Remember reading? The joys of curling up with a good book, transported to lands and times beyond yourself, in the company of heroes and villains that thrilled and confounded you at every turn? Sometimes I miss it. I’m not entirely sure when it happened but the way I read changed over time. Worlds become depthless repetitions of a more capable writer’s work. Heroes and villains become predictable, indeed whole plots are spoiled within the first chapter. The joy remains in the line, the craft of the words, how well the writer manages to wrench me from my own writer brain and stick me all unwilling and wary directly into the moment. There is still joy in being lost in the words.
Now my reading includes, texts on style, grammar and technique. I go to bed with a dog eared copy of a grammar book on the bedside table instead of Stephen King (not true, there’s always his “On Writing”) dreaming of syntax. Still, a writer stagnates and dies that does not continue to consume and to grow. Reading is a must, a valuable staple in the writing lifestyle though the joys it once brought are a lot harder won.
Did that just make you cringe? Remembering hours poured over dingy ill treated text books a bitten and battered pencil clutched in sweaty fingers, the eraser worn down to such a nib it’s been replaced with another already dingy and deformed? Sure as hell made me cringe and the thing is it never gets any better.
Now Arithmetic encompasses taxes, financial planning, bank accounts, budgets – it’s the hallmark of all that money you don’t have and where exactly it’s draining away. Reminds you of all the places you would like to be spending it. Of all the places you really SHOULD be spending your hard earned cash.
It can’t be neglected of course. Somehow you have to find the money for your daily expenses, your writing career and perhaps just enough fun to keep you from going insane at the Outlook Inn. Somethings simply can’t be skimped or skipped, and it’s all in the realm of arithmetic. Paying for your cover artist, advertising, editing, and anything else you can’t manage to do yourself, taking care of your taxes can never be forgotten, every penny you’ve earned working for yourself will have to be accounted for and half of it given to the government (don’t even think about bitching about it either).
If you skimp on the Arithmetic, cut corners, assume you’ve got all your shit covered when you don’t – you fail. Maybe the government gets you. Maybe you can’t get that awesome cover because you can’t afford to pay for it. Maybe you try and stiff someone and find yourself on a blacklist (yeah they exist no one wants to talk about them but they do). Or maybe, maybe you just can’t keep feeding yourself and your own.