“Welcome to home ownership! It makes health insurance seem like a bargain.”
— Mark Gerberick
My old high school friend Mark was perhaps feeling a little cranky when he emailed me that comment,
since he had just done an involuntary swan dive down three flights of stairs, a feat soundtracked by his emphatic
primal screams, while being pursued by cold water that was spewing forth from the pipes he’d been
trying to repair.
My fear of such incidents was on the list of reasons I didn’t buy my first home until last year.
Speaking of which — as you read this, I’m celebrating my first anniversary in this house! I bought it on
October 1, 2012, after fighting my way heroically past bankers and underwriters whose reaction to my mortgage
application was, “You do what for a living? Are you kidding me?”
So I’ve paid the first year of my 30-year mortgage. Only 29 years to go!
I’m happy to say that I’ve had no busting-pipes-leading-to-accidental-swan-dive incidents so far ... though
there was a debilitating sewer gas leak my first week here, and a portion (a small portion, really) of my bedroom
ceiling collapsed in a wet, chilly mess thanks to an improperly soldered gutter. But that all got sorted
out. Since then, I have been living Happily Ever After in my enchanted castle on the hill. (Well, okay, no, in
my renovated 19th Century townhouse on a small lot in a neighborhood undergoing revitalization.)
My peripatetic nature is another reason I never before owned a home. For much of my adult life, I was
the sort of person who got anxious signing a 12-month rental lease. What if something came up and I wanted
to move on in five months?
By now, though, I’ve been through so many moves and am so tired of packing and unpacking, they can
bury me in this house. I’m here to stay!
Which means that paying for my new home is important to me. I find that having a mortgage—far and
away the biggest debt I’ve ever owed—is effective at getting me to focus intently on income and earnings.
Which brings us to that topic so beloved among writers: money!
As a full-time, self-supporting novelist, money always topped the list of reasons that I didn’t buy a home.
For most of my career, I simply couldn’t afford to purchase a house.
Two key factors altered that situation by 2012.
One of those factors, of course, is the rapidly changing nature of our profession these days. The evolution
has substantially enhanced a writer’s ability to generate income through old backlist, new frontlist
that isn’t under contract to a publisher, crowdfunding, increased licensing of audio rights, self-production of
audio projects, and deals with innovative publishing ventures and media companies that work well with
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