Pay Myself First

Just after I got my first job, my dad took me to see his accountant. Can’t remember much about him, except he and dad were in the Knights of Columbus together–dad had been treasurer of the Council of St. Francis Xavier Parish–both were fourth degree knights, not that that really matters. Anyway, Tony gave me an overall view of how to handle my money. True I was young, still at home and didn’t have expenses like rent, phone [no cells in those days], but no matter. Tony set up this box with index cards showing my expenses at the time, insurance and car were about the only ones. But there was room to expand as I needed. And there was one that was Savings. Before I had any money to spend on fun and games, I was expected to save. And, for the most part, this ‘pay myself first’ was what I practiced my whole life.

This is important because I still do that for my, our, money, same system but it’s electronic.

What I need is a box with index cards for time.  Maybe it’s because I’m not as busy as I was with home, children, job that I don’t give myself the time anymore. Or because there are so many possibilities for distraction. But I do need that box.

As a SCBWI Regional Advisor, I am a volunteer. It is my responsibility, along with the Carolinas ARA and the IC, to create programs-conferences, intensives, workshops, retreats, even online–for the region. That responsibility is also fiduciary, as a treasury is involved. What I get is tuition to the international conferences where regional team members are expected to assist in registration or hosting a speaker, etc.  And, I like this volunteer work, it’s important to me, and I’m good at it.

But as I work on my middle grade novels, one that I am shopping and one that I am revising, I realize that I should, no must, remember to pay myself first. To spend time on research for the YA nonfiction I am burning to write. To read and reread middle grade mysteries so that I have a good understanding of what is selling in the market place. To search and find that right paragraph, sentence, phrase, word that will make the internal and external story so much more coherent and publishable.

So. Here’s me, working on the fall conference, and yes there is a huge amount to do, but here’s me, thinking about the art and craft of my writing. Here’s me, looking at the index cards in that box and making sure that I pay myself first.