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— a modern update of the ancient model of patronage, where “impressing some wealthy person who will support you” has been replaced by “impressing a crowd of regular folks who’ll give you $5 a pop”.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.