Two Thousand Eight was an absolutely awful year for me. Essentially my sole income is my science fiction writing. My writing income during 2008 was the lowest it has been in about a decade, less than the minimum I needed to keep a roof over my head. Forget about groceries and everything else, my housing (in a modestly priced apartment) cost more than my books earned.
It's not an unusual state of affairs for me to have an income below my basic expenses. Normally I have a cushion set aside from better years to see me through the lean years. But over the previous two years I'd made a series of ill-advised loans to a relative, who evidently saw no need to repay them, despite my repeated entreaties that I needed the money paid back just to survive. The fact that Del Rey pushed back the publication of Starfist Force Recon; Recoil and Starfist; Wings of Hell didn't help any--part of the publisher's advance is paid on publication of the books.
So 2008 was a scramble.
In my youth, I'd done some semi-serious book collecting: Literary first editions. Illustrated books. Limited editions. I sold some of them on Ebay; some for less than a rare book dealer might pay for them. I wrote a number of articles for a low-paying crafts magazine. I did some work-for-hire writing for another author on a novel of his. I managed to do some other writing for money.
It was touch and go, but I made it, even though there were a couple of times when I wasn't sure I could pay the next month's rent. And then. . .
In July my modem died.
I didn't have the money for the upgrade I needed to get back online. This is serious business here. Dan Cragg and I do our collaborating by email. I communicate with my publisher via email. No internet, I'm in trouble. Fortunately, a friend had an under-strength laptop that he wasn't using, and loaned it to me. The laptop wasn't good for much more than email, but at least I was back in touch with the people I needed to be in touch with.
In early November my seven-year-old computer crashed. A crash so serious that I had to reformat the hard drive. I didn't have everything backed up. Fortunately, Dan had all but one of the files I needed. Then I had several more crashes before the computer died altogether.
I dug out my back up computer, even older than the one that died. It worked for a little while before its motherboard said "Sayanora" in December, and I was out of business except for the laptop that wasn't good for much more than email.
By then I had gotten the on publication payment for Recoil, and had started breathing a bit easier. Damn! I had to spend part of that money on a new computer. At least I didn't have to say yes to either of the friends who offered to lend me the money for a new machine.
So now I'm back in business, and have something to say about certain current events, which I will do in the next few days.
Honest. . .