It’s an odd thing, getting choked up over a paycheck.
But it makes sense. You can guess what my biggest fear is with this whole grand experiment: That I’ll fail. That I’ll have to throw up my hands and go back to an office job, unable to make enough money from writing to sustain myself.
As of September 21st, I’ll have been a full time writer for 5 months, with 3 of those spent activated and in uniform. That can be a drag on the “full time” aspect of my writing, but I won’t always be called up this often and anyway, I love the work. As I sit here looking at my paycheck (and the deductions for health insurance, which is critical to my being able to support myself as a writer) it’s a little emotional for me.
This is because it comes with the dawning realization that I really might be able to do this. Between the short stints on active duty as a reservist and the slugs of money that come from advance payouts and subsidiary rights sales, I might really and truly never have to go back to the office. I might actually be able to spend the rest of my days *only* doing what I love. I never thought that was possible, but this paycheck is making me think it just might be.
My military pay is a matter of public record. On the writing side of things, the SHADOW OPS series has sold Czech language and audio book rights. Writing advances pay out based on milestones. I’ll get a slug of money when CONTROL POINT sees print. I’ll get another slug of money when FORTRESS FRONTIER is delivered and accepted by Ace. I’ve got an original fiction proposal in the hopper, and am currently negotiating some possible media tie-in work. All of those things mean money.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: at a panel at the 2010 New York City Comic Con, Brandon Sanderson said that he stays motivated to write by imagining a cubicle chasing him. That’s what awaits him if he fails, a boring office job. That image struck home and it sticks with me. Granted, Sanderson is a titan in the field. It would be nice to reach his giddying heights of success and I’ll strive to do that, but I’m not counting on it.
But with the reserves, I don’t need to. This paycheck is a brandished sword, holding that slavering cubicle at bay. I *love* the Coast Guard. I *love* writing speculative fiction.
And I am beginning to believe that I might never have to do anything else.