Claire King


Take Care of the Pennies

Posted on: June 10th, 2011 by Claire - 7 Comments

What do getting fit, writing a novel and retirement have in common?

Well, one thing is that they’re all things on my mind at the moment. Not that I’m ready to retire, of course, but I am wondering how I’m going to finance all the lovely things I plan to do in my golden years…

And getting fit – well my youngest is now 3 1/2 and at nursery school, so why I should be hefting about all this baby weight still…Ooh, my back.

So anyway, I was out running, and whilst I was thinking about the novel I’m writing, and Where To Go From Here, a few nagging, puppyish thoughts crept in about the money we’re spending on finally closing up the holes in our walls and putting in some heating. There were also a few moments when I thought  ‘I wonder how many calories this run is worth so far’.

And it struck me that all of these things can be treated with the same approach.

If you’ve ever embarked on a ‘get fit’ or ‘lose weight’ effort, you may be familiar with this sensation a few days in, as the unpalatable reality hits: this is going to take *months*. The goal is still appealing, or even absolutely necessary, but the enormity of the gap between here and there seems overwhelming. A testament to this is the number of gym memberships that lie dormant…paid for, but unused.

We would all like to have a happy retirement, no more work and lots of lovely holidays, time to spend with the grandchildren, take up new hobbies or learning. We may now all have twenty or thirty years of retirement ahead of us and it’s clear the government is not going to support us in our old age. It’s down to us to make plans. So what are we doing about it? Do we have an idea how much money we will need and are we saving a little every month? (Honestly, here, not enough. But the money only stretches so far. What should we give up today so we are secure in thirty years’ time? Can’t we have our retirement cake and eat it?)

When we set out to write a novel we can be carried by our enthusiasm for a little while, by dreams of turning what is in our head into something other people can (and will) enjoy. But eventually real life can get in the way of that momentum, the words mount up much more slowly than we would hope. The editing is chewy and painful. Incidentally, this often manifests itself in new writers starting to approach agents and publishers before their book is ready.

Three objectives, one solution – take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.

It’s an every day thing, not a quick fix – every day walk a few more steps, write a few more words, save a few more pennies (quite a few, actually) and in a year, two years, thirty years the jar should be looking good.

Oh and maybe cancel that gym subscription and put the money into the pension pot.

On on!


7 Responses

  1. Kate Brown says:

    Funny, I started running again this week for the first time in more than a year. It’s always felt very similar to writing. Thrill, pain barriers, perseverance. Sometimes important not to over do it, keep something in reserve for the next day. As for retirement, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to afford it. Ironically, if I were less persistent about writing, I might have stood a better chance on that one.

    • claire says:

      I think you’re absolutely right – if you overdo it it’s easy to feel demotivated the following day. The retirement thing is very scary, maybe we’ll all end up living in an old writers’ collective… Enjoy your running!

  2. Marisa Birns says:

    Instead of running, I walk. The streets here are too hard on the knees.

    Retirement. Ack. After I left last job, thought it would be easy to find another one. It’s been several years. So any hope of earning money through writing has to be fanned into bonfire!

    Okay. A few more steps today…

    • claire says:

      I can’t imagine running in the weather you’ve got either! Virtual bellows here blowing a bit of puff into your writing!

  3. Martha says:

    Head. Between. Knees.

    And a whole Creme Egg in my mouth.

    #epicfail on all 3 above… but I do have lovely kids and I enjoy eating cheap beans.

  4. Marcus Speh says:

    of course, i first misread the title of your post as “take care of the penis”. my bad, of course. but when i got with this, i enjoyed it, as always when i hang here with you. being very, very far away from any agent or publisher talk, i’m still interested in your excellent advice to keep the fires burning. i’m also thinking of hilary mantel who recommends “Are you serious about this? Then get an accountant.” – of course i do have an accountant.

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