Sunday, January 13, 2013

ROW80 Update 3 - Screw Unemployment

I had a formula in mind for these ROW 80 updates.  As I did on Wednesday, I was going to start each update post with what I expected to happen, and then fill in what actually did happen.  But frankly, after Tuesday, I didn't know what to expect for the rest of this week, so where just going straight to what did happen:

Which is mainly outlining, kerfuffle and an epiphany:

Day 3 (Wednesday) - More kerfuffle from unemployment, but I also had an epiphany.  I ran the numbers again on all my little buffers... and realized that I can actually retire.  Not just "kinda sorta but I should do the diligent unemployment thing first" retire. Which means I can, actually, tell the unemployment office to go take a flying leap. (More below.)

Late that evening after coming down off the frustration fury and relief high, I had to spend time to get my head back into what I was doing.  A little outlining, a lot of reviewing.

Day 4 (Thursday) - Freedom Day.  (Also outlining day.)  A little too excited that I have an actual firm, well set financial plan that doesn't depend on any nebulous guesses, to be as productive as I could be.  But I dove into the outlining late in the day and did good work.

Day 5 (Friday) - Outlining (and vet visits).  Bringing together a feral cat (who has no wrist watch) and a visiting vet (who has an appointment schedule) is a tricky proposition and disrupted much of the day.

Still, got some very good outlining done, and I think I will continue the outlining through tomorrow at least.  I'm going to talk about this outlining experiment on Wednesday.  Now that I have no real distractions, no deadlines or fear that my time will be taken away by employment issues, I'm finding that I can do things with this outlining that will be REALLY good for me. (I think.)

Day 6 (Saturday) - Good Outlining.  I had errands to run, but I got into some good work.  I am pushing myself to Go Deeper with the outlining, and finding that the process stops being like logical outlining, and instead becomes like real writing.  You get in deep enough, and the creative mind is the one in charge, and it becomes like a very rough first draft, rather than an outline.

It's not going to work the same way for every story, but for this, I really like it a lot.

Screw Unemployment

I have a lot I'd like to write here, but I'll cut the bitching and cut to the chase.  My only advice from this experience is this:

Don't even consider trying to build a writing career or freelance business while on unemployment these days.

Not unless you really consider your business/writing to be a pure hobby.  Unemployment, with its uncertainties and requirements and the necessity of always being ready for something unknown, is much worse than a day job in terms of interfering with your writing.

So if you are a writer -- or a budding freelancer of other sorts -- and you find yourself unemployed, you need to move on as fast as possible.  You have to commit to one or the other, at least for the transition period: Either set aside the writing or freelance business and throw all into getting a decent job, OR forego the unemployment benefits and throw all into your writing/freelance career.

It's rare that you can do the latter.  You can only do it if you prepare yourself financially well in advance. And that preparation may include setting aside your writing or freelance career earlier, to concentrate on day jobs and money for a while.  It may involve becoming a money geek and understanding investment and personal finance.  It may include learning to live on very little money.  It may involve having a heroically supportive family.

I've done all of the above in my time.  And in October, I figured could make it on what I had, but I didn't look that closely. I needed to deal with healthcare and look at all my options first. Now, pushed against the wall and forced to commit -- full-time job seeking or no job seeking at all -- I've taken a closer look at the math of retirement.

What I discovered is that I need two things: 1.) very little in terms of income and 2.) a big emergency fund (because when you have very little income, you can't save up or pay things off quickly).

And when I ran the numbers, I saw that my tertiary retirement account has enough in it to pay my minimum income until I can start to collect Social Security. (And yes, I have emergency funds up the wazoo.)

I can say "SCREW IT!  I'm gonna write.  Ça ira!"*

I am now officially (not just kinda sorta) retired.

See you in the funny papers.

*Ça ira! was a rallying cry of the French Revolution, and Wikipedia notwithstanding, when revolutionaries say it, it does NOT mean the wimpy "It'll be fine" or "there is hope." It means "It WILL happen!" and "We're gonna do this thang!"


Anonymous said...

Wow. So the real question is.. Do you feel free, now that you are officially retired and don't have to worry about the Unemployment BS?

SgL said...

I think it has to be a relief you can retire -- I have coworkers still going because they don't have the pension to do so...

I never quite caught whereabouts you are in the country, though. Will you be okay with all the healthcare coverage requirements and planning for that until Medicare kicks in?

The Daring Novelist said...

Ryan - absolutely! I feel Soooooo good.

SgL - I'm in Michigan, and yeah, this state hasn't got itself together at all. But I can only say, Thank God for Obamacare. I've got to wait a year for it, and I'd rather have been able to wait longer (for the kinks to be worked out) but there are interim options, locally.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

Congrats on being able to *really* retire! DH & I are working on building up the income for that, which we hope can happen after our daughter graduates from college if needed. Now that you no longer need to deal with the pesky unemployment stuff, have a great week!

Julie Jordan Scott said...

I love this post SOOO much I can't even put it into words. You are such an inspiration to me and I bet to many others.

I may mark this "my favorite row80 update of the year"!!


Congrats on retirement!!

Anonymous said...

So good to hear that you are in such a good position and can retire happily. Best of luck for the future.

The Daring Novelist said...

Jeanette: Good luck! It's a great feeling.

Julie: Thanks! Glad to be inspiring.

spaciireth: Thank you. Now if I can only come down off Cloud Nine and get to work....

Kate Copeseeley said...

Yay for uninterrupted writing time! Unemployment (in any form) is the pits, so I'm glad you won't have to deal with that any more.

Side note: I just realized the other day that I see your presence often on passivevoice (which I haunt like the proverbial ghost). I'm so dense.

The Daring Novelist said...

Hey, Kate! (waves) Yeah, it's funny how addictive Passive Voice is. I have to restrain myself from looking back at posts which have fallen off the front page. (It's the only way to keep me from spending ALL DAY there.)