Reader Request Week 2023 #9: Short Bits, Part One
And now, short answers to some of the questions that I otherwise did not get to this year:
Karen A. Wyle: What does it mean to retire from self-employment? Is there any purpose in declaring, to oneself or others, that one is Retired?
If you stop working for a living, and don’t plan to start doing it again, then you get to consider yourself retired, regardless of whether you work for yourself or someone else. I have older friends who are writers who have largely stopped writing for income, because they no longer have to, and either don’t want to anymore or feel that they’ve said everything they need to say for public consumption. I can’t imagine that, but then I’m not anywhere near retirement age. Check in with me in fifteen years.
Hope: I really, truly need Krissy to tell me her hair secrets. Her hair is always amazing.
Krissy’s secret is Pantene Pro-V shampoo and conditioner, not washing her hair every day, and extremely good hair genetics. Many people have remarked at how great Krissy’s hair looks as it goes gray, and I think a lot of that is (again) good genes, but also attitude; Krissy is 53 now and has had gray hairs since her 20s and is perfectly fine with the idea that at this point gray is going to happen. I didn’t get a vote in that decision of hers, but personally speaking I like Krissy’s hair without dyes in it.
Brian Skinn: How many accountants, lawyers, portfolio managers, real estate agents, etc. did you work with before settling in for the long haul with the ones you have now? How hard was it? How long did it take? Words of advice? Pitfalls to watch out for?
You know, I’ve been lucky* in all of these in that by and large my first choices for these things have been the right choices for me. I put that asterisk in there because one reason that my first choices in these folks have worked is that I generally had a very clear idea of what I wanted and needed from them before I went out and got them, so there was no confusion on either side about what working together would entail. So that would be my advice: Really know what you want and need.
Dorrington Williams: Could you talk a bit about your plans for your music? Any plans to do more than dabble?
At this point, no, because a) I’m not that good at it, b) the path to making real money in music is long and requires actual commitment in time and effort, and you know, I already have a real job. Beyond that, a while back I came to the realization that I don’t need make every interest a massive profit center. My music is out to streamers and if I make money off of it, cool. But my interest in it is for my own self, first, and everyone else second, and I’m enjoying the level of commitment that I’m at right now.
David Scott Moyer: I’d like to hear your thoughts on independent publishing. Not necessarily Amazon in particular, but they are obviously the giant elephant in the room. They provide a way for authors to skip the gauntlet of agents and publishers and get their work out into the world.
I mean, you’re looking at independent publishing right now: This site is has been up and running for a quarter century, and every once in a while I take things from it and put them into book form. So naturally I’m fine with it as a concept. That said, while it offers freedom, the road out of obscurity for those who self/indie-publish is generally even longer and harder than the road out of it for people who are traditionally published, and the same power laws in terms of exposure and income apply to both: A few people are up at top, most everyone else is scraping by at best. In both cases it helps to be lucky.
Demetrios X: Now that you have a few mysteries under your belt, how do you think your career arc might have gone if the coin toss had fallen the other way, and you’d set out to write a mystery? Also, what sort of mystery would you have set out to write?
I think I would have eventually found my way to publication if I had started in crime/mystery/thriller, although whether I would have been as successful there as in SF/F is an open question. I suspect not, since my debut book in SF/F had the luck of being in the right place at the right time, and you can’t time luck like that. What would have been drastically different is many other aspects of my life, since so many of my current friendships have come out of the science fiction community. As for what kind of books I would have written: Like the books I write now, without aliens and robots.
PHM: Would like to get your perspective on how screwed we (as Democrats or non- Rs) are with Joe Biden running again? Actually like him (or rather like NOT having a fascist in office) but very concerned about 2024.
I don’t think we’re screwed at all, and I suspect Biden will win a second term. As with his 2020 campaign, he’s not someone anyone is hugely excited about, but he’s competent and not a hot mess, and the likely alternative, in 2024 as it was in 2020, is a criminal fascist. Give then choice between “boring but competent” and “criminal fascist,” I think people will vote as they did in 2020. So, yeah, we’ll be fine (knocks on all the wood).
George McKinney: I’d like to read your thoughts on how useful ( if at all ) it would be for there to be a sane centre-right political party in the US, and if it could be successful.
Our government was (probably not intentionally) set up to privilege a two-party system, and it does the right (or what passes for a left here in the US) no good to dilute their political power by splitting it into two parties. So no, it would not be successful, if the terms of success are “electable,” and therefore it’s not going to get done. Personally, I would love it if there was a split! Then what passes for the left would have an easier time of it! But “making John Scalzi happy” is definitely not the definition of success in this case.
More short bits tomorrow —