Monday, 20 August 2012

To part-time or not to part-time

I've always been an author who's been glad to have a day job - it does keep me sane and connected and from turning into a self-absorbed hermit. I also like to be able to afford to buy things I want (mostly books, but a lot of them and quite a few expensive ones). I like being able to pay my mortgage. I don't want to freak out over an unexpected bill.

On the other hand, my day job is draining, often boring, and extremely repetitive. It often feels like I'm editing the same document twenty times. Every single day, five days a week, four weeks a month, twelve month a year, for the rest of my working life (=30 years). There are days when I get home and all creativity and joy has been scourged out of my soul. I'm not pulling the "speshul snowflake" card, but being a writer, running a publisher and working full time is a wear and tear that I'm starting to feel. So I've been doing numbers. I don't think I'll ever quit my day job (for pension and mental health reasons), but I'm starting to think I might be able to wrestle at least my Fridays from the corporate clutch. The end goal would be to go part-time on a 2.5-day basis, which should neatly cut my week into three roughly equal chunks of Day Job, Writing, which I think would be ideal (and mean I won't collapse in my mid-fifties of stress and burnout). The alternative would be to find a better working environment in a different company that pays more; however, I'm not sure banks will ever re-hire in my field. Or at least not in the foreseeable future (ie, less than 3 years).

The problem I'm foreseeing is that, while my income from writing is growing, it's patchy. Yesterday's big seller might not sell anything next month. I don't write many contemporaries. I don't write the stuff that sells very much (which I'm acknowledging without envy or resentment - after all, I could probably learn how to do that if I *really* wanted to and were desperate for the cash). It would also mean I'd have to be more productive. I couldn't afford not to publish for 3-4 months. I'd have to have something new out every two months. Basically, writing would become work. I might even have to kill or postpone books that won't sell very much (=everything but contemporaries). I couldn't, in good conscience, write a novel that won't sell. My worst fear is that I'll be losing my freedom to write whatever strikes my fancy on that day, that I don't have enough readers to support that decision in good conscience.

I could possibly talk to HR about how easy/difficult it would be to go back onto 5 days if it all fails. Personally, I think I'd be saner and happier on a four-day week, and productive enough to make the financial sacrifice worth it. Although it's still 20% of my "real" income, and calculating those numbers makes me slightly ill, London not being a cheap place to be. And then I tell myself I can keep this pace going for another 2-5 years and then go part-time. It's a goal. At least it's always good to have a goal, regardless of how far away that looks at the moment.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Incursion's technology: It's real

I like to take credit when I deserve it, but I diod not make up some of the technology in Incursion. Kyle's prosthetics, "cheap" in his world and time (and pretty low tech by his standards) already exist, though they are buy no means cheap or common or even something for the mass market. also, obviously, his are slightly more advanced, as they don't need crutches.

So, have a read of this Guardian article and click the links. It's interesting stuff.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The unexpected novella

I've recently had the urge to write about Nikolai Krasnorada, Vadim's son. If you don't know who I'm talking about, you're not a Special Forces reader, but I hope the story will make sense to you anyway.

For those who do know what I'm talking about, rejoice, there's more Vadim coming your way. Despite the Noble Romance drama (no word yet from the new CEO of the company), I've been patiently tapping away, adding more words to words, and generally been chiselling away (though productivity was low and some weeks, absolutely nothing happened). I sometimes feel like a penguin who scoures the icy wasteland for stones to build a nest.

Well, this one's nearly done. The working title is kind of silly, but I'm calling the story Gold Digger (which is really a joke wrapped in a pun that may not work for anybody but me). Nikolai's probably the sanest of the Krasnoradas, and he gets to hang out with his father, sort out his family/father/commitment issues, and I'm hoping to leave him with a solid, hopeful Happy For Now/Happily Ever After ending. It's a gentle contemporary romance around the theme of family (and how our blood relations mess us up and how they can heal us), and some is unabashed fan service.

I was expecting this to hit around 15-20k when I started it, but obviously I was wrong again. It won't be a novel, but a chunky novella.

After that, I'm digging right back into WWII. I have two really good novels set in the period and I can't wait to get backwards in history after doing two contemporaries. I expect to spend the autumn/winter doing those two and a historical urban fantasy book I'm wrestling with (doing some outlining and brainstorming there).