Sunday, June 10, 2012
"A Man's Gotta Know His Limitations"
This article at Writer Unboxed has made my head spin for a couple of weeks. It speaks to me on several levels.
I never expected to be able to support myself with my fiction. The reality of the market these days is that very few authors can. Sure, there are the break-outs authors who make millions, but most writers still need to have a day-job. I think that has probably been true for most of the history of writing. Most writers either have had day-jobs that paid the bills, or they lived in garrets and starved for their art. (Or, in some cases, they had patrons or sponsors to help them.) All I ever wanted to do was to write stories, and share them with readers who might enjoy them. Self-publishing e-books is the perfect vehicle for that. It makes me happy. It makes me a little money. I'm okay with being a writer-on-the-margins.
What about the rest of my life? I have always lived within a very simple life. When I decided to take a sabbatical from daily writing, I established a goal of doing something I've never done before.
I considered various options. First, I explored the options of trying to make money. I thought about doing some on-line entrepreneurial stuff. Starting a website and trying to sell something or make money by promoting or reviewing products. I'd be good at that, because I love to tell others about products and services that I like. Unfortunately, I do not have the entrepreneurial soul. I'm afraid to risk money on a venture that may not pay off. I'm afraid to fail. And, frankly, I'm a little afraid of success as well. What would happen if I tried some online business and it started to pay off? Would I have the guts to quite my day job and go for it? Probably not.
Beyond that, I haven't been able to think of any adventures I really want to have, or anyplace I really want to go.
What I'm left with is working my original life-plan that I set out in my twenties: to make my life-style as simple and as slow as is humanly possible in today's 24/7/365 world. I have established a budget for my personal expenses that is only slightly more than what the Social Security Administration estimates I will receive when I am eligible. I plan to work at least part time as long as I am physically able, because if I don't go to a job, I will never interact with people -- and even I admit I need at least some personal interactions.
In a culture where we are encouraged to desire more things, which requires us to need more money, so we can have more, bigger, better things, it's easy to get caught up in thinking I should want to sell more books, get a better job, generate another income stream or move into a nicer house. There have been times in my life when I did let myself start down that path, but I never got very far. I always viewed my lack of ambition as a sign that I was afraid (which I often am) and/or lazy (which I am definitely not).
The real truth is: I am content to live within my limitations.