Resolved: 2017

How do I want to live, in what might be a very unpredictable year?

Photo credit: Tiffany Von Arnim, CC BY 2.0.

I’ll tell you honestly: I’ve been putting this off.

How do we approach 2017, in terms of who we want to become, what we want to do, how we want to build our careers (if that’s a thing you’re into) when it feels like much of what might happen this year is going to be so far out of our control?

And sure, you can look at it solely at the individual level, e.g.“yes, Planned Parenthood might get defunded, but I hit my earnings goal this month so I’m doing fine,” and you can also look at it from the global level, e.g. “how can I think of my own life when I’m worried about what might happen to all of our lives,” and neither of those feel right.

Like everything in life, I guess it’s got to be about balance and moderation.

So, okay. 2017.


I earned $87,709.33 in 2017—but, as I’ve noted before, it was an unexpectedly high-earning year. One of my clients asked me to be part of a large, well-paying project, and now that the project is over my earnings have settled back into a more typical range.

I would be very happy if I earned the same amount of money in 2017 as I did in 2015—that is to say, around $60,000. I’m setting myself the stretch goal of earning $70,000.

If I did earn $60,000, by the way, here’s how it would divvy up:

  • Taxes would get 25 percent, or $15,000.
  • Savings would get 10 percent, or $6,000.
  • I’d want another $5,500 for my Roth IRA.
  • That would leave me with $33,500 in my checking account, which, after you account for $24,000 in living costs ($2,000 per month) would leave me with $9,500 for growing my business, going on travel, buying books, getting my hair cut, making charitable donations, etc. All of that stuff cost me $11,000 last year, so I’ll either need to earn a bit more or cut back on some expenses.


Let’s start with some stats:

These stats don’t necessarily mean that I’m doing the best possible work I can do, there’s always room for growth in terms of writing and interacting online, but you can also look at these numbers and say “okay, I’m essentially at the top of my game.”

I want to stay that way in 2017. I’m very happy with my freelancing career, and I’d like to keep working and writing for as long as possible. I’m in my fifth year as a freelance writer, and will pass the six-year mark right at the end of 2017.

But before I hit that milestone, I’ll have hit another huge career milestone:

The Biographies of Ordinary People, Vol. 1: 1989–2000, forthcoming Summer 2017.

(That was a really soft announcement that I’m going to be publishing a book this year, and there’ll be a larger announcement later, and if you want to know more here’s the TinyLetter where I’ll share relevant news like pre-order dates.)

This is a really huge deal for me. Expect a big ol’ post coming up about the finances of independent book publishing, and why I chose to go indie over traditional publishing, and all of the money details you could ever imagine.

But until then, know that I am thinking of my 2017 career in two parts: the freelancing half and the publishing half.


I’m still committed to doing things in 2017, and I’m not even sure what they’re going to be and I’m not sure what’s going to be asked of me (or of all of us), but I am calling my reps and making donations and later this month I’ll be participating in the Womxn’s March on Seattle, since I won’t be flying across the country to the Women’s March on Washington.

At this point I’m mostly doing what other people say I should do, like the weekly action items from Wall of Us, and I’m just assuming and/or trusting that these are the right actions to be taking. But it seems like some of the actions work, like the phone calls that got the GOP to back down on eliminating the Office of Congressional Ethics, so… I’ll keep acting.

Hey, a Bunch of People Called Their Representatives in Congress, and It Actually Worked!


Last week I realized that, by the end of 2017, I’ll have lived in Seattle longer than I’ve lived in any other place as an adult. It doesn’t feel like it. In many ways I still feel like I’m new here.

But I have a neighborhood now, and friends up and down the West Coast whom I visit regularly (because why not treat the entire West Coast, or at least the Cascadia area, as one giant city), and I’m becoming more active in the writing and arts community.

So my resolution is… more of that. Keep putting down roots. Keep investing in friendships and relationships. (It’s going to hurt to have to tear all these roots up if this city gets too expensive, but, you know, better to have loved and lost.)


This is going to sound like the most frivolous resolution of all, and it’s about vanity as much as health, but: I’m getting back into Gorilla Workouts for 2017. (I actually started in December 2016, and I can already tell the difference.)

I used to do Gorilla Workouts nearly every night, and I even wrote a piece for Boing Boing about how it “transformed my body,” and then I stopped doing them and switched to that New York Times seven-minute workout thing, and lost so much of the physical definition that I had picked up on the Gorillas.

The Gorilla Workout helped me transform my body

So yeah. Muscles are fun, and I miss the number of push-ups and sit-ups I used to be able to do.


Last year I wrote about how I was going to buy a new sofa in 2017, and a new mattress, and maybe a new coat, and I need to replace all of my linens, and… when I’m thinking about what I really want out of this year, “a new sofa” is on the very bottom of the list.

One Year With Ikea’s Second-Cheapest Sleeper Sofa

I know it will cost less than $1,000. I know that as soon as I get it I will say “I should have done this six months ago.” But I just want other things more, like money for traveling—and I already wrote that I might need to cut back my expenses this year, depending on how much I earn.

So who knows about the stuff. I’ve lived with the stuff I have for a while now. We’ll see what happens, which is really all we can say about this year.

This story is part of The Billfold’s “Resolve” series.

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