November 25th, 2020:
It was a mixture of self-care, chores, panic and planning this week.
The self-care and chores were part of an effort to address issues contributing to my stress and high anxiety that resulted in panic attacks last weekend. I cleared my head by taking a few days off and then tackled some tasks in need of doing around the house that I’d let fester too long. This included getting the grounds ready for the coming snow, and replacing our rusty old mailbox which had weathered too many winter storms, road salts and plow truck beatings. It was droopy, sad, and the duct tape didn’t help make it any less hated by our postal carrier.
Its replacement is plastic, looks like it’s made by Fisher-Price, and filled with 100 pounds of sand. My postal carrier yelled through our window joyously that it was “A beautiful work of art”. As for me, I’m happy that I can push this non-rusting gentleman back from the curb for snowstorms and deny the plows target practice with it.
All this was very good for reducing my anxiety. It left me better equipped to deal with bad news on Friday when I learned that my unemployment payments were suddenly ending. It was literally a situation of the prior week showing me two or three months of funding left, and then the next week’s payment was going to be my last. The issue is the US Senate not wanting to pass any relief package except to billionaires: The federal funding for extended pandemic unemployment ran out. Therefore, I and many, many others looking for work but not finding any because of the conditions caused by the emergency are left with no support.
My wife is still working, but she’s not making enough to prevent a monthly net loss after paying our mortgage. We are frugal, and we do have savings, but if there isn’t any new help or change by February or March things will get ugly. Hopefully, the new incoming administration will be able to get some assistance to struggling Americans.
As the day-job market continues to fail me and now the government is (at least temporarily) not helping, my wife and I crunched some numbers on our publishing business. We are going to adopt some new measures and plans to see if we can generate additional income with it and my writing. Even if I could pull in the equivalent of part-time at a minimum wage it could greatly reduce or stop the monthly net loss. Getting to a starting point on that will take at least the winter, but we need to begin putting in the effort now.
Transitioning to full-time writing has been my goal for decades, but also a long-term plan after a disastrous first attempt in 2016. But 2020 has us looking for other options as I continue to be unable to secure new work even with almost two decades of experience in information technology. I’ll still be looking for a day job in that field, but as nothing has panned out since April, I’m not hopeful for anything to come quickly. And as conventional work isn’t forthcoming, I’ve got little to lose trying the unconventional too. Even if I fall short of my monetary goals to stop a monthly net loss, every penny is going to help.
One positive thing that’s come from 2020 is that it has confirmed my wife and I can get by on less. We’ve been doing it for half a year now. Writing doesn’t pull in a lot, but by reducing your expenses and changing habits you can make it enough. Can disasters still get you? You bet, but that’s true for 90% of us. What’s important is your safety and satisfaction every day.
We’ve sketched out a strategy based on what did and didn’t work publishing my first two shorts before covid hit, and we will be refining it over the long Thanksgiving weekend. So, more on that next week. Until then, I’m working on writing projects and will be enjoying the holiday even if socially distanced. There’ll be relatives to call, a Marvel movie marathon to watch, and we’ll be cooking up batches of Jason’s Noodleless Lasagna and Kim’s Cranberry Apple Walnut Crumble. For the rest of you celebrating Thanksgiving out there tomorrow, may it be happy in spite of everything 2020 has thrown.
Take care everyone! Be safe, and keep writing!
~Jason H. Abbott