My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Remote Milestone

Before this blog, it never even occurred to me that a milestone
was once literally a stone to mark the miles.
I made myself a promise when I started this blog.

Well, I made myself two promises, but you probably aren't interested in the one about the brie cheese and the day old carp jerky.

It's been almost two years now, and way back in February of 2012, I made myself a promise that I wouldn't get "stuck" blogging.  I was going to give blogging a serious try and I wouldn't hold anything back in the attempt, but it wasn't going to be a thing I did endlessly with no progress. I wouldn't be one of those losers forever gnawing at the same bone and claiming that some day my ship would be coming in. (The writer versions of these types are particularly self-delusional and pathetic.)

No, I would have something to show for my efforts by February 2014--two years from my start date--or I would focus much much more writing attention on something else.  I'd probably still blog, but something more along the line of once every week or two.

I just didn't want to be one of those writers that kept spinning my wheels trying the same thing for decades. I see them submitting stories over and over to no avail or forever retooling their novels to submit yet again, and it breaks my heart. More than that, it makes me really wary of the fine line between not giving up and not knowing that it's time to give up. Writing is very much a world where tenacity merits out, but tenacity alone isn't enough. It must accompany some measure of skill and creativity.  It's really hard for a writer to know what the difference is between not trying hard enough and just totally sucking.

There is a point at which writers need to face that they must either do something drastic to get much better at their craft or decide that writing is just for their own personal enjoyment, but that they are never going to carve out a living.  I needed a point at which I evaluated whether to "stay the course" like all the follow-your-dreams cliches, or if I should "know when to say when" like all the know-your-limits cliches. The choosing of cliches upon which to live one's life is a serious matter.

I even set a goal, so that evaluation would be objective: $100 per month.  

Technically, I also threw in an "and/or one blistering groupie threesome per quarter" clause, which I figured was imminently reasonable since supportive girlfriend has already committed to being one third of such an event. You'd think being two thirds there would make the rest a cake walk, but it turns out that last third is the real doozy.

A hundred dollars a month is not enough to pay the bills. It's not enough to live on. It's not enough to justify the 30+ hour weeks of writing I do to get the blog content out to the world.  (For the hours I put in, it would be, in fact, less than a dollar an hour.)  But compared to the $.05 per week I was making back then, it would represent real, genuine progress. I thought it was a good amount. It seemed to me that it was a number that crossed the Rubicon between "hobby at which I happen to earn some money" and "(extremely) labor intensive side line job that no self respecting Malaysian sweat shop worker would accept."

Because that's totally where I want to be!

I watched that two-year mark getting closer and closer.  February 2014.  I even had an app counting down the days.  Slowly, inexorably, the it approached.  18 months. 1 year.  200 days. 16 weeks. A penny every few days became one a day.  A penny a day became a few cents a day. A few cents a day became ten or fifteen but with the occasional day of a dollar or two. A high school friend (whose inspiration is matched only by her generosity) began to earmark ten dollars a month for Writing About Writing. A few dollars here. A couple more there. I always felt tremendously grateful, but it simply wasn't getting anywhere close to $100.

Now here we are three months from the date, and I can already tell you that it's not going to matter...

The world of snarky writing advice sheds a single tear....
Because I've hit that number three months running!! And I've hit it five months out of the last seven. And unless something goes very wrong, I'm going to keep on hitting it.

It's always from different combinations of revenue streams.  Sometimes it's a birthday present donation. Sometimes it's a bunch of little donations that manage to add up. Once it was a reader and friend--who hates paypal--pressing a twenty dollar bill into my hand at a social function over my objections.  Most of the time it is more miracle than anything--a reaction to one particular article, a fluke day of four small donations, or an 11th hour ad click that tips me over the edge.  Often it has a lot to do with The Patron/Muses and their awesome awesomeness. (And I will be adding a new one soon to that list.) But somehow it just keeps happening. Some synthesis of events ends up stumbling over the milestone. And while $100/month is not even starving Bohemian money, it's progress enough to stay the course.

So despite some of the best attempts of "Anonymous" to make me cry, I'll be sticking around. Oh there will be new goals--new points in the future where I will have to admit that I'm never going to save up for retirement on a few hundred dollars a month or that hookers and blow require more than a four figure salary.  And perhaps my pen is destined to be hung up one day. But for the time being, it seems you're stuck with me.

Thank you all so much for reading, and for many of you who have taken a chance on me by donating your hard earned money. I can't tell you enough how much you inspire me.


  1. w00t!!!

    You had me scared there for a minute, sir! Well played. Also, congratulations and here's to new goals!

    P.S. I'm not a robot, and that captcha thing is pure evil. I have to hit refresh at least twice before there's a combo I can make out. Of course... I'm old, so there's that.

    1. Thank you!

      I'm no fan of the captcha either, but when ever I turn it off, my inbox explodes with spam. It literally takes about twenty minutes before I have a whole page of unread spam messages on Gmail.

    2. Ew, yuck! I use Akismet and I think it rocks the house. (Oh dang it!! There's another earworm!) Of course, I don't know if it's available for Blogspot since I moved to Wordpress... [counts with fingers and toes, loses track, gives up]... well, a bunch of years back.

      I'll just keep refreshing until there are two images that are legible. It could be a game! Or an item in the Guinness Book of World Records.

      This first one? I kid you not, one image looks like dinosaur fossils... or maybe the science experiment in the fridge.

  2. For the purely selfish reason that I love this blog, I'm very glad you hit the milestone :-)

  3. This is an old post but you have my support, and I donate $15 to Writing About Writing each month because I relate so hard it hurts.