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April 29, 2016

When I moved down to Athens last fall, I had a plan in only the loosest sense of that word. Particularly in terms of how to fund this project, I had a two-pronged approach:

  1. Eh, Athens is cheap. I’ll live off my savings for a little while.
  2. Surely I can find some kind of part-time freelance work to keep me afloat.

The weird thing is: it looks like I was right on both counts. My relative frugality the past few years gave me a nice little nest egg I could live off while I had little to no income, and the income situation has changed for the better. I’ve been grading standardized tests the past few weeks, which ended yesterday (it was a temporary gig) but pays extremely well, and there should be another round available in a few weeks, which I plan to pursue. Beyond that, some freelance writing is bringing in a few bucks, I have a gig tutoring high school students in reading and writing, and I’m about to start a new job rewriting news articles for lower reading levels (namely elementary school students). I’ve got a few other irons in the fire as well.

Juggling all these jobs—most of which aren’t on a particularly set schedule—takes some nimbleness, but I would be grateful for the flexibility it affords me even if I weren’t counting on that flexibility for book stuff. I feel a sense of agency that I always anxiously lacked working desk jobs, and April will be the first month since I moved here that my income exceeds my expenses. At least in Athens, this is now a sustainable plan.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be in Athens. It should be at least a couple months, but I’m probably not moving anywhere else until I can afford to. That will mean either a) finding full-time employment somewhere, b) my book becoming an instant bestseller and vaulting me to literary fame (lol), or c) building up a stable collection of freelance projects that would allow me to make ends meet in a pricier locale.

In the shorter term, though, it means my savings account will no longer be inversely proportional to the time I spend in Athens. It takes some pressure off. Perhaps you’re wondering, if you’re nearly seven years into this project while feeling pressured, how much longer is this going to take now? Good question! In absolute terms, I don’t know. I’m still relying on a few other folks to come through, and that’ll be on their terms. I do think that’s close. But I do know that the timeline is “whenever my manuscript is in a place I feel comfortable with,” as opposed to “whenever my savings evaporate completely.”

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