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A fresh start

I’m beginning 2023 in a much better place than I’ve been in for a while, though it’s for a regrettable reason. My late Uncle Clarence, who passed away in early 2021, was surprisingly generous to me in his will, so thanks to him — and to the diligent efforts of my cousins, the executors — I’ve finally been able to pay off the entirety of the crippling credit card debt I’ve been burdened with for more than five years now.

I fell into debt in 2017 when multiple sources of expected writing income were all simultaneously delayed far longer than anticipated. I kept being assured that one or the other would pay off soon, so I didn’t make alternate plans; and I didn’t realize how steep the monthly interest on the debt was getting, so I thought I had more time to spare than I did. Since then, the interest has been so steep that it’s cancelled out any gains I’ve been able to make, so I’ve spent the past five years basically running in place, managing to survive from gig to gig but never making enough at one time to pay down the debt to a significant degree. My GraphicAudio work over the past couple of years helped me gain some ground at last, but that’s on pause at the moment, and Star Trek prose fiction has been reduced to a handful of books a year, so I’m not sure when I might get further work from them. So I was afraid I might backslide again if I didn’t find some new gig to tide me over, and I wasn’t having much luck with that.

So I’m deeply thankful that this inheritance came when it did. I can now afford to wait until things pick up again with contract work — and more importantly, I can use the time to finally focus on some long-delayed original writing. I’m getting ready to begin the manuscript for Arachne’s Legacy, the sequel to Arachne’s Crime and Arachne’s Exile, which I’ve been meaning to get to for more than two years now but never found time for. I’ve already been working on some new Troubleshooter material in recent months, with an eye toward serializing it on my Patreon before compiling it for print, so hopefully I’ll have time to continue that as well. (Just wait, though — now that I want free time to work on my own stuff, I half-expect someone to offer me a contract assignment with a tight deadline any day now.)

It’s also a relief to be able to ease some of the austerity measures I’ve been living under for so long. Already this week, I’ve indulged myself in some better, more varied foods from the grocery store, and it’s been so refreshing to get to do that. (Although one of my current favorite foods is one I discovered while searching for the cheapest foods available: canned refried beans. They’re fantastic on a faux chili dog with chopped onions, dijon mustard, and grated cheddar.) I also have the option now to buy some stuff I need, like new shoes and shirts, a new vacuum cleaner, a new laptop, maybe even a modern TV.

Although my priority at this point is to try to build up some real savings for the future, since after spending five years teetering on the brink, I’d really like to avoid going broke again if I can. With no more interest or late fees, my monthly spending will be considerably less, so hopefully I can finally start making more per year than I spend. (Being broke is really expensive.) If I can save enough, it will give me more of a cushion to tide me over through slow times. And hopefully that will give me more freedom to devote time to expanding my catalog of original work and building a larger audience.

Moreover, being broke has exacerbated my tendency toward depression, and it’s often been a struggle to motivate myself to write. I’m hoping that being in a more comfortable place financially will make it psychologically easier to be more productive. Of course, depression is not that simple or predictable, but removing a major stressor (at least for the time being) certainly can’t hurt, and being able to afford getting some new things and varying my environment more could help. (Though it’d be easier if the pandemic weren’t still around. I’m still not willing to go to the movie theater or any crowded indoor place if I can avoid it.)

Although I want to reiterate how grateful I am to my readers. You’ve provided invaluable assistance in keeping me afloat over the past few years through your donations, autographed book purchases, Patreon subscriptions, and Kickstarter support for my eSpec publications. I’ll do my best to continue repaying your generosity by producing cool stuff for you to read and listen to.

  1. January 5, 2023 at 9:38 am

    I hope that 2023 continues to be kind, and for more joyous reasons.

  2. RancherosIndustries
    January 7, 2023 at 7:03 pm

    I am sorry for your loss. But the solution to your struggles is (even though unfortunate) quite literally a deus ex machina. I find there’s irony in that. Not knowing about your relationship I did imagine your uncle having a chuckle at that, wherever he is now.

    Hope your find some more Star Trek work to support you financially. Can’t get it in my head that one of the biggest franchises in the world has its applauded authors struggling.

    • January 7, 2023 at 7:25 pm

      Trek books pay fairly well when I get them. The problem is that pandemic shortages have caused slowdowns in the publishing industry, and that and other factors have further reduced the output of Trek books lately. My problem has been that I’ve been too dependent on Trek work instead of having fallbacks for the slow periods, which is why I’m glad I’ve been able to form a relationship with GraphicAudio and start getting more of my original work published.

      And really, I’m a cautionary tale on why it’s a bad idea to try to survive solely on full-time writing. The fact that I was able to manage for so long on Trek work alone, until they hit a slowdown in 2017, actually shows how well it pays compared to a lot of writing work.

      The best way to help support me is to buy my original novels and subscribe to my Patreon. The amount I get from Trek work is pretty much fixed regardless of how many copies people buy, since it would take decades’ worth of sales to pay off the entire advance. But how much I make from my original indie or self-published work depends directly on how many paying readers I get for it. And the better my GA audiobooks sell, the better the odds they’ll pay me to write more of them.

  3. Andra Leigh schuettinger
    March 16, 2023 at 7:41 pm

    I hope you can write a 6th book for enterprise I need to know what happens. I’ll send money of some sort or something lol

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