Romance on a Budget

Here’s the thing: producing books that can stand toe-to-toe with what the big publishers are putting out costs money. Good editors cost money; they’re not charities, and as with any professionals who know their worth, you can only negotiate them down so far. Even going by the average rate of $35-50/ hour, you can rack up a sizable invoice for a single pass of copy or line editing (my books get four, then galley reads). After all that, we haven’t even gotten to the post-production costs of PR and advertising. Is it daunting? Of course. But if you want to succeed, or even happily fail—knowing you gave it your best—you have to take chances. I won’t tell you exactly how much of my savings I’ve spent on making this series, though I will say that it has been a lot. Enough to make many of you balk. That’s material for a later blog, though, and since I’ve had some emails and inquiries about the cost of writing, I’ll certainly add that to my TBW (“to be written”) pile.

We’re here to talk about love. It’s been ten years since I fell in love. My partner and I have known poverty, death and the whole range of shitty and wonderful experiences that life could serve us. When we met, we had nothing aside from our feelings and our crappy jobs. We lived in a basement apartment and ate pierogis, heaps of broccoli (mostly stems, then, not florets), and discounted meat, since that’s all we could afford. We were happy, even if we were poor. Today, we’re not rich by any means, but we are comfortable. The same was true when I started my writing career, and we had finally reached that point in life where things were stable, financially and emotionally. We were considering adoption at that time, however, it was a choice between raising a family or chasing the dream of bringing the world in my head to life.

Like any true, loving partner, mine encouraged me toward the latter. It hasn’t all been wonderstruck romance, though. When you make the decision in a relationship for one of you to effectively rack up exorbitant costs with little immediate return, things have to be cut from the budget. We’ve gone on less dates, fewer trips and spent more nights at home than in previous years. More than once, we’ve settled into a bit of a slump, from which we eventually stir ourselves—love, as I’m sure you know, has ebbs and flows. We’ve had to discover new ways to romance one another that aren’t expensive dinners, vacations, or material shows of affection.

We discovered that often the most romantic thing you can do doesn’t cost money. It’s the time that matters, the hours or moments spent where that person knows you were thinking of them. An example. Recently, we let our cleaning lady go; she was cheap, wonderful, and only coming every two weeks, however, she was an expense, and the books need to be balanced. We tried to keep up as best as we could, though there was always a bit of lingering laundry, and neither of us enjoyed the hour-long task of doing the hardwood floors in our apartment. Tensions and mess began to pile up. We started bickering and forgetting the whys of our love. When I realized we were slipping apart over such a silly domestic issue, I took action. One Friday, when J came home from work, it was to a spotless, candle-lit, gleaming home: cleaned floorboard to dusted light-fixture. Oh, and I had chilled glasses in the fridge and had prepared a premade Manhattan for each of us. Yum.

We had a nice dinner, enjoyed our drinks and talked, really talked as we had when everything was new and we were still hiding parts of ourselves from each other. All from cleaning the friggin’ house. I’m a Virgo, so a need for organization is in my nature. However, it’s a side of my nature that I’ve applied more toward writing and cerebral pursuits than to physical ones (well, I guess exercise would be the exception). As outspoken as I am about gender roles and non-conformity, I’ve made it a habit now: “getting the home ready for my man.” And that’s not me being hypocritical, it’s me being practical. It costs me nothing other than a great deal of sweat and three hours worth of labour to make my partner’s week finish on a note of relaxation and bliss. Heck, I’m actually happy when I’m cleaning. Feels good to be industrious! Who knew? But the greatest lesson I’ve learned from becoming a househusband, is that romance doesn’t have to be expensive, it only has to be thoughtful.

All my love,