Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions


The Freelance Leap: Panic Stations

Last Friday I finished up at my former place of employment. For the next year or so, I’m going to be trying to work out whether I can make a living as a freelance writer. My deadline is the end of September 2014. At that point I’ll either have an income from writing that lets me stay freelance, or it’s back to dayjobbery I go…

Weighing Up

So my first week, I’ve been writing longhand. Not something I’ll do often (although for reasons that will be clear by the next post, I’ll be continuing this way for at least another week), as it’s a terribly slow way to get the words out, but I wanted a sharp distinction between what my job was and what my job is. Switching from the dayjobbery PC to a notebook and pen pretty much does that.

And it’s been a good week. My days have been pretty simple. Up before the sun and out for a run. Back for coffee and a shower. In my study and writing between 8:30 and 09:00. A break for lunch when my lady pops in, another mid-afternoon when my daughter gets back from school, then I down tools at 16:00. That last bit is important, and it’s what’s made the week flow. It means that the evening is mine. For the last nine years I’ve been trying to squeeze two full time jobs into one life. This week, there’s only one, and outside of work hours I’ve been able to properly relax.

That said, I had two panic attacks this week. Proper ones. Heart racing, face flushed, waves of dizziness, lasts an hour or two. Not pleasant at all. For all that my body’s been panicking though, the rest of me hasn’t. Even while it happens, I’m perfectly calm. I know what it is, and that I just need to wait it out, but still… what the hell? I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. I’m getting plenty of exercise (about twenty-two miles clocked this week, and I’m starting to feel the benefits again). What I’m working on and how is stress-free, and has been so long in the planning that actually starting has been a blessed relief.

So, why panic attacks? There’s no point trying to pretend they’re about anything other than going freelance. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, and there haven’t been any other major changes to get worked up about. All I can think of is that, somewhere deep, my lizard brain is freaking out. It knows that on the last day of October, there won’t be a big deposit going into my bank account. It can see there are bills to be paid. It knows that the risks of going freelance are necessarily massive. It’s responding with fight or flight reactions whether I like it or not, and at the oddest moments (once while kicking back with a book, and yesterday while in the bath soaking sore muscles – both things that, as you can imagine, are inherently relaxing).

It’s perplexing, and I want to give my lizard brain a kick. Let’s hope it’s temporary. Neither attack was debilitating, just uncomfortable and protracted, but it’s definitely not something I was prepared for. Interesting that they both happened during off hours – these were times I would normally have been stressing about getting something done despite already having finished a shift of former dayjobbery.

But I don’t have to do that anymore. Lizard brain needs to get with the program.

Craven PlaceAs you should know if you’ve been following along, my latest novel Craven Place was released in paperback and for the Kindle on July 1st. As of today, you should start finding it on other devices too. It’s already showing up for the Nook, on Apple’s iBooks (I can’t link to every international version of their store, but a quick search on your device will prove fruitful), and on the Kobo. It won’t be long before it turns up on the Sony Reader and others. I hope you give it a try if those are your preferred reading devices, and have a good time with it.

This pretty much completes the release of my third book, the last bit of unfinished business before the new stuff I’m preparing for the next twelve months. Three novels, available everywhere. That’s incredibly satisfying. More to the point, that’s several new pools of readers who haven’t had a chance to look at Craven Place yet. Where previous books are concerned, income from all of those stores has always paled next to Kindle sales, but you never know what might happen. As the whole publishing sector is still busy discovering, just because things always have been, doesn’t mean they always will be.

Pieces are dropping into place for the books I’m releasing next year too. The artist and designer for three of these (a summer trilogy) is now confirmed, contracts signed, so there’s no harm in confirming that it’s Vincent Chong. Vinny has produced some of my favourite ever genre images for a huge variety of publishers and projects, and I’m basically a massive geeky fan of his. That he’s going to be giving these three books their faces with new work absolutely thrills me. If you have a few minutes, go and browse his website. His stuff is an extraordinary trigger for the imagination.

Still to hear back on another two queries I sent, but if they confirm then I’ll have sorted out much of my spending for the next year. With exchange rates as they are at the moment it comes to about £2500 for four books (£625 per book, counting fans). There’s some variance book for book, but with I’m spreading costs between them. That cash is safely aside – the first rule when self-publishing is not to spend what you haven’t got (ie, don’t get into hock), because even if you do well it can take a while before you get it all back – so that’s all good. What comes after those four books really depends on how they end up selling, but I’ve a way to go before I need to worry about all that.

So, a productive week writing, and the first pieces dropping into place for the next few books.

Let’s see what week two brings.

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