otherwise follow the satisfaction of telling someone off.

I don’t know if this is a permanent solution.  Jerk Brain is a tricky creature, capable of evolving it’s tactics in response to my defenses.  For now, I’ll take whatever respite I can get from my jerk of a brain.

Making it Work: Adjustments

It’s once again time to play “Just how poor are we?”  Since satisfaction, happiness, health and stress levels aren’t easily reduced to numbers, I’ll break down how much money we’re actually making off of this attempt to live by our creative efforts.  Our net earnings in February are below:

Etsy Sales $33.12
E-book Royalties $2.00
Commissions $98.00
eBay $100.00
Total $233.12

Royalties & Etsy are self-explanatory.

Commissions were all Stephan in February.  He started making chainmail in earnest last month and had several people request customized pieces.

I added eBay just because it’s income.  We had a book that we got for free and that neither of us wanted.  Rather than let it gather dust, we sold it.  I’d rather have books go to people who want them and will read/use them, than sitting unread on a bookshelf.*

It’s clear, after the disaster that was Fan Fest, that we need to make some tweaks to our plan.  We do believe that we can make the convention plan work.  But we need to actually make it to the conventions, which requires an influx of money.  To that end Stephan has taken a part-time job.

I was worried that taking a job would invalidate all our plans and hard work.  It’s not even three months into the grand scheme and we’re already failing our goals.  I’m afraid that we’ll give up on the idea of living off of our creative efforts before we even got a chance.

Stephan, as is his way, is more optimistic.  The job is only part-time, with a manageable commute.  This means he won’t be out of the house ten plus hours a day.  He’ll still be here for the kids (his hours are 10-4).  He’ll still have time for chainmail.  He’ll still be able to go to conventions.

So, this is just a course correction.  Our end destination—living on our own, in our own way—remains the same, our route has just taken a diversion.

Image: Success by Demetri Martin.


*This reminds me that I need to update my Bookmooch account.  I have several books I picked up at library sales specifically to trade and I know the list has fallen to disuse.