Friday, February 05, 2010

More than flurries

Here's hoping that any of you who are affected by the current blizzard are in a safe place with plenty of food, good company if you want it, adequate heat & light, and something good to read. It's pretty impressive out there! Here in south-central Indiana, we are just on the far edge of it; we had freezing rain, sleet, regular rain, falling slush, big fat wet snowflakes, and regular snowflakes at diferent times throughout the day. Currently it is snowing like a snowy thing out there and I hear there have been a lot of slide-offs and fender-benders around town.

Indianapolis, a little ways north of me, is expected to get around 8 inches of the stuff overnight. I'm hoping they get the highways cleared quickly, as I need to get up north to deal with a family situation - I'll be spending about a week with my mom while she recuperates from a bit of unexpected surgery.

* * * * *

So, poets & writers, what do you do with the occasional actual check that you receive for a piece of writing? I mean, those of us who don't get paid enough for it to make up a significant percentage of our living wage. Thirty or forty bucks here and there, that kind of thing. It's always nice, even if it doesn't add up to minimum wage when all's said and done; there's something about getting money for a poem that says "this counts for something." (Yes, contributor's copies and nice notes and even acceptance form-letters count for something too, the nice notes perhaps most of all. But, you know, we live in a culture that values cash. So.)

So what do you do with it? Do you:
  • Sock it away in a special savings account and let it add up?
  • Purchase a little something special for yourself with it? (I will admit that on the day I got my check from Field, I spotted a handmade journal on Etsy that costs just about the amount of the check... and I'm sorely tempted.)
  • Turn around and spend it on po-biz stuff, reading fees or postage or supplies? Or sock it away towards a workshop or an AWP trip?
  • Turn around and spend it on poetry books or journals?
  • Treat it like any other income and spend it on groceries or rent or whatever?
Just curious what other people do...


Lyle Daggett said...

Actual check? For a piece of writing? I... I don't understand... [confused cat expression]

As far as I can recall, I've never made any money, none, for publishing poems in magazines or anthologies. My lifetime income from 40+ years of writing is I think somewhere between $200 and $250, and about half of that is from a couple of essay/article type things and some book reviews. The rest is scattered tiny amounts for a few poetry readings I've done.

The largest single payment I've gotten was, I think, $60.00, for one of the article/essay things.

I'm not counting here any money people may have given me for copies of my books, because overall I likely have either spent more than I've made or may have about broken even. (Long dull details I won't bore with.)

I have no idea what I did with any of the small amount of money I've made over the years, but I basically spent it on whatever needed spending at the moment. I didn't secret away in a special Literary Lucre fund.

(Word Verification is "spentn", which I believe proves my point. ;)


Snowed lightly all day here, the temperature near enough to freezing/melting point that a lot of it became sloppy slush or muddy curb water as the day went on. Sidewalks had barely a coating of snow most places I walked. Hoping it melts off before this coming week when it's supposed to turn colder. Could make for wicked walking if all this stuff slushy stuff freezes up hard.

Leslie said...

I tithe. To the church of poetry. I know that sounds flip, or maybe blasphemous, but my theory goes that the best way to be alive in the art, the craft is to feed it.

So whenever I get a po-biz check, I get to use a certain percentage of it for whatever I think will feed the poetry. Sometimes a book, sometimes some talismanic object, sometimes a subscription to a journal, sometimes new hiking boots.

The percentage moves around a lot.

I spent most of my book advance to cover expenses to go to Sewanee.

Most of the time most of my money has to go to the living--food, mortgage, postage, gas for the car.

But investment in the craft is how you grow it. So I keep general track of the income from po-biz stuff and what I can spend. Then I wait until there is something I need.

jessie carty said...

good question. i've not made much in the way of money with my writing but when i do get a small amount in i tend to just reinvest it in things related to writing whether it is saving for AWP or buying a new book of poetry. The most I ever received at one time was $50 from a small local contest. I put in an order for more copies of my chapbook :)