So now Nancy has assembled all our paperwork, W2's, 1040's, 3 in 1's, and filled out pages of the questionnaire provided by the accountant about medical expenses and charitable contributions, and things, and then she beholds me with a squinty eye and says, "We need to calculate your writing expenses."
This strikes me as hilarious, because before you worry about expenses, you have to worry about income. Writing for me has always entailed considerably more out-go that in-go. (This is especially humbling when you consider how inexpensive writing is. It's not like I'm a sculptor who needs a fresh block of Italian marble every other week. I just need paper. Hell, with a computer I don't even need that. What are my expenses, corn pads for my sensitive fingers after a day of typing?)
Terry Kay once told me that he estimated there were only fifty people in the US who actually made a living writing fiction. I doubt it's that many. If my own experience is any guide, the occasional coins that trickle into the coffer are more than offset by the expenses. For my last novel, for example, I set up a whirl-wind tour through all the major cities: Alpharetta, Athens, Macon, Milledgeville, Micanopy, Tampa, and then off to Iowa City. It was go-go-go. I probably sold, oh, twenty books or so. Oh, yeah, and I also went to Baltimore and Crozet, Virginia. So make that twenty-three books.
If other writers are like me, calling yourself a "professional writer," is like claiming to be a "professional golfer" because you paid $495 to play at Pebble Beach, plus $35 for the cart, and then found a ten dollar bill at the fourth hole.
Nevertheless, last year, I actually made more money writing than I spent doing it. I'm actually going to pay taxes on my writing income.
Move over, Terry Kay.