Slowing…but not stopping.
If you only read this blog of mine, and not any of my author blogs or social media, then it might have seemed like everything was ticking along nicely here.
In actual fact, for several weeks now I have been working through a personal health crisis, utterly unable to spare any attention to The Productive Indie. It was only because I had worked to get ahead of the release schedule for posts that everything looked normal here. However, the last of the scheduled posts appeared a couple of weeks ago. It’s not a coincidence that the last post was about my health (again).
On September 29th, I finally got answers to all the woes and niggles and pain I’ve been going through for over a year.
Reading any of my health posts would have left you with the impression that I had multiple issues, all as a result of poor health habits, in particular, sitting at the desk for far too long without breaks.
As it happens, I have only one issue. An uncommon form of cancer called Multiple Myeloma, which is a cancer of the blood plasma. The cancer causes the blood to produce too many white blood cells, which crowd out everything else. Through several mechanisms, they also leech calcium from bones, creating lesions and weak spots (sound familiar?). Often, the first time a Myeloma patient is diagnosed is because of fractures that appear to come out of nowhere.
For every “issue” I’ve had over the last year, including the compression fractures of the spine, the multiple broken ribs, the osteoporosis, cancer was the root cause.
That niggling pinched nerve in my neck? Only a handful of hours after I had been diagnosed with MM, the medical team took a CT scan of my neck and learned that the cancer had all but destroyed my C1 vertebrae (that’s the one right under your skull), and that what was left was curling in and putting pressure on my spinal cord. And yes, that’s exactly as serious as it sounds. I was put into a neck brace, my movements severely limited, and was scheduled for emergency spinal surgery. I now have titanium alloy plates, pins and screws in place of my C1, and virtually no lateral movement in my neck. But I’ll take that inconvenience over being a quadriplegic.
I start aggressive chemotherapy the day this post goes live. The chemo and other treatments have a 98% chance of putting my cancer into remission at the end of the nine month process. At the moment, I don’t know how I’ll respond to the chemo. It might wipe me out every time. I might sail through it without a hiccup. But until I have a few weeks of chemo completed, it’s hard to know what my daily and weekly schedule will be like. Since September 29th, there has been no schedule. We’ve lived and lurched from crisis to crisis (which included, as a final insult, coming home from hospital with COVID).
Everything I’ve said so far is to explain why my posts on The Productive Indie Fiction Writer will slow down for a while. They won’t stop altogether, but there might be large gaps between some of them. Once my energy picks up, and some of the pain recedes, I may even get back to close to my previous schedule. At this point, I just don’t know how things will go.
Your takeaway from this
I normally like to bring any post I write back to a practical point that you can apply to your own writing business, to make it more efficient and productive. The point I want to make with this post is far too large and encompassing for a couple of pithy lines, though.
It’s to do with estate planning, and setting up your business so that if you get taken out either temporarily or permanently, your loved ones and support people can keep the business running. It’s a morbid topic, but it’s one you must think about if you earn any serious income from writing.
I thought I had robust systems in place, with lots of guideposts and directions for anyone coming along behind me. This emergency taught me that, while I had a lot of good support girders in place, I had completely overlooked major areas of the business. It also didn’t help that the people who were trying to prop up the business for me, pay its bills and keep the lights on, were utterly overwhelmed by all the tasks I do on a daily basis that they had no idea were even a thing, until the consequences of them not being done made them painfully aware.
I’ve since talked to other indie authors and learned that, especially for authors with large back lists, this panic-inducing overwhelm is not uncommon.
As more and more indie authors are building large businesses around their writing, disaster planning must become one of the facets of that business.
So instead of leaving you with a few suggestions to consider, I will dip back into this topic with specific posts.
But for now, here’s a question for you: If you suddenly couldn’t work on your writing business tomorrow and for an extended time, what would happen? How can you offset that?
I would have to call on the rare friends who are younger than I, because my son has zero interest in my writing business. Husband would help, for a time, but I have not solved the long-term equation yet.
It can be a poser, for sure, Michele — especially when you remember that the copyright on your work lasts for another 70 years after you’re gone. It’s possible to hand on to your heirs a genuine, revenue generating estate…but it’s also one that can be so easily destroyed with a little mishandling. I’ve turned to education as a strategy — my son is learning the business and he can help his siblings maintain the estate and earn from it.
Would your son be more interested in learning the ropes if he understood that there was genuine income possible from it? Just a thought.
Otherwise, yes, you might have to look toward friends and writer-friends for the long term solution.
It isn’t an easy or quick problem to solve, for any of us.