Check out another great post from our friends at The Billfold:
I’ve tried to write the first sentence of this post about a hundred times now and it’s proving very difficult; it turns out money matters are incredibly hard to talk about. I think we found a taboo, you guys!
Imagine: even here, in this adult-diapered medium, there’s a last bastion of self-revelation that’s untouched. I’m just stalling now basically. Okay, (deep breath) here goes.
In 2008 I got a book advance of $200,000, of which my agent took 15% and the IRS took approximately one-fourth. Still, that’s a lot of money, even paid out in quarters over the course of several years, and for a few months after I got that initial check—for the first time in my adult life—I mistakenly assumed that I didn’t have to keep track of how much money I was spending. Because surely this good fortune was the beginning of more good fortune to come!
There would be foreign rights sales, audio rights sales, fat old-school magazine payments for first serial rights when the book came out, maybe a film or TV option—not to mention all the paid teaching and speaking opportunities that having written the kind of book that a publisher would pay a six-figure advance for would undoubtedly bring my way.
And then, too, there would be another payment of the same amount or more money for another book, a book I couldn’t quite imagine and hadn’t even started writing, but would definitely be able to write in a year or less after the first book came out because what was I, lazy? No, I was quick, quick like a blogger!
Without whining or belaboring, I will just say briefly that precisely zero of these rosy fantasies came to fruition. Other stuff happened, maybe better stuff in the long run, who knows. My publisher, I’m sure, did the best it could. My book did the best it could. The U.S. economy did the best it could, or something.
Please don’t imagine a pathetic little violin solo here. I’m not asking for sympathy: I know I’ve been lucky. I’m just saying, if you ever find yourself in a similar position—and indeed, a few of you undoubtedly will!—here are some simple rules to follow, all of which I broke.
- Don’t live alone in New York City unless you have a full-time, high-paying job and plans to keep it for the forseeable future!
- Don’t pay for your own health insurance!
- No international travel, even if your boyfriend is living abroad for a year!
- No therapy!
- Don’t do yoga teacher training, it is so expensive and you will never make any money as a yoga teacher!
But wait, actually, you know what? I’m glad I violated all of those rules. My year of working on my book pretty much exclusively while sometimes flying back and forth to Moscow and going to therapy all while renting my own apartment where I could have the furniture and stuff arranged any way I liked and if there were messes they were all mine—that experience was priceless.
Well, it wasn’t priceless—I know exactly how much it cost (see above). And it sucks to have spent all that money and to be broker than a joker now. But if I had it to do over, I wouldn’t do anything differently… except for one thing.
I WOULD NOT BUY ANY CLOTHES. NOT ANY. ZERO CLOTHES.
Owning my mistakes and ne regretteing rien is kind of my “thing,” but these garments are the exception. Some of these items were mistakes from the moment I walked up to the register. Others just wore out their welcome, or have context associated with them I can’t stomach now.
Also, I should state upfront, I have worn a thrifted button-down shirt or, in the summertime, an American Apparel t-shirt and the same pair of jeans or cutoff jean-shorts almost every single day for the past six years, so what I thought I was doing buying any of this gear is very mysterious. Like for example:
To see Emily’s misbegotten clothing, continue reading at The Billfold.