What it Takes to be Indie

Kickstarters are always stressful. Even though I was pretty sure I’d never do one again, I decided I’d have to try, at least to help keep some of the readers and fans appeased that I was attempting to get these books to shelf a little faster.

I always ALWAYS appreciate when folks come up to me to ask about the next books. I really do. But as much as I am grateful for the support for my work, it can be very frustrating when there’s such a disconnect with people about what it actually takes, financially and emotionally to create a novel. (or several)

It can be very exhausting, and trying when I’m face-to-face with an impatient person who just doesn’t understand the financial/emotional struggle to produce.

The majority of writers who are able to go indie are financially supported by a spouse or partner. There are some, like myself that are not, but the majority are in financial/emotional partnerships. While this isn’t an excuse, I have to remind readers that I have to pay my own bills, healthcare, mortgage, etc. AND find the time to write. AND find the funds to produce.

To be fair, I honestly think it’s easier as a single person to find writing time (having been married once, I know the comparison). However, there are drawbacks to the single income, and isolation of the life when it relates to living artfully or as an indie. It just takes longer for someone in my situation to get products to market. That’s all.

That said, I’m thoroughly happy with my life and speed of production. I’m content with my freedoms and creative wanderings. This kickstarter is only to give the readers who want the next books a chance to get them sooner, and at a good production quality.

Here’s a kickstarter update on the cost of production and why it costs so much to put two novels on the market.

When I quit my job in R&D to become a fulltime creative, I knew the crux would be this: either I have the time to write but not the funds to publish, or I have a job and the funds to publish, but not the time to write. The lifelong artist’s struggle.

Anywhoo, I’d been thinking about the cycle for a few years. My corporate gigs were lemons. The Portland, Oregon housing market was climbing into ridiculous territory and the cost of living in the city was becoming stupidly cost prohibitive for my work experience brackets. I was fast approaching the place where even a studio apartment and healthcare would mean I’d have to work a 60 hour week just to get by. (Pretty sure I’m preaching to the choir). That left precious little time and energy for publishing and writing. Then I had to ask myself, why keep writing if I can’t afford to write, AND can’t afford to publish. Why do it at all? Why not just give it up altogether?

Then my life took a couple of epic tumbles and I found myself single, and unemployed, again, and looking at a total overhaul. Some rethinking was required. So, I plotted, planned, and then took some sideways, and diagonal leaps of faith.

August 2015 Goal: be a profitable and self-sustainable artist in five years. (August 2020)

September 2016 Goal: create an off-grid, self-sustainable home by my 40th birthday (Aug. 2018)

Overall Plan:

  • Lower my cost of living (done) (Still more to do)
  • Plan for the long-game (12 novels) (in progress)
  • Set up home and property to support a low cost of living to thereby support the long game
    1. Off grid (still need alternative power solution)
      1. Need wood burning stove installed for winter heat (Needed)
      2. No internet (done)
  • No cell service (done)
  1. Small production farming and trade options
    1. Farming trout (tanks ready for installation)
    2. Honey (bees ordered)
  • Mushrooms (plugs ready)
  1. Eggs (done)
  2. Gardening (in progress)
  3. Liquors (done)
  • Books (in progress)
  • Book products (crafts in progress)
  • Declutter emotional toxins and psychological drains
    1. Social media (done)
    2. Toxic relationships (done)
    3. Toxic work situations (done)
    4. Toxic news sources (done)
  • Build new writing and creativity plan (done)
    1. Track hours for creativity and production for one year (done 3,000 hours total)
      1. 2,457 hours writing, editing, developing
      2. 312 hours craft, and art creation
  • 146 hours Patreon reward content creation
  1. 38 hours of classes and workshops taught (another 27 hours in prep)
  2. 48 hours of markets, and events
  • Part time work as needed (ongoing)
    1. Service work with tips, and flexible hours
      1. 400 hours
  • Teach classes and workshops (done) (Ongoing)
  • Build and support healthy relationships (in progress)
  • Find peace, sit by the water, or walk in the woods (ongoing)

 

Obviously, the list can go on and on, but the gist was this: re-arrange my life to be able to commit myself to writing un-interrupted and supporting my creative potential as though it was, is, and will be worth it to do so.

Worth it. Goddamn, that’s a hard concept to wrap my brain around. Especially when the power’s out and I don’t have heat in the winter. Worth it? Really?

Such is the risk of living so far out in the woods, so far off the grid. When the power’s down, there’s no real backup. The generator only has so much fuel and it’s an hour to town in the snow (and sometimes around landslides and downed trees, no joke).

Worth it, or not worth it. What does worth it even mean?

When people ask me why I’m wasting my time as a part time waitress when I have a resume for regulatory work in molecular genetics, or R&D, or government finance… I say, “I moved out to the middle of nowhere to do what I love…if I’m not doing that, what the hell am I doing with my life?”

I answer the same way when people ask me why I’m not on Facebook more, or why I don’t come into town to at least download news and current events. “I made a decision to put writing and living first…if I’m not doing that, what the hell am I doing way out here? I might as well just go back to the city.”

It’s a choice. A conscious choice to keep making these books however I can and with whatever resources I have at my disposal.

It was both the easiest choice I’ve ever made, and the most difficult follow-through I’ve ever done.

But the quality of my writing has completely changed since I’ve been solo on the wilderness path. Completely different. Hopefully, in a good way. I’m more productive, energized, peaceful, and collected – and my writing is, too.

There are struggles I didn’t anticipate. Issues I didn’t think I’d have to face. When the power’s out, the well pump is out. And it also gets damn cold up here in the mountains. There are coyotes, bears, and cougars. There are a multitude of elements that pose dangers in ways I never imagined…and I’m from Alaska so that’s saying a lot.

And then there’s the isolation.

Still, I consider some challenges to be reminders of why I chose such an extreme lifestyle. When the quote for the wood burning stove installation came in at $4,800, I stared at my manuscripts and thought, it will cost me the exact same amount of money to have both books edited as it does to have reliable heat installed for next winter…. But if I’m not doing what I love—if I’m not making these books, what the hell am I sacrificing myself out here for?

Then again, I can’t type if my fingers are cold… so the answer to the question of stove or editor, is obviously the stove. I’ll just have to skip the editor, and cross my fingers that it doesn’t impact my publication quality too much, because I’d rather be writing, than worrying about heat or worldwide eligibility based on a few typos.

No need to play the violins. My basic needs are always met. I have food, shelter, water, and usually I have heat. MORE IMPORTUNATELY, I have a battery for my laptop. So I’m well, and will always be well.

In the meantime, I’m getting it together, slowly but surely. I’ve got five months to my property self-sustainability goal, and two more years on my artistry self-sustainability goal. It’s a work in progress.

In the meantime, I’m kickstarting for production funds to fast-track two novels through production, and I’m picking up extra waitressing shifts to pay for the production costs of my other series, The Life Erotic, which will have a new release in May 2018. (under the pen name, B. Unbidden)

It’s been a productive year as a full-time artist. I’m looking forward to another year, and a couple more books on the shelf.

That’s what will make all this– totally worth it.

Author: Athena

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