The hustle

Nobody wants to talk about money. It’s horrible talking about money. But I feel like I should.

I’m 33 and my family and I live week to week. This is quite normal in our circle of friends. I gave up my day job earlier in the year thinking after two years at The Spinoff I finally had stable work. Then our great sponsor left The Spinoff Parents. So I lost my main income. I was lucky to pick up other contracting work but it’s been hard.

And then I see comments from people saying “She doesn’t need money – her books are everywhere and she’s at every festival”. I promise you – life looks very different here, in reality.

Here’s what you don’t see…

Late nights in a hotel room by yourself trying not to think about that dumb thing you said when you were caught off guard by a question.

Speaking for an hour and a half for free for a charity then your card declining when you go to buy something to eat so you go to bed hungry.

Being invited somewhere then when you ask to be paid being told “we are doing you a favour by selling your book!”

Turning up to events you’ve agreed to do for free if they sell your book only to find your book isn’t being sold. Doing events for a voucher then finding your book isn’t being sold.

Working on a speech for two weeks that you hope will inspire and connect people, doing it free because it’s a charity, then selling only one book and being asked if you can write “for the playcentre” because everyone is going to share it around.

Knowing that the charity event raised more than what it costs your kindy to run for a year, but you helped them and you haven’t made it to your own kindy’s  committee meeting for six months.

Feeling guilty all the time as you try to convince people that being an author in New Zealand costs more money than it makes, that it’s harder than it looks, that it’s exhausting and draining. Because you should just be grateful. 

Trying to explain it is all worth it, despite the people who hate you so much that they write reviews the day the book comes out without even reading it, just to hopefully try and stop a few more sales so you can’t pay your rent.

Knowing the people who want to see you fail don’t care either way if you and your husband have two minute noodles for dinner so the kids can have fruit in their lunchboxes every day.

But also knowing the loudest voices are those who love you and want to see you succeed.

Sometimes how things look on the outside aren’t as they seem. The writers, the artists, the poets, the designers, they’re not earning shit really. A hundred dollars here or there for a whole weekend of events is the norm if you’re lucky. It’s tough. But it’s so worth it.

On the days when I struggle to see the worth I’m lucky enough to have you. To everyone who supports me by coming to events, buying play tickets, supporting my Patreonbuying me coffee (or giving a one-off donation) writing reviews, buying books – you’re my heart.

I can’t thank you enough. You keep me going. You remind me that the best moments far outweigh the worst. Baby snuggles, new mum friends, community, following your dreams and all that stuff…it’s everything.

To be able to raise money for worthy causes, to be able to meet amazing people, it’s a dream come true. And I am very lucky.

I am especially lucky that my biggest champion lives with me. My husband is the love of my life and my biggest supporter. Here are a few texts from the road. When I’m away he texts me constantly to make sure I’m OK. It is only because of him that I can do anything at all. He is my rock and the best dad and husband anyone could ask for. Yesterday was our seven year wedding anniversary (and ten years before that) and an invoice was paid just in time for us to have takeaways as a treat. Life is good x