As mentioned on yesterday’s blog post, this is the second year I filed my taxes after everybody else, and because this was the year I poured a lot of time and money into my writing business, putting together the spreadsheet was something of a retrospective of the year.
(Which, by the way, is not how it’s going to be going forward. I am NOT going to leave everything to the last minute. We are doing monthly accounting at a minimum, because there is just too much going on.)
One of the positives of filing taxes as a small business person is that it teaches you to keep track of the stuff you should be tracking anyway. The first year that I did a seriously complicated return, I actually sat down in January and read the IRS Form 1040A instructions from cover to cover, in a spirit of curiosity and nonattachment. That’s a fine political science exercise, aside from any business lessons; you can see the track of the lobbyists. (Oil, timber, railroads, etc: every one of the Great Powers of American industry have left their footprints all over the tax code.) Also, if you are not freaking out at the time, those instructions are a fine example of good technical writing.
They are also an object lesson for the math-phobic in Why Algebra is a Good Thing, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
In the track of what we spent, we see the outline of our real priorities. This year I spent a lot of time and money immersing myself in the genre I was going to be writing for National Novel Writing Month: tons of space opera and a few classic detective novels. Inside the Jump is neither classic space opera nor classic detective fiction; like everything I’ve written, it bounces off the standard setups and lands in another solar system entirely. Since I’m still writing in that universe, I’ve started an Acknowledgments and Sources document for the entire series, and it’s growing by the day. A lot of my nonfiction has fed into it, including books I bought this year.
On the fiction front, I’m reading a whole lot of SF/F writers from around the world. Among the luminaries I’ve met just this year I can include N.K.Jemisin, Aliette de Bodard, Zen Cho, Ann Aguirre, Seanan McGuire, Genevieve Valentine, and the many contributors to anthologies such as The Mothership and Long Hidden. Creating the spreadsheet of my ebook purchases was a lot like reviewing the pictures from the most epic summer vacation ever. OK, not everybody puts spreadsheets and nostalgia in the same sentence, but there’s nothing like seeing the cold hard numbers (I spent money on this, and then I spent the time to read it) to say, yes, I value this enough to give it a piece of my life.
And the taxes are done for this year, so after I do some more fun things (writing!) I’m going to set up the accounting system and the files so that next year’s filing does not feel like a doctoral dissertation.