“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
Good morning, folks!
I hope my American friends enjoyed their barbecue, their fireworks, and heat exhaustion on July 4th. I watched fireworks from the air-conditioned comfort of my apartment through the sliding glass door. Yeah, I’m all about letting freedom ring, but I’m also not about that triple-digit heat and unbearable humidity.
Last week I talked a little about a slightly new direction for the blog, and afterwards I felt an excitement I hadn’t felt in a long time about blogging, which made me realize it was totally the right decision.
I thought I’d start off this new direction talking about what it was like to quit my job, what it’s been like since, and how I am hoping to make this sustainable. Ready? Good.
Quitting the 9-5
Okay, so I’ve debated for a long time whether to discuss the particulars of what my job was. But, seeing as how that would make it all too easy to find out personal information about me I’d rather not have out in the great wide anywhere, I’m not going to give away any specifics. My former employer has proven they’re very slow to remove certain pieces of information from their websites.
I will say this: I made next to nothing.
I want to make this pretty clear because I don’t want anyone out there thinking I am advocating suddenly quitting their job to pursue writing.
My husband makes almost 5x what I made. I made next to nothing.
Which was okay for a while, because I started out genuinely loving my job. But as time went on, I had way too much stress for the piddly salary I had. I could not wrap my head around the fact I was responsible for…let’s just say a lot of money, multiple locations, and a staff of 10 people, and if I were single, I would have needed to live in my car (which would have probably been falling apart) and bounce around from Walmart parking lot to Walmart parking lot.
Still, though, I had invested a lot of time (five years) and energy into my job. But, having pissed off the wrong people for the right reasons, I also knew I would likely not see any further promotions. Staying would have altogether broken my spirit. I know that.
Couple all of that with the fact I wanted to be available to help out with my dad more often, and I had a fairly miserable existence at work with far too little financial compensation to justify it anymore.
So, in a way, I quit not because I could afford to, but because I couldn’t afford not to.
And my husband, in the weeks leading up to my turning in my notice, became increasingly insistent I needed to make this change. He has been my biggest supporter and champion.
What was it like, though?
It was the single-most conflicting thing I’ve ever done. I lost a ton of sleep. Pretty sure my stomach ulcers were on the brink of returning. The day I handed in my notice, my boss almost fainted. She tried multiple times to get me to change my mind. I literally wept as I told my staff. Several of them cried…one or two may have quietly celebrated. I stayed long enough to acclimate my replacement because I still wanted the best for my staff and I didn’t want to hand it off to someone who would just lay waste to everything I had built.
My staff gave me a small party on my last day, a few of the friendlier people from above me came by my office and gave me hugs and reminisced with me and one even brought me a gargantuan plant that has already died. (I live in a downstairs apartment with very little sunlight.)
As I drove home that day, I fully expected to break down in sobs. But I didn’t. I turned up my music and belted some tunes. And I’ve felt so much better ever since.
Sustaining This Full-Time Writing Gig
So, I cannot state enough that I made very little money at my previous job. That, in itself, helps sustain this thing because we didn’t take a huge reduction in household income when I quit, which means we weren’t relying all that heavily on my income anyway.
Before I turned in my notice, I went through our bank transactions and discovered we consistently spent one of my entire paychecks each month, plus $200, on going out to eat.
That’s slightly embarrassing to admit, especially if you’ll recall: I am an actual chef.
This is a relatively easy way for us to save money.
I get up every morning and make my husband’s lunch—well, I make his lunch Monday-Thursday. He goes out to eat on Fridays. His lunches have become somewhat famous around his office (I mean, they’re not typical lunches) and one of his coworkers (an older guy with no significant other) and best friends has actually been quite fascinated with hubby’s lunches and asked if I could make his as well if he paid me. So, I guess I’m catering lunches now.
Side note: For those interested, today for example, his lunch consists of: A wrap with turkey, ham, bacon, gouda, and spinach…garlic-stuffed olives…almonds, cheese cubes, and sliced pepperoni…broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots with ranch dip…two bottles of water…and a can of black cherry seltzer water. And I manage to keep all of that to about $3.00-$3.50.
So between saving money on his lunches every day (between $10-12/day) and now I cook so much more at home than I did while I was working…that’s almost half of what I made each month being saved just by my preparing food here. (Not to mention the gas we’re saving by him not leaving the office every day, me not going to work every day, etc. etc.)
We’re also about to pay off my car, which will make up most of the other half of what I was making.
But it isn’t just about trimming costs. I also want to make money too. My current revenue streams that at least trickle in small amounts of money or have potential to help out:
- My fiction—I still get random payments from Amazon and IngramSpark despite my lack of advertising right now. It is nice when they come in.
- Redbubble—When I add new products to my store, I generally see some sales here, so I endeavor to add a product or two per month.
- Affiliate Links—For some reason these scare off some people, but it honestly doesn’t cost the customer anything extra. Several of you have tried out ProWritingAid using my affiliate link last year and I got a really nice deposit from them. A few of you also gave SkillShare a chance using my link as well. Thank you. I will say being an Amazon affiliate didn’t work out for me the first time, but I think I’ll be applying again soon. And I’ll also add a page to my website of products or services I recommend. I do promise I will never suggest a product I don’t wholeheartedly endorse just for the sake of an affiliate link. My integrity is worth far more than the few dollars from an affiliate sale.
- I have a Ko-Fi account where people can “buy me a coffee” me if they enjoy my content. I do not advertise this enough, nor has it ever gotten a single tip.
I also tried video transcription. But, it’s a pain in the tuckus and the pay is ridiculously low considering how long it takes to accurately transcribe a video. I did a few of these and, well, I’d far prefer to spend my time working on Harlot.
That said, I am always looking for a few paid gigs of some sort here and there or suggestions on how to monetize things without taking advantage of anyone…if you have any ideas, leave them in the comments below.
What If It Doesn’t Work Out?
This is the question that keeps me up at night, even though the answer is pretty simple:
If it doesn’t work out, I go back to work.
Even though I spent a lot of time weighing the pros and cons of my decision to quit and know beyond a shadow of a doubt my husband and I did not make this decision in haste…it still nags at me that I’m not employed. It is, after all, the first time in a very long time that I find myself without a time card to punch. (And the last time I was unemployed for a while, I was attending college, so…)
It’s not that we shouldn’t be able to afford it. I think I’ve mentioned ad nauseum that I didn’t make much money. But I am a creature of habit. I need consistency. I need a schedule…it’s stupid easy to abandon those when you don’t have bosses and strict deadlines—at least it’s been my experience that deadlines I set for myself don’t hold the same sense of urgency as someone who has set them with the ability to fire me.
I can absolutely see myself missing the camaraderie of the workplace so much I want to go back to work at least part time. I mean, my dogs are great…but the conversations are a bit one-sided.
For now, though, it works. And I want to keep it that way.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. But, let me end this with a word of caution. I am well aware the luster of quitting one’s job. It’s something many indie authors aspire to. It’s one of the standard measures of success for many of us. Please know that I was in a unique position to quit my job and in no way am I hoping to inspire you to prematurely quit yours. If it is something you aspire to, I do believe there are steps you can take to ready yourself for that. I mulled over this decision for months before I turned in my notice. Do some soul searching, definitely do some number crunching and do not make any rash decisions which might hurt you financially. Even though it turned out my paycheck was not crucial to our survival, losing it has required we make a few lifestyle changes. These are not easy and it takes a lot of commitment on multiple fronts.
Anyway, that’s it for this week, loves. Come back next week, as I will be sharing what sort of schedule I’ve set for myself and how I’m keeping busy.
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