Weighing Importance

I’ve been doing a lot of adulting lately. Which, strangely enough, actually looks very similar to panicking: the increased heartbeat, the sweaty palms, the tears threatening to fall past your eyelids.

The shrinking bank account.

disney scared aladdin nervous worried

Moving out and living on my own in a kickass apartment is fantastic, but the bills that have followed are not so much. Pair that with working a three-quarters time job that doesn’t allow for a minute of overtime. Add in the fact that the bills I have acquired are barely covered by what I make in a month. All this results in a stressed out pseudo-adult who struggles constantly with the reality of my situation and the choices that result from that.

The reality is that my bank account is pretty much stagnant, as all my income directly vanishes to pay bills. So the money that I had left over from the move and saved up during my time living with the ‘rents sits in my bank account without the possibility to increase. In fact, with bills such as utilities and groceries varying month to month, the chances are that my very small nest egg is going to decrease over time. It definitely isn’t going to increase.

This reality leaves me with two main choices that I switch between on a daily basis.

Option A: Getting a Second Job
The obvious remedy to my financial stagnation is to get a second job. That second job could help increase the nest egg that I currently have and also help take the pressure off to not spend any extra money, if possible. I still have plenty of things that I would like to get for my apartment. I really want to save up my vacation time to travel abroad once each year–can’t really do that when you aren’t able to save up money to fund said travels. I’d like to be able to go out to eat or catch a film in the theatres every once in a while without feeling guilt and freaking out about how much I spent. I want to start working on my sleeve that I have planned out in my head but never felt comfortable spending the funds on (plus, finding a good tattoo artist is hard). I have yearly doctors’ appointments that still need scheduling, an oil change that is looming and who knows what other one-time expenses that are going to pile up, thus depleting said nest egg. Getting a second job makes the most sense.

Yet at what cost?

The biggest one is time. Mainly, writing time. Since I moved out onto my own, I’ve been averaging roughly 5,000 words a day, writing roughly four hours a day. I have read four books. I’ve caught up on my editorial work. I’ve been writing more blog posts and book reviews. That output in extraordinary for me and something I am totally not used to. And it is something that I cherish highly, already, even though I’ve only done it for two weeks. I don’t want to give up that time for a second job.

But what does that cost?

Option B: Living off a Tight Budget
The cost of not getting a second job is obviously very literal. I’ll be living on a much tighter budget. I’ll have to really limit what I buy and when I buy it. I’ll have to minimize my utilities expenses any chance that I get. I’ll have to be more aware of where my money is going and be more on top of balancing my checkbook. Some of the things I’d like to have in my apartment might not get purchased. And unless my bills somehow lessen so I can make more than I owe, eventually, the money is going to run out and I’m going to be forced to resort to Option A. It’s inevitable.

But if I choose Option B, I can give my writing the attention it deserves. I can take it seriously and truly treat it like a second job (as I should). Though I’ll always be hyper aware of my financial situation and stressed out, I’ll escape from it all within the worlds I’m currently writing about or revising, at least for a little while. I can work towards my ultimate career goal of publishing books and making a living as an author. Even if choosing Option B is just for a few months, before I’m forced to get that second job (unless a miracle happens and my current job promotes me to full time. *snorts*)

Of course, I could try a hybrid of the two. Get a second job that I only work a few days in the mornings or work Fridays and Saturdays, so I don’t have a day off. Not write every day but still write a few days out of the week. Sleep a little less, be forced to prioritize my hobbies a little bit more. Yet I hesitate. I selfishly want a weekend. I enjoy the Friday Girls’ Nights that have happened the past two weekends. I’m able to go to my friend’s wedding this weekend without taking off of work. I can go home and see my family without trying to balance multiple jobs. And sometimes, I just want to be a bum on a Friday and play videogames all day, never changing out of my PJs and eating leftover mac and cheese.

*lesigh*

At the moment, I’m not actively searching for a second job. I’m going to begin the first round of edits on my fourth novel this week to prep for the #P2P16 contest happening in October. Yet I’m aware that while I really enjoy my schedule (working evenings and having the mornings and afternoons free to dedicate to my creativity), that schedule isn’t enough to live a life absent of financial stress. And I’m really tired of bawling my eyes out trying to balance my checkbook or watch as my bank account shrinks ever slowly. Yet is financial stability and comfort worth the price of creative output? Is creative output worth the stress of living paycheck-to-paycheck?

I don’t bloody know.

Cheers.

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About Nicole Evans

Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the “un” removed from that statement. She has five completed manuscripts: a trilogy about destined heroes that fail anyway, a science fiction standalone that pits the natural desire to love against the natural instinct to kill during the extinction of the human race and a new series about a writer who can't get published and gets the chance to live a life that all writers dream. She also has two scripts done. Currently, she is about to start writing the second of a nine book series while planning two more. (If you can tell, she really likes this whole writing thing.) Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games (which she believes is retribution for the characters’ she’s killed), wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works part-time as a supervisor in a library at the University of Kansas. View all posts by Nicole Evans

6 responses to “Weighing Importance

  • M.L.S.Weech

    When I’d published my first book, I was an E-6 in the Navy. I left that well-paying job with all it’s incentives (we have allowances for housing and such). I got to stay at DINFOS as a teacher, but my hours didn’t change. I still work long days. I won’t divulge the discrepancy, but I make less per month than I would, especially considering I’d be an E-7 by now had I stayed in. I won’t compare my situation to yours. I don’t know your debt vs income ratio. But I feel as your situation is comparable to mine or vice versa. I know what it is to be worried. I’m worried I won’t be able to afford to publish another book after Caught. I’m afraid all the time. But then I take a look at my budget. I take a look at my plan and my options, and I go from there.

    (On one note, have you considered bringing in a roommate? This is VERY hard to do sometimes, but it does a lot for a budget.)

    My point is that what you must do, is what you feel is right. I have a line of people who want to tell me I should have ridden out the last 10 years of the Navy. I’m just not built that way. I COULD NOT be the Sailor I was AND the writer I want to be. I couldn’t handle that pace anymore. I tell my students, “If you don’t LOVE the Navy, get out when your tour is done.”

    I don’t know what I’ll do if another opportunity presents itself. I love teaching. I love writing. I want to do both until the day I die, and this is the perfect situation for me in terms of fulfillment. So far, I can proudly say I haven’t let money determine my actions. But adulting has it’s issues, and the day may come where I have to find something that pays more.

    But I find a sense of victory every day I choose to do what I love even though it causes stress. I find a sense of joy every day I teach and then come home and write. Every pay day is agony, but those two days a month are nothing compared to the 28 or so days between them. This is because I’m doing both the things I love. I may HAVE to change that, but I’m a man who demands to win or lose. I can handle HAVING to find a higher paying job. I can handle HAVING to find a roommate. But I won’t let “hard” or “difficult” take me from what I love to do because I see myself by these things.

    Do what you feel is right. I won’t lie, more days than not are tough for me, but I can smile at the end of each day because I love it. It’s worth hard and tough because I love it. Just like I tell my students. When one’s love for what they do is less than the stress of doing it, that person should move on. Do what you must. But do it with a plan and with an eye on what you love and who you want to be.

    My unsolicited advice. Whatever you do, if you want to be a writer, just write. Everything else will fall into place in its own time.

  • Joyce C

    This is something Elizabeth Gilbert mentioned in her chat with Ann Patchett here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGYMgAIpP5M around the 1:06:10 mark. Give it a watch – it really helped me put things in perspective!

    I get your struggle, though. This is a dilemma a lot of aspiring writers face: time to write, or regular income. It’s not hard to think of the day job as taking us away from our real job – if it’s not your heart’s work, why are we spending so much time on it instead of building our own dreams?

    But Liz’s stance is that it’s the mark of a true writer to persevere through all the suck to devote ourselves to our writing nonetheless, that we shouldn’t put our art in jeopardy because we’re trying to make ends meet.

    Hang in there! I can’t advise on what you should do, but think of the many writers who had to make ends meet and support themselves on mediocre wages just so they could keep their writing dream alive. You’re not alone in this!

    • Nicole Evans

      I need to stop seeing your responses when I can’t actually watch the video! *grr* But I will definitely check it out!
      But based on what you described of Liz’s perspective, I have to agree. And it’s comforting to know that even if I’m forced to get a second job, I’ll still write. To *not* write is never an option, no matter what life throws at me.
      Thank you for taking time to read and for being so supportive. ❤

  • R. K. Brainerd

    Life, in a nutshell.

    You’re a rockstar. I know you’ll make it work, and succeed with your dreams. I believe in you.

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