Over the course of my penniless writer’s existence, I’ve come up with many ideas for how I’d like to earn a living. Unfortunately, none of them are entirely practical, or in a word, feasible, at least not according to the laws of physics in the world we inhabit. But I am a fiction writer, and so, what’s life without a little impracticality? I submit to you my plans for gaining monetary support while still having time–and I mean real time–to write.
1) Bring back the patronage system. If it was good enough for Michelangelo, it’s good enough for me. I am all about having a wealthy king, duke, or religious leader commission work from me and support my pathetic standard of living while I write. Someone get the Pope on the phone.
2) Start a moon colony. I began plotting this with fellow MFA-ers Dot and Kandy roughly two years ago, when I was on the precipice of graduating from Pacific and all my post-grad fellowships began to fall through. First, we were going to steal a rocket, then Dot decided to build one out of twigs and hot glue (both of which I have in my house c/o Brandi–just saying, Dot). I was in charge of procuring rocket fuel, but if we could get the rocket to run on exhaustion and lost faith in myself, that’d be much more economical, since I have LOADS of that. I can’t remember what Kandy was in charge of, but I think it had something to do with making sure that no ants, roaches, or anything or anyone demanding money was allowed on the rocket or in the colony. Anyway, I’m ready to go whenever you are, girls.
3) Move to a place whose currency consists of dreams and starlight.
4) Figure out where to buy those money trees my parents are always talking about, how to plant them in the weed patch next to my house, and how to keep them from drowning in the Oregon rain.
5) This one is stolen from Esther Kohler, the narrator of Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan (a wonderful novel, written by someone who gets it): “My goal was to develop a chronic illness that would entitle me to monthly checks from the government, tender sympathy from my loved ones, and a good deal of time in bed with the collected work of Frances Hodges Burnett.” Sign me up.
6) Also stolen from The Fallback Plan: when Esther’s mother says she’ll pay her eight dollars an hour to plant wildflowers and asks if Esther wants to do that, Esther responds, “If by plant wildflowers you mean inherit $100,000 from a dead relative I’ve never met so that I can visit the catacombs in Paris, then yes.” Me too.
7) Go back in time to the 1800’s, when people were mysteriously and independently wealthy, freeing them up to roam the moors and fields all day, brooding and wearing stylish clothes. Or so the movie versions of 19th-century novels tell me.
8) Discover a secret passageway in my house that’s filled with gold. This was actually my brother’s idea. I told him there appears to be a crawlspace via the ceiling in one of my hall closets. He told me I should investigate it, but I told him with my luck, it’s probably storing a dead body. If anyone in the Portland area is brave enough to check this out for me, come on over. If we find treasure, I’ll give you fifty percent. If we find a corpse, I’ll be moving in with you.
9) Make a rich friend who’s willing to come over and investigate my house’s crawlspace, and then let me move in with him or her when we don’t find the treasure that’s supposed to pay my bills.
10) Become a pampered house cat. It’s just doesn’t get much better than that.