Monday, June 30, 2008

Income and Identity

When I did my taxes earlier this year, for the first time I got to put down a new occupation as the source of some of my income: "Writer."
Ok, it probably should have been the 2nd time I did this, but I had so little ad income in 2006, I forgot to even include it. Oops! Given that I'm donating the blog proceeds to charities anyway, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it, and hope the IRS won't either! But this year, even though it still wasn't a ton of money, I remembered to declare my blogging income, and felt rather proud of myself when my accountant said she'd list "writer" as a job on my return. (And of course she immediately started thinking which expenses to use to offset that income-- internet access, for one.)

It's not like I'm doing this blog for money, but somehow it's kind of neat to feel like I can call myself a writer. I've always felt weird labeling myself an "artist" or a "writer," as opposed to "someone who likes to draw and paint sometimes" or "someone who keeps a journal and has done a few writing workshops but would be too embarrassed to ever consider actually trying to publish something." I've always felt like a dabbler, not someone who "really" did these things, and certainly not someone who could be considered to do them professionally.

It's weird: I know someone who defines herself as a writer and devotes a lot of time to it. She's published a book of poetry and probably made less money from it than I've made from this blog. Of course, there is a difference between being paid for one's writing, and being paid to attract eyeballs to advertisements, and last I heard no one was trying to advertise payday loans in the back of poetry books. But still, even if some of the content here is just links and brief commentary, I have done a lot of writing over the last almost 3 years, and a lot of people have read it. That it has made some money provides a certain validation, but I'd feel good about it even if it hadn't brought in a penny.

The really weird thing is that the only way I've been able to do this is to write anonymously. Sometimes the "real me" wants to say "hey, lookit, I'm getting paid to be a writer" but I can't!


Anonymous said...

Hi Madame X,

Just wanted to tell you that you dabble at writing quite beautifully. Your blog is well-written, witty and a fun read. Not to mention, inspiring. This past couple of months I finally started thinking of saving and investing and I stumbled on your blog. Most blogs on PF are all about saving at the expense of not having fun, I fear.

Anyway, I'm very happy that you're well on your way to achieving your goal.

I hope that I'll have the will and strength to stick to my goals too. But must say I'm quite envious of you guys out there in the US as you have all those plans and access to different kinds of investment vehicles. I'm a single 30 something Filipina, who's been bouncing around Asia (I go where the work is) and it's only now that I'm based in Kuala Lumpur that I became exposed to mutual funds. I opened several accounts last month and will be contributing tomorrow. Yey!

Have a wonderful day!


Anonymous said...

"Of course, there is a difference between being paid for one's writing, and being paid to attract eyeballs to advertisements, and last I heard no one was trying to advertise payday loans in the back of poetry books."

I couldn't disagree more. They are the exact same.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused - you are allowed to deduct the cost of your internet usage (because you're a business) when you donate all proceeds to charity (non-profit)?

Anonymous said...

Hi. I really enjoy your blog. I read quite a few financial blogs and particularly enjoy yours. I'm going to add you to my blogroll. We share common interests and I think readers at my site could benefit from yours. Keep up the great posts and if you're bored come check us out.

Madame X said...

anon 7:44: for the purposes of my taxes, I don't make any distinction between donations made from this site's proceeds and those in addition to that from my other income, I just deduct them all as one lump sum. I guess my accountant just wanted to deduct any expenses that most related to the blogging against that income first. It all works out one way or another!

Anonymous said...

You've been a writer for years, even if you didn't call yourself one :) I have two blogs, one for work that's under my real name, and one that's anonymous. Writing on my blogs is my favorite aspect of my work, and I'd love to someday be able to write full time. Glad it's working out for you (and how great that you donate the proceeds from the blog to charity!)

Anonymous said...

I suppose a lot of us feel this way about labels. People constantly refer to me as an "athlete" or a "runner" and I don't consider myself fully either. I've run 6 marathons a couple half marathons and finished a triathlon. But yes, somehow I feel like calling myself a "real" runner is fraudulent? I guess I feel like I'm not a "real" athlete/runner since I was never on the tack team and I'm not a professional or elite athlete (although I've raised thousands of dollars for charity via my races). Oh the way the mind works...

Bitty said...

I was just thinking about this this morning, only in the opposite way: how nice it is that the internet has given those of us who want it the opportunity to BE writers and to have an audience (however tiny mine might be). It's unlikely I'll ever be a famous writer, except in the Naomi Shihab Nye kind of way --

-- but that's ok with me.