Posted by Victoria | Filed under Victoria
Last night I took the opportunity to go to a workshop held by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, an organisation I joined last fall but haven’t done anything with besides read their weekly newsletter and think wistful thoughts about one day having an author reading all of my own. But I was in town and available for this one, and I decided to go to it. It had a small fee, which came out of the account I have set aside as my “Writing Fund.”
My writing fund is for writing professional development. I use it to buy books on writing, or a box in which to keep records, or buy postage for mailing out submissions, or the like. I’m not actually a professional writer yet, but I’m working on it.
It doesn’t have very much in it, my writing fund, but the fact that it exists is very important to me. It’s part of what makes me feel I’m moving forward in that area of my life, along with writing this weekly blog and the personal one I write a little more frequently. Last week I bought the “2012 Writers’ Market,” which lists all the agents and publishers and markets and what they accept and want and don’t want. It’s really hopeful thinking at the moment, but it represents concrete steps forward for me. I’m not just looking at old versions in the library; this is the year I take concrete steps forward.
I don’t have a separate account for academic professional development, because that’s part of my current job and not something I do on the side, as it were. It’s at once more expensive — faraway conferences, especially — and less, as I can apply for a certain amount of funding from my university to help defray those costs. I have friends who’ve set aside an amount each paycheque to buy an academic book so they can build up their libraries of scholarship. I haven’t been doing that so much because, well, although books are my weakness I’m quite happy to get very expensive scholarly ones from the university libraries. I have been buying the main texts I work on in scholarly editions, because even with faculty borrowing privileges it’s nice to have my own copies of the things I use most. I am slowly saving up for a very large Latin dictionary — I went for the two-volume Oxford English dictionary first. (Priorities!)
Perhaps this is an area like house maintenance. You know you should probably set aside a certain percentage or lump sum each year for the purpose of maintaining and improving your career, but . . . do you? What about when you’re trying to build a second career on the side? (Especially if it’s currently a drain on, not a source of, your income?) Mine’s very hit-or-miss, depending on the conferences I want to go to or the books I need to consult, I try to scrape it together with whatever’s in my slush fund. What about you?