A Writer’s New Year Resolutions, 2015

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black background** Is your new year’s writing resolution to go on a writing retreat? You can join me in October on the Sunshine Coast! **

Each year I set specific new year’s resolutions just for the writing corner of my life, so it’s once again time to do that. The thing I find interesting about these lists is that once I’ve written them down, I don’t think I look at them again until the end of the year when I wonder what I wrote and how far I went towards achieving them. But it’s always fascinating to me how much of them I do unconsciously throughout the year, just because I’ve listed them.

So, for 2014, I set three goals:

  1. Stay calm and have a cup of tea. (I think I did this pretty well for the most part, bobbing up and down on the waves of my first year in publication. There was stress, sure, but I actually have a written plan now for how to handle ‘the things that went wrong’ in 2014 so I feel more prepared to greet 2015.)
  2. Turn guilt into gratitude. (I got better at integrating the working mother stress as I went along and I feel much more settled now that my toddler is in a good early learning centre two days a week. Though I had to work through a lot of guilt to get there, both he and I look forward to those days so that makes everyone happy.)
  3. Protect the creative process. (Again, I think I got better at feeding my unicorn through the year, and my most recent efforts to do this include my weekly challenge of Creative Tuesday.)

I also said I’d throw in some writing room decorating, and I had a big breakthrough with that in 2014 and am still enjoying my new relationship to my room, actively thinking about nurturing it so that it can nurture me in return.

So, for 2015. Here goes:

taxing-solutionsI only have one resolution this year, and it’s a big one. It’s the one that scares me the most, that challenges my brain, and pushes me into spaces I don’t like to go.

Numbers.

Tax!!!!! GST. BAS. IAS.

Blech!! That’s how I feel about it now. But by the end of this year, I want to feel like, Pft, it’s nothing. More than that, it’s my friend.

The whole tax stuff around writing is huge, difficult stuff, especially if you are a Word Person. A non-number person. The very gifts that make you a good writers, well, they kind of let you down a bit with the whole number crunchy stuff.

I will write a whole post about tax and writing sometime this year to share with you what I’ve learned. But for now, let me summarise by saying that if you have another job where you’re earning a salary, and then you get a book deal, then you really need to get on top of this tax stuff because writing income can shoot you over into a new tax bracket and, trust me, that can leave you with a nasty tax surprise. Also, after they’ve cleaned you out of money to pay that nasty tax bill, then you’ll then be asked to pay tax in advance, almost straight away. And that might be scary as all hell too.

And of course the rub here is that if you earn money from royalties, YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH YOU WILL EARN!! It could be $10 or $10million. There’s a big bloody difference between those numbers.

I am going to enrol in a bookkeeping course. (My stomach actually plummeted as I wrote that.) I don’t ever want to feel disempowered about my numbers. I don’t want to have to rely on an accountant to tell me absolutely everything. (But, oh my, I still need an accountant.) I need to understand the basics; I need to HAVE THE LANGUAGE to even be able to TALK about money. And I need that before I can fill out crazy ATO forms.

And my accountant and I are going to check in each quarter and try to estimate the numbers as we go.

I’m thinking this will take me all year to get on top of this. And so, that is it. My one resolution. The very opposite of what you would think would be a ‘writing resolution’ and yet I have to do it because I have become afraid to earn money because I am afraid of tax bills. And that’s just ridiculous. That’s not a signal I want to send to the universe. So I am declaring it. This time next year, I’m going to feel confident about the money. I’m going to shout, ‘Bring on the book sales, people! I can handle it!’

Bring on 2015.

The Creative Life Balancing Act

Bubbalicious 'helping' me
Bubbalicious ‘helping’ me

This is my library research assistant, the adorable Bubbalicious.

It’s often said that writing is a child-friendly career. True. But I’m not sure children are a writer-friendly addition 🙂

This is an interesting year for me as I work to find a new way of writing. A new timetable. A new head space. A totally new process. Listening to my body in a whole new way.

It’s taken me a long time to accept that I might need some help. But my Hubbalicious has been consistently working towards finding ways to support my career (and meet my next book deadline) while we maintain our wish to be hands-on, full-time parents. One thing we’ve realised is that I do need sustained, uninterrupted writing time. And that might mean I have to leave the house for a weekend every couple of months to get that. As well, I need at least three or four hours straight in a day to really get into my work.

So today is a new day. After much resistance (maternal angst, guilt, working-mother research assistant2_anxiety), I have embraced the addition of my lovely friend, Katrina, who lives locally and who has known Little Man his whole life. (And is also the greatest aunty to our dogs and cats when we’re away.) Everyone in this family loves Katrina. And today she’ll be joining us three days a week, for four hours a day, at home to help look after our Little Man and allow me some space to work. And I’m okay with that. Finally.

Really. Right now, I’m in my office while the sound of Katrina’s voice and squeaking toys from the other end of the house lets me know my bubba man is okay. Not just okay; he’s having fun. And that’s okay because I just need to remind myself to breathe and know there’ll be more times a plenty when I get to have my little research assistant back again.