Editorial Assistance

When Money Becomes the Elephant in the Room

Money is a touchy topic. For some, it's even more touchy than sex, and I hate it. I hate that it almost feels like a person's worth, specifically my worth, is measured by how much money I have or appear to have. Up until the age of nineteen, I didn't associate success or making my dreams come true with money. If I was working hard, getting things done, and making my dreams come true, I felt some semblance of success. But now that I'm twenty, in debt, and struggling to hold on to money, I can't do the things I used to do that had nothing to do with money without feeling like I'm taking one step backward.

So let's talk money and writing/editing. I need to, or else it'll keep making me sick. The elephant is too huge, the room too small.

If I got fired from my part-time job tomorrow, I'd be able to make a living off of editing, reviewing, coaching and writing. After all, I only make $7.75 an hour and I never work more than 25 hours. I make between $100-150 a week. It certainly helps, but it's not a lot where if I lost it I'd really suffer.

At first becoming a full-time freelancer would be a struggle, and I know some months would be rough, but all I currently need to get by is $250/month. I no longer have a car, nor can I afford another one. I'm in $18,000 of debt because of that car crash. I'm a college student paying with loans and I still live with my parents. Though I'll only be going to college spring semesters, it's still expensive. Which, while all very irritating, means I can get by on very little.

As assuring as all of that is, that knowledge is also a double-edged sword. Somehow, it made me forget that I edit, write, and read out of a passion for editing, writing, and reading. When I'm doing stuff and making little to no money, I get anxious and stressed. It's like, somewhere along the line, I forgot that - while I CAN make a living off of it and would like to go full-time one day - it's certainly not some glamorous choice where I'll make enough money to feel as well-off as all of my well-off friends. The people I hang out with, while not rich, have considerably more money than me. Then I feel like I must be doing something wrong.

Basically, I need to know where to draw the line. I ramble a lot, I know, but just bear with me.

Should I go full-time as a freelancer and put all my energy into succeeding as a freelancer, even though I know that will financially stress me out? Or should I handle my freelance jobs the way Stephen King handled his writing before Carrie sold for $400,000 and made it so that King no longer had to work as a teacher anymore?

I've been reading On Writing by Stephen King, and the first part of the book shows how he worked full-time and had a variety of part-time jobs, yet he still worked on his writing and sent out short stories consistently. Though his major source of income came from those other jobs, he still took his writing very seriously. Any amount of money that came in from his efforts and consistency were more like a bonus payment than anything else. And, while the extra money was definitely wonderful, he didn't keep submitting to magazines and writing for money. He did it because he couldn't NOT do it. That's what matters, and that's why I'm considering going back to that style.

Maybe it's best I go back to keeping my freelance life and 'average' life separate. I ask myself, "If I had no freelancing interest or skill, how would I get by? What would I focus on?" I know the answer to that question: I'd be focused on working at least 25-30 hours a week and getting a degree in something business-related.

So maybe I SHOULD be focused on that and, like Stephen King did, maybe I should treat the money I make from freelancing as bonuses and go back to working on writing, editing, and reviewing because it is my dream - not to prove something, not to make as much money as my friends. If I happen to hit it big somehow, enough so where I can quit working at day time jobs, then I'll stop working at day time jobs. But until then? I should just stop worrying myself about money.

Unfortunately, that does mean that I can't get as much freelance work done. I have a lot of projects, a lot of skills I'd like to take to the next level. I'm an editorial assistant for Month9Books, and I may become a paid reviewer for Fantascize (if not, I can still be a paid reviewer for Self-Publishing Review or Kirkus). My services as a freelance editor are still open, and I'm definitely working on nonfiction and fiction books. There are lots of things I want to do, and if I work 25 hours a week and spend 10-20 hours a week focusing on school...well, I'm not super human. Things will get done, but certainly not a fast rate.

That's why I've decided to only go to college one semester every year. The semester and summer I'm off means those 10-20 hours I would spend stressing out about college won't happen two semesters in a row. I can dedicate that hour to stressing out about my wonderful freelance career instead. ^_^

I've spent far too many nights mentally destroying myself over the amount of money I make freelancing. It's time to stop. It's time I stop letting the elephant distract me from my dreams. If I want to make money, that's what day time jobs are for. That's where I'll think about money.

I don't edit, review, or write solely for the money. Sure, I need to make some money from it, but it's not my aim to get rich off of it. I'm just glad I've finally remembered that.

Now it's time to work on a style guide for Month9books. I was at the day job a couple hours ago. This week, I'll only make $100, and that money will be spent right away on food and bills. I'm making absolutely no money on my freelance ventures right now. And you know what?

That's okay.

3 Responses
  1. I really really love this post, Tiffany! I've felt similar things about my writing career and how much I'm making. I'm making money, but not what I'd LIKE to make. The thing is, if I wasn't writing, I'd just be at home not making anything since I'm a stay-at-home mom right now and need to be here for my daughter. Fortunately, I have a husband who works very hard to support us. I just want to help out as much as I can by bringing in extra income. What I bring in is like bonus checks, so it's nice. I've had a hard time this winter, getting into the rut and thinking that I HAVE to make more and more money at this or it isn't worth my time. That's just silly, though. The whole reason I started doing this was because it was fun, not to make money.

    Money really is a huge elephant, but I think the more we minimize it, the more we're working to our own advantage and allowing our creativity to do more since we're not stressing so much.

    I loved this line of yours: "Maybe I should treat the money I make from freelancing as bonuses and go back to working on writing, editing, and reviewing because it is my dream - not to prove something, not to make as much money as my friends."

    So, so true. I get into the habit SO OFTEN of comparing my success to other successes, and it's unfair to everyone to do so. Probably most of us won't ever "make it big", but it's usually the people who do make it big that weren't even looking for that, necessarily. They were just doing what made them happy. Money can make us happy to an extent (it's good to admit that), but it can never ever be the ultimate source.

  2. Oh, and I did want to add that we live paycheck to paycheck, and a huge goal of mine is to get out of that and pay off all our debt that keeps dragging us down. I can't, however, put all of that on my shoulders and the shoulders of my books.

  3. Tiffany Says:

    Thank you! I'm really glad you liked it. It was a heartfelt one, definitely since I stopped blogging for a long time. I know that I'll be a stay-at-home mom as well when I start having children.

    Unfortunately, it's incredibly hard to forget that money can never be the ultimate source of happiness, especially when living paycheck to paycheck. I live paycheck to paycheck too. Each paycheck is automatically promised away. Whenever I have money left over, I feel like something must be wrong. I can't even comprehend left over money any more. That's pretty bad, lol.