From talking to a lot of writers who have lived off of their fiction much longer than I have, I’ve gained some useful perspective on what they do when times get particularly tough. Here’re what seem to be the top ten tips for survival, in case it’s of use to someone. I’ve ranked them from most used at #1 to least used at #10.
#1 – Go outside at dawn to lap up dew from leaves after the water’s been turned off. (Alternatively, scour backyard for “insect protein”.)
#2 – Mug the kid of the other freelance writer on the block for the pen knife, dollar fifty, stale cig, and rusty old bike with training wheels he took off of your kid the month before.
#3 – Throw self (in several layers of clothing) in front of slow-moving cars for insurance money.
#4 – Rationalize (and try to write off) living in tent by freeway with a guy named Spazzo as “research.”
#5 – Stand on street corner (until cops come) with a guitar you can’t play and an empty hat for tips, trying to turn your far-future SF novel about intelligent whale-bears into song lyrics. (“Oh mangy whale-bear/Oh mangy whale-bear/What happened to yer hair?/What happened to yer hair?/Was it glooooooobal waaaarming?”)
#6 – Start writer gigolo/escort service called “If No One Else Is Available…” and put free advertisement in local edition of “Mug Shots” newspaper.
#7 – Find copies of latest tanking book, put three in an old B&N bag, and attempt to get refund at local store by claiming your three cousins already had The Talking Spleen of Tribeca County.
#8 – Sell sperm or eggs to SFWA-Writer’s Guild “Spawn a Writer Today” fertility bank. (“Eudora Welty and Charles Bukowski still available.”)
#9 – Extract, bottle, and sell via blog or livejournal “Eau d’ Writer” (“Inspiration in an alluring scent; not approved by FDA, may cause blindness, masturbation, bleeting stupidity, arrogance, and alcoholism.”)
#10 – Get day job.