“Times of great failure or times of great success, the problem is the same (how do you keep going?) and the solution is the same: You write the next thing.”
Neil Gaiman

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Defining "Part Time Self-Employment." Also, Happy New Year.
Fri 2010-01-08 11:40:18 (in context)

The original mission statement with this blog was, "I will blog every day, and only after I've written that day." And of course I began to fail at that standard pretty much the moment I put it into place. But it's never too late to get back on board with a good idea. It's my reusable New Year's Resolution: This year I'll write more, with more self-discipline and better time-management! This will be the year I Act Like A Writer!

The problem with New Year's Resolutions, though, is the high expectations involved. It isn't enough to say, "Tomorrow I'll write more than I did today." Oh no. We have to put it in terms of a whole year. So the moment we drop down out of the stratospheric levels of Perfect, well, that's the year down the tubes. It doesn't help that we ante up an amount of self-esteem proportional to the impossibility of the perfection we seek.

Some people, recognizing this, turn the idea of New Year's Resolutions into a joke. They set deliberately impossible goals, or deliberately trivial ones, and they laugh about them. Laughing is good for you. Jokes are healthy. But I don't want to turn the idea of self-improvement itself into a joke. I seriously want to take all that magical, psychological power bound up in our communal awe for the event of the annual odometer ticking over, and push it into my personal engines. Vroom!

So. A do-able New Year's Resolution with a reasonable attitude toward success and failure.

Here's another tank of gas for that: John and I just purchased health insurance. He got a new job, and, since it's an hourly contract position, he didn't get a new company-paid health insurance policy with it. Well, they offered him one, but the options offered cost about the same but provided less coverage than what we were contemplating purchasing on our own. (His new employers did, however, offer him a dental policy worth the premium. I will never understand this system.)

What does health insurance have to do with my writing goals for the year? Well, it has to do with how we signed up. Since we had the option, we made me the primary insured. I'm the one with more time on my hands, after all, or, if not, if I actually am spending all the time writing I should and the rest of my work week being a housewife, at least I'm the one with a more flexible work schedule. I can bike down to the State Farm office on Mapleton just about any day, weather permitting, and sign stuff. Or make phone calls. Or whatever. Not that it this hasn't been the case since I quit my day job in April 2004, but I since I haven't been the insured employee, I haven't typically been authorized to handle the bureaucratic details. Insurance companies want the signature of the guy in the number one slot. They don't want to talk to the dependent or beneficiary.

(Speaking of companies that won't talk to the beneficiary, let us another day discuss companies who, when receiving an application from a married couple with a hyphenated last name, "helpfully" "correct" the husband's last name by removing the hyphened-on half, and then require the husband to call them and then fill out a change-of-name form rather than just saying "Sorry, we goofed" when the wife calls to point out the error. Shall we? It would be a blast.)

When you're the primary insured on the application, the application wants to know all about you. Including your employment status. I always fill out "Self-employed" not just because that's what writers are, even if they aren't making a lot of sales, but because it's an act of magic. Or psychology, take your pick. I am not unemployed and dabbling at a hobby. My writing is my job. I mean to treat it like a job, and I expect others to respect that it is my job, and I'm not going to wait until I've sold a novel to say so. "Self-employed." Emphatically.

And then when they ask "Part time or full?" a little sliver of conscience grimaces and admits I don't spend 40 hours a week on my writing like I think I should. "Part-time." Sheepishly.

Entering "self-employed" and "part-time" caused a new section of form to unfold on the web page (yay, Javascript!), "Determination of Self-Employed Business Group of One," asking me to check yes to four more questions. Among them: have I been doing it for at least a year? Do I have taxable gross income from my self-employment from which I have derived a substantial part of my income, defined as sufficient to pay the annual insurance premium, at least one year in three? And do I work a minimum of 24 hours a week?

This is Magic 101. Mundane action, or "sweat," is a necessary component of any spell. It's very important to say "Writing is my job! I am self-employed!" It is also very important to then write like it's my job. The Goddess is very prompt at reminding me of this, and very versatile in how She delivers the message. This day, She was sending the message via Assurant Health and Time Insurance Company.

Well. I wasn't exactly going to sit there with a calculator and go, "I think last week I only worked 15 hours, and the last time I had gross income sufficient to pay this policy was three years ago." I said yes, and yes, and yes, and yes, and I signed on the dotted line.

And that's where the New Year's Resolution juice comes from. There's nothing quite like being unsure whether I've told the truth to inspire me to make it the truth.

So. My resolution, in precise: Write 5 hours each day, 5 days a week. This should consist of at least two articles for Demand Studios, any assigned blogging, and constant work on completing and submitting fiction submissions.

And blogging here when I'm done.

...And also flossing my teeth every morning, and achieving World Peace by December. [laugh track] No, no, but seriously, folks...

Happy Two Thousand And Ten!