Yes, kids, I’m dusting off the ol’ blog machine to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Empath, my anxiety dragon book that has been a quiet hit around the country. When the book first came out, my twenty-or-so fans were treated to a series of introspective blog posts about what really scared me. I updated them about three years ago, but I thought it would be fun to update them again with how far I’ve come.
You can read the original blog post, “I am afraid of having no money,” here. Keep reading after the jump for the update.
And go #SlayYourFears today!
One of the big things I feared when I quit my Big Girl Job was that I’d run out of money. Or really, I was terrified of giving up a steady, reliable paycheck in favor of the unknown. I had become comfortable in knowing I had enough to cover my bills every month. My chest would get uncomfortably tight when I thought about having a bill and not having the money to cover it. While this can be a healthy fear, my anxiety took this to an unhealthy level – to the point where I would shut down any of my own questioning about doing anything other than commuting an hour to and from work, having all my work regularly thrown out, and just being miserable. This was the way it was, and I would just have to deal with it, because the alternative was too terrifying to even think about.
So when my quarter-life crisis came along, I finally let myself think about it. I was shocked to hear this little voice inside my mind (long time readers know her as Suni), tell me that we should quit this stupid job, sell the house and everything I owned, move home, write some books, and figure it out.
And that’s exactly what I did.
Publishing: Lots of fun, not so much income
I will be clear: up until recently, I was losing money in the publishing business every month. Part of that was poor decision-making on my part and trying to keep up with the Joneses. I’m not a traditionally-published author, so trying to keep up with their swag and preorder campaigns is an exercise in futility and wasting a ton of money (she says, with over 200 Demon Spring buttons floating around her house still…)
Since actually taking a class on marketing (thank you Mr. Dawson), I’ve finally turned the corner. Brynna, in particular, hit the perfect nexus of trope, plot, and audience in the YA Fantasy audience, and she’s on track to erase all the debt she’s incurred (including all ads, editing, printing, and roughly $6k in covers) by the end of July. Considering Demon Spring (released in 2018) is still limping along trying to recover, I’d say that’s not too shabby for only 15 months since the first book released. And now that I’ve got another YA fantasy rattling around in the noggin, I might actually be able to continue that success. There’s a steep hill to climb to get out of the dumb mistakes, but I can actually see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Making it Work
So how have I been surviving if my books don’t pay my bills? About three years ago, I ended up nabbing the perfect freelance gig in the same industry that I left. Luckily, it’s about 80% less involved and I get to set my schedule. It’s been the backbone to the writing journey, and every day I still have it, I’m thankful for it.
There are a couple more caveats: I’m incredibly privileged in so many ways, including my good health, my dad helping me flip houses, and marrying a man who’s in a similar financial situation (though that’s a recent acquisition). And I’m not advocating everyone give up their jobs, nor am I shaming anyone who does the mental math and says that staying in the 9-to-5 is the right decision for them. It might end up being the right decision for me once we have some kids or if Obamacare goes away (which provides both of us our insurance).
What I am saying is to do the mental math. Explore the possibilities that might be out there from the safety of your safety net. See if you can take a hesitant step out into the unknown and find something you didn’t expect. Don’t let a fear prevent you from even asking the question, as it did for me so many years.
Slay that fear. You never know where you’ll end up.