Each Blow Pushes Me Closer

I’ve never been a one-trick pony. I’ve never had just one love, to the exclusion of all others.

So it isn’t surprising that I’ve spent the past ten years (or more) spinning plates…

  • Plate 1 – cleaning houses
  • Plate 2 – home and family
  • Plate 3 – arts and crafts
  • Plate 4 – reading and learning…voracious and unending
  • Plate 5 – writing
  • Plate 6 – teaching
  • Plate 7 – gardening

I’m sure there are more.

But when it comes to pulling my weight, and earning money, I’ve also done whatever I could. Especially in the past ten years where, with the small exception of a part-time job in a woman’s home office, I have not stepped foot into the corporate/”working” world.

I haven’t missed it…the bickering, the manipulation, the high school days revisited in dozens of unhappy desk jockeys who hate their lives.

Now I’m not saying that everyone hates their jobs or lives…just all of the ones I encountered!

I tried building the cleaning business…and was met with monumental ups and downs. So much so that, when I would acquire a new cleaning client I would mentally review all of the clients I currently had and try to figure out who would be next to lose a job, move, retire, or otherwise upset the apple cart of income I was receiving. With every ‘up’ in income, I would see a corresponding ‘down.’

And let’s face it, cleaning toilets is no one’s dream job. I derived a sense of satisfaction from it – making something clean out of a dusty mess – and I wasn’t having to punch a time clock or deal with women who acted as if they were still in high school cliques, but it wasn’t my lifelong dream and desire.

So in 2007 I began teaching classes. This grew, and grew, and GREW.

Except when it didn’t.

Last year it was last minute RFID implementation in one of my main host sites. They canceled classes willy nilly, not rescheduling, just canceling. This would happen a few weeks or a month before the class – far too late to fill with anything else that could make me money.

This past January, when I received a request for 34 classes, I was over the moon. It meant doubling my average monthly income from last year. Something I desperately needed because I had finally given up on my cleaning biz. I have three dedicated clients, and for as long as they need services, I’m up for it. But I’m not looking for new ones, not even accepting new ones, and I had already made the decision to focus on classes and writing.

Then last week dealt me another huge blow. My biggest client decided to remove 21 classes from the roster. Not because I had done anything wrong, or because there were any problems with my performance in any way. It was simply a change in policy on the types of classes they would host. Even in light of offering them a long list of other possible classes, they chose to cancel instead of substitute. This cost me nearly $2,800 in income.

And then yesterday, another blow came. I had scheduled five classes with a site I use off and on. It meant, according to my figures, the possibility of about $1000 in additional income. Last night I received an email that, due to the director of programs leaving after 30+ years, they were canceling their summer classes and would resume in the fall.

Again it seems that for every step forward, I end up taking two steps back.

I won’t get into the HOURS I spent scheduling all of these classes on the Google Calendar, creating invoices and even preparing future posts in TDN that would automatically post five days before a class to remind folks. In fact, I scheduled so many that I broke my database. It refuses to let me in to delete them now! (This means I get to check TDN every day for the next four months and delete the post as soon as possible. Fun, fun, fun!)

I have always shied away from the abstract. And to me, writing is nothing but abstract when it comes to income. I love it, but will it pay? I love to write stories, and those who have read them have had good things to say, but that doesn’t pay the bills folks. Not at all.

Yet, with each blow I receive, I find myself inching closer and closer to just dropping it all and saying, “Screw it, I’m going to write. I’m going to write, write, WRITE and just see what happens.”

Last night, with the TDN database not working, locking me out, giving me errors, along with a recalcitrant child who doesn’t want to do her chores, less and less money earned each month, et cetera…I just broke down and cried. I’m angry, frustrated, and so much more. I feel as if I have done everything right, been professional, given good quality classes, and yet, here I stand.

So I took the night to work it out and here is what I decided…

  • I’m raising my prices – I’m not leaving my house for less than $200 (a few exceptions apply on this…women’s groups, some charitable organizations)
  • I’m adding in a cancellation clause with my class hosts – cancel with less than one month’s notice and pay 75% of the class fee, two month’s is 50%, three months is 25% (this won’t apply to classes that are not happening due to lack of sign-ups)
  • I’m restricting our homeschool outings to less than three or less per week – I feel like I’m never at home anymore!
  • I’m reducing my teaching availability to no more than eight classes per month
  • I’m damned well FINISHING my book projects I have planned
  • I’m going to venture back into the world of writing for gardening, parenting, homeschooling magazines

So, that’s the story, folks. I’m pissed, frustrated, sad and stressed. But I’ve got some ideas in place and now I’m going to put them all together and see where we end up. Change isn’t easy…but each experience has been leading me to this place, this moment, where I stand now.

Just the facts…

I was musing over a few “facts” recently. I won’t wax long and poetic today, I’ve got a foundation to work on and then I’m going out for drinks tonight. Here they are…

Fact: I Cannot Stop Buying Books

It’s a compulsion. And if I am faced with the author, it is absolutely impossible for me to say “no” to them. Unfortunately, other authors don’t seem to experience this same compulsion.

This is quite possibly the reason I spent $65 on books today and only sold $30 worth of my own. Eventually I will run out of space…

Then I’ll have to build more bookshelves!

Fact: I No Longer Read as Much as I Would Like

With all of these balls I keep juggling in the air, I’ve got almost zero time to write much less read. This is a problem. I LOVE books (see above) and the thought of not being able to read them all makes me quite sad. Somehow I need to find time to read more…seriously.

Fact: Writing Books is a Lot Like Living in an Old House

It’s a labor of love. It takes hard work and dedication, and you may never see any profit from it.

Today, at the local coffee club, someone came up and asked, “Selling lots of books?”

I looked down at the two $5 bills in front of me, testament of the two organizing books I had sold by that point. “Not yet…perhaps I need to write more.”

They laughed, but I was serious. Eventually I will wear people down through sheer volume and genre diversity.

My Guru

One of my dear friends recently gave an interview to Beyond Your Blog on a subject she is quite experienced at…writing for regional parenting magazines.

Kerrie is my guru. She has brought me out of that low funk of “I’m never going to make money writing” to “Damn, I can do this!”

Her book, Make Money to Write About Your Kids is an excellent resource that can be used by all kinds of writers, not just those writing for regional parenting magazines (although I do wish she would make my life easy and publish a book on regional home improvement/gardening mags too!).


Here is where you can find the podcast…Beyond Your Blog

I think that what strikes me as the most beneficial is (beyond all of the amazing lists of potential client magazines) her laidback, no-nonsense attitude and advice. She makes it easy…because it is easy…to break into these markets!

Kerrie is my guru. I love how she presents this info and cannot recommend this book enough!



Goals? Maybe…

A few months ago, I was really wrestling with what to do. Let’s face it, balancing THREE different work/income earners into one day was simply too much. Especially along with unschooling the kiddo and general other house and home “gotta do’s.” Each time I considered trying to write more or teach more, I was wondering what I could focus my energies on and for just how long.

With the cleaning biz slowly fading away, I’ve gotten a little breathing room and incentive. NOT working is not a choice for me. So unless imbibing Mai Tais by the poolside begins to actually pay money (and then I would actually have to like going to the pool, much less drinking MaiTais), I have to work AND homeschool. At least now I can focus on the two career choices I have always preferred – teaching and writing – and perhaps, you know, actually make some income on the latter.

So I woke up thinking of goals…

  • built Twitter
  • write and submit at least three articles this week
  • work more on class prep – I have a “few” (15 or more)  Zendalas I need to get done
  • write 5,000 more words in Gliese 581 (I’m at 29k right now)

That’s just work. We are also juggling what to do with Dave’s Civic (fix it? replace it?), considering replacing some windows here in our house (or all of them, not sure yet), still working on quotes for The Cottage and deciding whether or not we can move forward this year, or next, with most of them.

I’ve begun reading Book 2: A Brave New World to Dave and Emily. Believe it or not, Dave has not read any of Book 2. Some of the parts are sure to be rather intense for Emily, but she is caught up in the story already, happy to be read to and excited to be listening to “Mama’s book.” Book 2 is far more tame than Book 1, so when we get to any of the intense sections I’ll probably abridge it for her.

Time to get some work done before the kiddo wakes up at nine.