This is the 16th consecutive month that I have paid all of the bills exclusively using the money that I earn as a writer and independent publisher. I have a niche fanbase within a niche industry, and I’m managing to be profitable where larger, more popular creators and publishers seem to be struggling. There are a lot of other things that factor into it, to be sure, like being frugal and living a particularly extravagant lifestyle. Still, I think that being able to support my wife Katie and I while she’s in graduate school by doing something I love is worth bragging about.
If you’re looking for my secret, some folks will tell you that I’m a crazy workaholic. I prefer to point out that I went back to school for a business degree rather than pursuing an MFA. My guiding inspiration is Roger Corman, who made a lot of fun (and often good) movies with few resources and always turned a profit; he learned how and where to cut corners, but he also innovated the filmmaking process.
There’s the quote by Theodore Roosevelt that is on my corkboard: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” If I sat around trying to figure out how to do things the traditional way, well, we wouldn’t be living in Finland and Katie wouldn’t be in graduate school. I’d still be trying to figure out how to publish a game the way all of the people who can’t fulfill their Kickstarters do. I certainly wouldn’t have a string a well-reviewed best sellers and — did I mention this? — be payin’ the monkeyfarmin’ rent 16 months in a row.
Because when it comes right down to it, a quote from Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of Madeline, sums it all up: “My greatest inspiration is a low bank balance.” I cannot work in Finland. Jobs are scarce for foreigners unless you are fluent in the language, have a degree from a Finnish university, or have a specialized skill. The bills must still be paid. So I quite literally have to be creative in order to survive, so Katie can complete graduate school and become the academic she was meant to be.