The Financial Lesson from Teaching Highland Dance

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Yup. That's me, as a teenager in Estes Park, Colorado.

Yup. That’s me, as a teenager in Estes Park, Colorado.

When I was seven, my mother signed me up for Scottish Highland dance lessons. When I was twelve, my mother passed her teaching exam, found a few students, and I began helping her teach. When I was sixteen, I passed my Associate’s exam in Scottish Highland from BATD. In my early twenties, I passed my full member’s exam.

Highland dancing has been a large part of my life for many years. Although I’m not actively teaching anymore, growing up with the Scottish society affected my life, even my writing life, in many ways. It’s why I chose the pseudonym Inverness. (My real surname is Fredricksen. If you’re in the dance community, you might know me as Mary Lillie’s daughter. ♥ ) I have more than a passing fondness for men in kilts. I collect Loch Ness Monsters, although since I now live in Vermont I have quite a few Champys too.

Teaching has always been a labor of love. In the 80’s, my mother paid me $5 each week to help her. The money was nice, but even more memorable was our trip from Longmont up to Estes Park each week, then down the mountain to Fort Collins, and back home. I never added up the mileage we put on the car. I never balanced the books to see whether we were making a profit for a handful of students in Estes and another handful in Fort Collins. I’m pretty sure it rarely came out even close to even.

In college, I used dance teaching as my way of earning pocket money. I was definitely coming out ahead, since I never had to leave Laramie, Wyoming. It was nowhere near a living wage, but I loved it.

When I was a nanny, I found a few more students, but at that time I had to travel around southern Connecticut to reach them. Again, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t charging enough money for the lessons to even break even, much less make a profit.

It was an expensive hobby.

If I treated my writing career like I treated my Scottish Highland career, I’d have no name as a writer. I’d just be a housewife with an expensive hobby. I don’t want writing to be an expensive hobby. I have made it my career.

The first few stories I had published were either charitable or for groups I wanted to support and be part of, even though they didn’t pay. For a new author seeking recognition and a path to publication, that was appropriate. The next few stories earned me a token amount.

I have yet to earn more than a token.

But it’s not an expensive hobby.

It’s the boot camp of my career.

I have finished the initial revisions on my Polyamorous SciFi Romance from NaNoWriMo 2013. I’m setting it aside to read The King by Tiffany Reisz. The theory is, when writing about jalapeños, it’s good to read about habaneros. My story will probably be categorized as erotic romance, as the sexual relationships between the characters are key to the plot of the story. The Original Sinners books are BDSM erotica and very steamy! But Tiffany has a way of making me sympathize with and identify with her characters, even if I’m at a loss to name a single thing we have in common. These books are extremely well-written, which is not only enjoyable but makes excellent brain-food in preparations for the next round of edits.

My ROW80 goals?

Good. I’m working every night. I finished Revision 01 on two 75k+ novels in record time…less than a week. However, since a few tangly problems were identified, I need to do a Revision 02 before they goes out to beta readers. By the way… if you’re interested in beta reading two 75k+ novels centering around a polyamorous love story, let me know! I have several betas who identify with the polyamory community. It would be nice to have some other betas with various different backgrounds, including (as Tiffany would call it) ‘vanilla.’ 🙂

For the next few days or week, my ‘writing-related-work’ will consist largely of reading. It is something that has diminished in my life at the exact time it should have increased, and I need to work on that. More importantly, this reading material will put me in a good mind frame for working out the issues between revisions one and two.

Question for the week:

When do you use beta readers? After the rough draft? After several revisions?

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About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
This entry was posted in ROW80, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Financial Lesson from Teaching Highland Dance

  1. jnfr says:

    After the draft and first edit by me. Then betas, then more edits by me. Then a final polish and proofread by a professional copyeditor.

  2. Beth Camp says:

    I enjoyed that backstory about your teaching Highland dance which shared good memories and lessons learned. Only on retiring from teaching did I become serious about my writing, and I feel privileged to write each day. Re the beta reader question, when I feel truly finished with all my revisions and cannot look for another misplaced comma or plot hole, I send it out. I read recently somewhere of the distinction between ‘developmental’ or structural editing (when the editor reads deeply into story-writing strategies like plot, characterization, story arc, etc), and copy editing (proofreading for typos, grammar and punctuation). I like to work with 2-3 beta readers for a variety of reader reaction. So, depending on their experience, I prefer as deep a response as possible. Have a good week ahead — reading!

    • I was also teaching Spreadsheets and Databases at the tech college until this year. Although I’m not raking in the cash, I needed to take that step so I could concentrate on my writing. Fortunately, my husband’s job can take care of us.

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