Saturday, February 16, 2008

Donut tycoon

Mysterio predicts. . . your child will be a. . . donut tycoon!

Look at that cute little t-shirt -- it's the first in the gummy bear's t-shirt collection, ha ha. I'd never seen these before, but these "Mysterio" shirts come sealed in a flour sack so you don't know what the prediction is going to be until you buy it. Some of the other possibilities were "monkey wrangler," "conspiracy nut," and "gameshow host!"

So, Alexandra and I went to hear Natalie Goldberg last night at Powell's. I had met her once before, in the early 90s when I was in college -- she came into the bookstore where I worked; she was just browsing as a customer. I happened to be in the thrall of Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind just then, doing all her writing exercises like a mad woman, so she was a major star to me and I probably acted a little starstruck! Well, I'd never heard her speak before last night, and she didn't speak much, just mostly read some chapters and answered some questions, but she was still great.

The new book is focused on the practice of writing memoir, something that in itself doesn't appeal to me that much right now. But I still bought the book because it is, Natalie said, intended to follow her teaching style as closely as possible, for the day when she is no longer around. It's meant to be read (and participated in) straight through, not skipping around, so it's a little like taking one of her workshops. There are some great prompts, peppered with her wonderful thoughts on life and writing. Anyone who wants to write and has never read any of Natalie Goldberg's books, I recommend them. They really got my hand moving back in the early days of my own desire to become a writer. (Okay, so my hand stopped moving again for years after that, but that's not Natalie's fault!)

Meanwhile, for those of you who want to be working freelance writers who earn a living, HERE is a great article by John Scalzi; you might have seen it already -- it's been getting lots of link love, and it's really funny and really useful. I never had a desire to be a "freelance writer," -- or a freelance illustrator. Not in that way that you are looking to take on whatever work from whatever client, to make a living. I always just wanted to do "my own thing, my own way." I've been supremely lucky to have figured out a way to do that. Between licensing my art and writing books, I'm able to make a living. But there's still stuff in Scalzi's article I find very useful, such as his money management tips -- he suggests putting half of every check you get into savings for a) taxes, b) whatever is left over going to a retirement fund. That is very, very good advice for a self-employed person. And, if you don't make enough money to be able to do that, basically, you're not ready to "quit your day job" because of course you must be able to pay those taxes (quarterly, no less), and you MUST save. (He also recommends being married to someone stable with the kind of job that involves health insurance, but Jim & I didn't opt for that route, so we have to pay our health insurance out of pocket, which does not give us great joy.)

It's tough making a living as a creative person, but I would never ever discourage anyone from trying it -- and not just trying it half-heartedly. That will never work. You have to put everything into it. But, you might still have to have a day job for quite a while! I did. It's ultimately so worth it, though. I wish our society were a bit more conducive to the attempt -- that health insurance piece, it's a huge roadblock for a lot of people, but you must find a way to make it work. One way Scalzi recommends: live anywhere but New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco! Yeah, we left the SF area in order to be able to afford to be artists. No joke. It just costs too much to live there to be able to have time left over to pursue your dreams!

Happy weekend! I'm designing a new Laini's Ladies line right now, so I shall be in the studio. It's looking to be sunny out there, so I may peep my [freshly empinked head] out now and again. Cheers!


Frida said...

A donut tycoon - lucky you and Jim. You'll be set up in donuts for your retirement.

Thanks so much for the heads up on the new Natalie Goldberg book. Since I am writing a memoir at the moment and since I love Natalie Goldberg's work and her other "teaching" books I think I need that one! It's not here yet so I'll order it through the magical interweb.

Sending sunshine your way!

tinker said...

I loved Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones...though they had me going for awhile, I let my pen eventually come to a stop for a long time...I'll have to look for her new book.
Love the baby tee, and can't wait to see what you're cooking up for your new Laini's Ladies.

Marilyn said...

As I posted at SS, I love Goldberg. I've only heard her speak once (in Marin)...and as luck would have it, she had laryngitis that she REALLY didn't say much. That's okay...I'll let her books speak for her. ;)

HipWriterMama said...

Such a sweet shirt! Have fun designing the new Laini's Ladies. I have one hanging in each of my daughter's rooms--so pretty!

Disco Mermaids said...

I saw Natalie Goldberg in the 90's, too! She was speaking at an independent bookstore in Atlanta. You're right, she doesn't talk a lot. But one person asked her how she meditates, and she actually got up on the table, folded her legs and made everyone meditate for a few minutes. It was awesome!! Love, love her.

Yahoo for donut tycoon!


nonizamboni said...

When I read the Sunday Scribblings prompt I had to rush over and read about Natalie Goldberg's visit. thanks for sharing. . .I would like to study the subject of memoir writing, but then I'm as old as dirt. Anyway, thanks too for the Scalzi link!

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I would love to meet Natalie Goldberg! I am about to start working through "Writing Down the Bones" again. It's such a great book!

I'm not that interested in memoir either, although I like to think that my writing style is like memoirs...for fictional people. :)