If I were so smart, wouldn’t I be rich by now?

In this story, I’m on the phone with my favorite professor. You know the one–with the tweed jacket and the line drawing of “Death the Comforter” over his desk and the cigarette in his hand brushing back the greasy hair. Always the cigarette.

After all, it is the 1990s.

In this story, however, it’s the 2010s. We’re reconnecting after twenty years, and I’m telling him how disappointed I am in life. I was supposed to be great. He always thought I’d be great. And instead, I tell him, I’m struggling every month to figure out how I’m going to buy groceries and not get the water turned off. If I were so smart, wouldn’t I be rich by now?

“You chose to be an artist,” he says. “It comes with the territory. If money were important to you, I have no doubt you’d find a way to make lots of it.”

That was an epiphany for me. To hear that poverty wasn’t a reason to be ashamed. A sign of failure. Evidence that I’m not as good as I thought I was.

Nothing to be ashamed of, poverty is simply a natural condition of the choice to be an artist.

Which is true. And not true.

Nothing to be ashamed of, for sure.

I don’t think he meant his reassurance to be the catalyst that it was, though, at least, not for what it was a catalyst for. I think he expected me to go on being a starving artist, and worrying all the time about money, because that is what artists do.

I took it differently. I took it to mean that it was high time for me to figure out how to be an artist and make lots of money. I took it to mean: It’s time to stop eating ramen three days a week. It’s time to stop crying when the car breaks down or because the power bill is higher than expected.

I took it to mean that there is no reason I have to choose between my art and my family.

As many of you know by now, I made over $100,000 as a writer last year. Here are a few of the things $100,000 did for my family:

  • We sent the kids to their grandparents in Colorado for a month.
  • I flew to California, twice, to celebrate the lives of family members.
  • We made two short films together as a family.
  • My husband and I went to film festivals together.
  • I hired people to do things I didn’t want to do so I could make more money doing the things I do like to do.
  • We moved out of a too-small house on a tiny lot into a big old colonial with enough bedrooms for everyone and an acre of land on a lake.

I’m not telling you this to brag. I’m telling you this because I want you to have it too. I want you to have the freedom to go to the chiropractor when you need it instead of worrying over whether you can afford it. I want you to take your kids to Colorado (again!) for Christmas and buy them season passes to the amusement park.

Or buy yourself season passes to the amusement park. Or the local art museum. Or buy books. You know.

You probably already buy books. I want the buying of books to not make you poor.

And that, my friends, was the epiphany that gave me my great purpose in life. My “why,” if you’re into Simon Sinek (and if you’re not, you might want to be–Google his TED Talk). I’m here to help writers do the thing they love AND make money at it. The kind of money that lets you not be a starving artist.

If it’s time for you to take control of your finances and your life, you’re in the right place. Make sure you’ve subscribed at top right. If you know someone else who could use this, please share with them too. I’m here, and I’ll keep sharing my stories, and, most of all–my guides, templates, and resources to help you turn your craft into a lifestyle you love.

So, tell me. What will you do with your first $100,000?

Heather Head
Heather Head is an award-winning freelance writer and coach. Her work can be found all over the internet in publications as diverse as Redshift Magazine and Grit. Heather's fiction is represented by Ethan Ellenberg.

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