Turn and Face the Strange

So, internets. Big changes in Noraland.

For the few of you who don’t follow me on Twitter and FB, I Did A Thing. Specifically, last Friday I started a Patreon campaign with the specific goal of breaking free of the 9 to 5 life. I launched it officially at 5:35 pm on Friday afternoon, thinking nobody would much care since Friday News Dump, and thinking that would give me time to fix bugs and work out any kinks in the campaign over the weekend. Instead, to my absolute shock, I hit my baseline goal within 24 hours, and my stretch goal within 48. And it’s still going. People really, really want me to have a retirement plan, apparently.

(For those of you wondering, since I’ve gotten lots of worried feedback — yes, I’ve accounted for roughly 30% taxes in my planning. The amount you see on the Patreon page is already sans the company’s 5% fee, and sans an estimated amount for people whose credit cards are declined, etc. Yes, I’m going to find out how to safely roll over my existing 403b retirement plan into something else. Yes, I’ve got a recommendation for a good accountant. Yes, I’ve already opened an LLC. Chillax, y’all. It’s lovely that you care, but I think I’ll be okay.)

Now, I’ve had mixed feelings about Patreon, and to a degree I still do. I do think it’s a great concept in principle — a modern update of the ancient model of patronage, where “impressing some wealthy person who will support you” has been replaced by “impressing a crowd of regular folks who’ll give you $5 a pop”. Thing is, I also see nothing wrong with complete self-sufficiency as an artist. Supporting myself via my day job means that I’ve always had the freedom to just walk away, if I wasn’t happy with my publisher or agent or the industry, no matter how my writing career was going. And I also see nothing wrong with having a day job and being an artist at the same time. See, the patronage model is based on the idea that an artist should be “pure” and unsullied by the world, their basic needs taken care of by the patron so that they are free to channel Art unfettered straight from the Id. Nah, eff that. I’ve worked in education for 20 years; there are few fields better-suited for understanding (and changing, in however small a way) the world. Quitting my day job has never been an aspiration for me because I’ve always known that artists need rich lives to make good art.

Still, artists need sleep, too — and my writing career has become demanding enough that something had to give. Rich lives change when they must. I’ve informed my boss, and I’ll be leaving the day job in about a month.

This is actually going to be a bittersweet transition for me. I like my day job. I briefly tried being a full time writer once before, back in 2009 or so, and I hated it then. I’ve always enjoyed working like I said, plus I wasn’t good at organizing my life without the outside structure imposed by a 9 to 5. I don’t think that’s going to happen this time because my career has progressed a lot more since those pre-The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms days. Now I’ve got eighty bajillion balls in the air, and the only way I can handle them all is by imposing my own structure on the mess. Still, I’m gonna miss my students and colleagues. Some of you may miss them too, since I’ve frequently Tweeted about them under the tag #StuffMyCoworkersSay, and I’ve entertained people on FB for years with tales of my boss, who has the magical ability to find anything we need somewhere in her office. (Strangest find so far: wax lips. Don’t ask why we needed them.) It has been a privilege to work with friends, and with students who brought so much light into my life. Gonna miss ’em all.

But I’ve got big, full-time writer plans, too, starting with a short story collection. As sad as I am about leaving 9 to 5 life, I’m pretty excited about the future.

What does all this mean for you? Well, book 3 of the Broken Earth trilogy is very likely to come out on time, now. I’ll also be putting out a lot more short stories, soon, and probably getting started on my next novel project before the end of the year! It also means I’m going to be semi-retiring this blog. I haven’t been posting frequently anyway, due to lack of time, but now I’m going to be posting infrequently because I’ve promised blog posts to my patrons. (Just $1-and-up, for as long as the total patronage stays above $3K/mo.) I will still put announcements and the occasional rant here, as well as sample chapters — though patrons will get those first. But yeah. Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Thanks, everyone, for supporting my writing career in whatever way you’ve done thus far. I think these are all changes for the better.

10 Responses »

  1. Ahhh I’m so excited for you! Supporting you 100% of the way!

  2. Thrilling! Nerve-wracking! (I refrained from tweeting you about taxes, figuring you got this whole self-employed stuff down, but inside I was going EEEK THE TAXES!)

    I’ve been hemming and hawing for a year about keeping my day job (which I love) and staying home (though for a different reason), so my sympathies there. Why do people need sleep again? I’d be perfectly fine if I didn’t need sleep…

  3. Hey, that’s great! It’s a wonderful mushy feeling when an artist you love has more time and freedom to create. :)

    I know you’re extremely busy, but I have a small question I thought would be great to hear your opinion on. Feel free to ignore this if you don’t have the time. :)

    I’m really sorry if this sounds super ignorant. There’s a contest involving PoC artists and I’ve been wondering if I qualify. I’m Indian, and I have lived mostly in India, so I haven’t faced serious issues of racism, and haven’t been oppressed by any particular group or community in my life. The only history of oppression I have is one that most Indians share, that is our colonial heritage, which shows in a fairly widespread white superiority complex. So I genuinely don’t know if I should apply, and I don’t want to feel like an imposter or fraud. I would really appreciate your thoughts on this, and since you’ve already written about related issues here, I thought you would be knowledgeable about this. Sorry if this comes across wrong/stupid etc.

  4. Vartul,

    That isn’t a question I can answer. Different organizations use different definitions of “People of Color”. Most (AFAIK) acknowledge people from India as such because in the US and other Anglophone nations, they do face systemic discrimination. A few orgs don’t, though, so you’ll need to ask them.

  5. Very excited for you–congratulations on taking the leap. And as one of your fans, I’ll look forward to whatever you share with us.

  6. so awesome, so happy for you!!

    i came to your page today just to say that last night i dreamed i went to my job at a bookstore and both the second and third Broken Earth books were sitting there on the shelf, one copy each, signed for me. it was weird, but i literally screamed in happiness and when i woke up i was really confused that i couldn’t find them in my bookpile here at home.

    not to rush you obviously–the wait is honestly one of my favorite parts of getting onboard with a series right at the beginning. knowing I’ll have glorious things to look forward to is an important part of my happiness in its own weird way. just wanted to pour out this little bit of love for you(r work). you do truly important stuff, and no one has ever entered the echelon of my favorites so immediately as you did.

    gratitude and solidarity,
    russ

  7. Hi there,

    Big fan here! Congratulations on being able to write full time! I am a small published writer (few short stories published here and there) and I work 9 – 5, with a long commute. I’d be really interested to know how you worked full time and wrote at the same time, if you have any tips?

    At the moment I leave the house at 7.20 and get home at 19.00hrs which leaves only the weekends for me to cram in writing. Any answers would be fantastic ;)

  8. I’ve been away from your blog for a minute. I’m so happy that you’ll be retiring soon and producing more of your lovely and powerful work!

The Broken Earth Book Two:

The Obelisk Gate

Thumbnail of The Obelisk Gate cover

Read Sample Chapter 1


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