I have quietly come to the decision that I want to work toward becoming a full-time writer or creative. I’ve been thinking about this for a long-time and have been prioritizing my goals over the past few quarters to reflect this. At first, I wasn’t sure if this was even a tenable goal since my author income was pretty low after I derailed my marketing and such during the great burnout of 2018-2019. After reorienting myself to market my backlist better and publishing The Reanimator’s Heart, I’ve seen my income increase. It’s nowhere near what anyone would consider full-time, but it’s beyond what I ever expected to make this past year.
What I would like to do is incrementally move toward this goal of being a full-time creative, and I am taking that first step. I’m only working at one university in the fall. I won’t rag on my past employer, but I find working at this particular university is more stress than its worth. The class sizes are very large, the parking is miserable, and they have a tendency to cut my class like two days before the semester starts, which means I get left in the lurch and unable to make up that income anyway. By only working at one university, I will have more room to focus on my writing while, typically, dealing with smaller class sizes and a more predictable schedule. This university is better for me as I know and am friends with most of the full-time faculty in my department, the vibe of the students is different, and generally, I leave work feeling good rather than frustrated. This is the school where I teach creative writing classes, so I feel like my skills are valued there.
The hope is that I can write more while only teaching at one school. For my writer friends, this part is obvious, but more writing means I can publish more books, which, hopefully, means an increase in author income. Right now, I have decent momentum going with The Reanimator’s Heart and its sequels. I’d like to continue that, but if I’m bogged down by 3-4 classes, I can’t do that.
I know there are some of you out there who are like, “Kara, are you out of your mind? You are willing to trade guaranteed income for hypothetical income.” Yes, I am, but working in academia is never truly guaranteed income. Sadly, this is something I’ve learned a lot over the past few years. Classes get cancelled last minute, you get ghosted by universities, or suddenly a school decides to swap class times and your commute is now 2 hours longer than it needs to be. This costs me gas money, tolls, and my time. The last one is really what has been bothering me. I waste so much time driving between multiple schools or dawdling between classes where the schedules don’t line up perfectly. And I don’t want to do it anymore.
I’m still keeping an eye on the scant academic job listings, but more and more being an indie author feels like a realistic option. I don’t need to make a million dollars. I just want to make enough to pay my bills and occasionally go out to eat or buy myself something nice. That bar feels doable, though I hate that I need to figure out quarterly taxes. On top of all of this, I’m neurodivergent, and I think working for myself, eventually, would be a good option for me. I’m self-disciplined, driven, and willing to work hard to become a full-time creative in the future. Something I would love to do now that I’m dabbling with art again is make planner stickers. I absolutely love using them, and I love drawing objects. The intersection of two of my passions would be a great thing to explore, and this is why I initially wrote in this post that I’d like to be a full-time creative. A writer who also draws and has a little sticker store would be something I would certainly be interested in pursuing.
For now, I’m definitely still working at the small university as long as they’ll have me, but ultimately, being an author is the star I’m steering toward.