More Work Means a Simpler Life for Week 44 (Decluttering and Simplifying 2010)

I’ll start this week with two more admissions.

First, I didn’t really do any decluttering this week. I picked up a few stray pieces of paper and wiped an extra counter or two, but I didn’t do any clutter-busting worth mentioning, and I won’t pretend that I did. (Side note: I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase “clutter-busting” before and probably shouldn’t again.)

Second, I’ve been really worried recently about our financial situation. My online used bookselling business — my primary source of income since 2003 — isn’t doing well. Inventory is getting harder to find, and the things I post online aren’t always selling as fast or as well as they once did. This is a bad time for the book business in general, and my financial survival has been dependent upon it. More than decluttering, financial woes have been on my mind this summer and fall.

But there’s good news. The writing faucet seems to be trickling again.

Today, I’m working on writing projects for some paying clients. Sure, they’re very low-paying clients, but they’re clients. I’m finding little projects that are nicely filling the gap that the drying-up bookselling business is leaving. These dribbles of income combined with the income I’m still getting from bookselling are making a terrible financial situation look a bit rosier.

While I’ve been decluttering and simplifying this year, I’ve also been working to cut expenses. I’ve always run a tight ship, but every belt has room for another notch or two, and I’ve tightened (almost) everywhere possible. Those cuts combined with my new income streams are making a simple, deliberate life possible for me.

You see, I don’t want a traditional job. I want to live the twenty-first century way — with income from a variety of long-term and short-term sources, both active and passive. We’ll all be living that way someday, but that’s how I want to live right now. I’ve been doing it — partially — since I stopped working full time a decade and a half ago. But I have a tendency to over-simplify some things. As one income stream overwhelms the others, I let smaller streams fall away.

My gay press career ended when I placed too many eggs in the basket of one good-paying company that stopped paying. Now, as my bookselling career falters, I’m in a bit of trouble because I’ve closed off too many other small income streams.

So in my case and for today, more active writing work means my simple life is succeeding. Quite honestly, I need money, and clients are stepping forward.

Passive income is great. Income from my established bookselling business would be great, too. But writing is my first love, and I hope I can count on it to see me through any rough patches that arise.

The yearlong journey that I’m documenting over these 52 weeks is about much more than decluttering. It’s about going more deeply into the kind of life I’ve always skirted around.

Today, I’m writing. I have some books to package, too. I’m probably generating a few cents of passive income with an ad somewhere, too. And there’s still decluttering, laundry and general cleaning to do. It may not sound simple to you, but it’s my idea of the perfect simple, deliberate life — and I’m getting better at it every day.


  1. Actually, it sounds to me like the best sort of decluttering is going on, because your mind is clear enough to do what needs doing: “It’s about going more deeply into the kind of life I’ve always skirted around.”

    Times really are tough for both books and art. We know.

    1. I think you’re right, Meg. The mind is clear and so is the bank account…. I’m ready to move forward.

      I hope going deeper doesn’t mean deeper in debt!


  2. spot on, simplifying isn’t just about decluttering, there much more to it, esp below the surface.

    each of us needs to find, define our rhythm & what a simple life means, for me that still means a salaried job ….

    1. That’s exactly right, Alex. Defining what our life is striving to be like makes it more likely we will get on track — and stay there.

      Thanks for commenting, as always.


  3. Gip, I like the word “clutter-busting”. It sounds like a bomb. We’ve got “bunker-buster” bombs, maybe the military could work on a “clutter-busting” bomb – you detonate it in your kitchen, and it only destroys your excess clutter. 🙂

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