Resolute, 2015

2014 could have been worse, but wasn’t a good year for me. There were, however, some bright spots.

While I failed in last year’s resolve to publish a piece a month, or to finish any novels, or to tie some writing into the season or holiday in which it was being released, I did at least get something written and published — Spring That Never Came is close to being a short novel (and I got complaints from a few friends that it should have been longer, which is a good complaint to have), and I pounded it out in a white hot frenzy in about a month, ran it through beta readers and fine-tuned the writing and logic in another two weeks, threw together a cover that I, at least, loved, and had published it to great indifference.

But that’s okay, because I like it and know why I had to write it. Plus, while it only got one (pretty darn good) review, the free Creative Commons download numbers were heartening, even if actual sales numbers weren’t life-sustaining.

Lesson learned? Write fast, publish fast, and stop avoiding the marketing side of things.

Also, even though I suffer from chronic fear that my writing sucks, I keep liking what I’ve written once I actually do it.

Most of the other things on the list I didn’t even come close to doing, so in some form they carry over to this year, with additions and modifications.

  • I will finish and publish one piece a month.

  • I will bloody well promote what I publish, and not just by whining “buy my book” on Twitter.

  • However unstable my employment situation is (and it is extremely unstable, thank you idiot governments that think you can tax your way to prosperity), I will put aside as much money as possible for The Dream (see below).

  • I will put all savings into Bitcoin, BlackCoin, or silver (not certificates, actual bullion). Yes, I think the dollar is going to collapse. I don’t know when, it might not happen for another few years, but I can foresee no means of escaping it, only of delaying it a little more. Presently I need currency more than anything, but I also need to get saving.

  • Since I am getting a freelance gig with a Bitcoin news and analysis site, I will do everything I can to make that site successful. (Can’t say which site it is till things are a little closer to relaunch.) If things work the way I’m hoping, this gig will be mainly for putting aside savings. We’ll have to see if that’s a reasonable thing or not.

  • I will explore a few other paths to publication, separate from Amazon. Yes, I’ll probably put most of my work up on Amazon, because that’s where the paying customers are right now. But I also want to put a novel on Unglue.It, and some of my work on BitcoinBooks.

  • I need to decide if I’m ever going to use Kindle Desktop Publishing Select again, as an author. It didn’t do a lot for Spring That Never Came except for the first free giveaway, but that giveaway translated into no reviews, no ratings, and few if any further sales. And I’d have to look at the numbers, but I think only three or four Prime members “borrowed” it, total, during the six months it was available that way. Granting that my marketing skills suck, that’s still not every impressive.

  • Though I made a half-hearted attempt to crowdfund my NaNoWriMo, I never promoted that attempt at all. Part of this is psychological, hangover from my childhood, expecting people to hate me when I ask for any value at all, and I need to get the hell over that. Another, much smaller, part is that BitcoinStarter seemed to go down or be unresponsive every time I got up the courage to try promoting it. Yes, that was disheartening, but it was also a convenient excuse not to bother people with my press release or any other promotion at all.

  • When my circumstances are even a little bit more stable, in addition to my daily writing time, I will devote several hours a week to getting The Tutoring Method up and running in a regular fashion. Preferably on its own website instead of a site.

  • I will continue seeking out unloved public domain books, and working to convert them to epubs. And I’ll even start making them available, which I keep meaning to do, but never actually doing. (Bringing one to professional completion would be a good start, of course.)

So, what is The Dream?

I’m chronically poor, an introvert, and simply don’t play well with others most of the time. And I’ve been just terrible, up to this point in my life, working out a way to make a living while not going against my nature and character.

But this year I discovered the Tiny House movement, and a few other things clicked into place as well, mentally. Yes, a large chunk of the movement is made up of hipsters being holier than thou about their environmentalism, which is in no way who I am. But. It’s still not a bad idea, for me, viewed from a different perspective.

The Dream, while fluid, details subject to change without notice from day to day, is essentially as follows.

  • Make a lot of money (for me, that is). Fifty thousand dollars or so seems to be the minimum for what I want, though if I’m artful and tricksy, I can probably do it for forty-ish. More would be better.

  • Buy a truck. (Used.) If I go with a tiny house on wheels (debatable right now), I’ll need at least a three-quarter ton truck to tow it. In any case, living out in the sticks, being able to haul almost anything will be a real boon. Speaking of location…

  • Buy as many acres of desert land in Arizona as I possibly can. I prefer it to be near the California border for personal reasons, but I’ve settled on Arizona being my future home.

  • Buy or build a tiny house, preferably of at least 200 square feet, preferably with a loft (or, if it’s not mobile, a second floor).

  • Buy or build all the tools needed to live off-grid. Solar panels, batteries, inverter, graywater collection and treatment system, rainwater collection system, sink a well, and lots of other little things that don’t need to be done immediately.

At this point, The Dream is realized, if incomplete. I’ll be able to live for a minimal level of expenses (food, propane, fuel and maintenance for the truck, land taxes, and internet and cell phone service), and outside of that I won’t owe anybody anything.

If I get to that point, I can just hunker down and write for a year. (And read, of course.)

But, of course, The Dream goes further than that.

After I get settled and make enough more money, I want to build a stealth tiny home for traveling, which I can then use to traverse the great 48, visit friends I’ve never met, and possibly attend SF conventions and do other personal-appearance marketing type things. (I don’t ever want to go through an airport again, least of all in the US, and I hate dealing with hotels and motels in general, so when I saw this “take your room with you” solution, I thought it was genius.)

I also want to build several structures on my property. All relatively small. One can serve as a writing office, then a larger (but still not huge) house, then some other tiny houses, to serve as guest houses for friends, especially if the economic collapse happens as I expect. Instead of being someone looking for refuge, I’d like to provide it.

There are other details, like storing slightly-out-of-date hardware in a large farraday cage, having a greenhouse and open air garden, setting up a still, lots of other details that would make the high desert my own little Galt’s Gulch, a totally independent concern.

But that’s about the size of it for now.