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Be Thankful, Be Prepared

I am in a most-excellent situation, for a writer of fiction.

Last year, my wife and I made some dramatic decisions and completely re-arranged our lives. We sold or gave away more than half of our “stuff”, sold our house, moved to Florida, and generally downsized our lives.

We did this for two reasons: The economic reality of our situation in Indiana, and, to give me more time to really focus my efforts on writing during the second year of my MFA program.

My typical day, during the school year, now looks like this: Get up, check email and Twitter while making coffee and Cami’s breakfast, eat breakfast with Cami (and let our beagle lick our plates!), prepare Cami’s lunch/drinks/etc and load up the dishwasher, work on some writing-related networking (blog, website, surf for research and story ideas, etc), say goodbye to Cami, work on my writing (either editing, new writing, submissions, etc), break for lunch, read a while, mid-day email/social media check, go back to writing, fix dinner for Cami when she gets home, and, depending on the night, maybe some more time for writing/reading/research/critiquing/etc. Sure, there are days when I am called to substitute or times when I tutor. There are other things that come up (the dog has to go to the vet, the car needs work, the weekly trips to the grocery, we dirty a lot of dishes for just the two of us…) but, this is a general overview of my “typical” day.

I know. I’m blessed. We’ve structured our lives so that we can live on one salary and I have all the time in the world to really get a lot of writing done. (It’s still never enough, but that’s a different blog post.) And, generally speaking, I’ve been happy with my output, both in volume and in quality. (The work is also still never good enough, but that TOO is another post.)

I am very thankful for this past year (we’ve been in Florida 13 months now!) and I’m excited to accomplish all of the things I have before me in the coming months (thesis, seminar, monthly group submissions and critiques, submitting my own work, my blog, my website, another internet-related project I’m kicking off, a children’s book series I’m starting to work on).

But, I’m also preparing. Preparing for that post-MFA slump. Preparing for possibly having to re-join the real world. Preparing to still be a writer, even after the MFA has been completed.

I am preparing by doing three things: Building my portfolio of completed work, building my network of creative friends, and building my lists of places to submit my fiction and places I might do other work.

Next summer, I’ll likely be at a point of decision: to re-join the 9 to 5 work world, or cobble together income streams from other sources. Writing short stories isn’t a big-money proposition (and for most of us, neither is writing a novel), so most fiction writers have to find other ways to pay the bills: teaching, articles, bag boy at the market, whatever. I’m working now to have some things in place to allow me to generate some income, but still have time to be the writer I’m supposed to be.

I’m thankful I have a supportive spouse who has the same attitude about the “stuff” we have or could have or used to have, and I’m very thankful to have this opportunity to do what I love, what I find most fulfilling, what I was created to do.

There will be more on this theme in future posts. For now, have a great week, and Happy Writing!!

P.S. Thanks to all of my regular readers and those of you who stopped by for any reason. Last week the traffic on the blog was the third highest since I started, and the highest “normal” week, ever. (The other two higher-traffic weeks were both influenced by specific events that generated a lot of traffic that was not even writing related…) Thank you so much for reading! And please, don’t be afraid to leave a comment and have a discussion. That’s why I’m doing this blog!

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