Friday, April 15, 2011

Halfway Through April: The Tax Man Cometh

So, here we are, halfway through April.  How is National Poetry Month treating you?  Are your taxes done?

I have a more low-key National Poetry Month going on.  I'm not writing a poem a day.  I went back through my poetry notebooks and decided that while I had learned a lot from attempting it the past two years, I didn't end up with a surplus of poems that I wouldn't have written otherwise--but I did end up with more haiku than I would have written otherwise.  So, I continue with my goal for the year to write a poem, a finished poem as opposed to an attempt, each week.

I'm not reading a book of poems each day, but I'm reading a book a week for a review and a phone interview.  I'm finding this so enriching that I might continue.  Or maybe once a month?  I've found it helpful knowing that someone else is doing it too; do I need the accountability to keep up this practice?  Anyone want to create a reading schedule with me for the rest of the year?

I'm jealous of all the poetry events that other people are attending.  Ah well.  I've seen Emma Trellis read.  That was a treat. There are all sorts of other events, especially around Miami, but I have to balance work and spouse and church and creative projects and upcoming retreat.

Today my book group discusses the book of poems written by one of our members!  How exciting.  Afterwards, I'm going to the Girl's Club Gallery for an artist discussion.  It makes for a long day, but I want to attend one of these events.

On Tuesday, April 26, at noon, we're doing a Favorite Poem event at school.  We're offering a light lunch and hoping that people come with favorite poems.  If not, I will have a few anthologies and let people find a favorite for the day.

And I finish National Poetry Month by heading to the mountains for the Create in Me retreat.  It's not too late to join us.  And for those of you who like doing all kinds of artsy craftsy activities, it's a great way to try things.  More info here.

And finally, taxes.  This is not the first year that I filed as a writer, in addition to my day job, but it is the first year that it made much of a difference.  If I had one piece of advice, it would be to keep track of your mileage.  You may think you're not going to make money in a tax year, but you never know when you'll get a call from someone who says, "Hey, we like your blog.  Would you write for us?  We'll pay you" or "Hey, we like that blog piece.  Could you turn it into an article for our magazine?  We'll pay you."

And while you're keeping track of mileage, keep those receipts from all those meals out, a tip I learned from the tax accountant husband of a writer friend.  You go out to eat with friends, you talk about your writing projects--suddenly that meal is tax deductible.

It all adds up, and while for me, it hasn't yet meant that I can quit my regular job that gives us not only an income but health insurance, it's a nice bonus.

This might sound a bit new-agey to you, but if you start thinking of yourself as a writer, the universe might reward you with more writing gigs/income/recognition.  One way to start thinking of yourself as a writer is to use the tax code to your advantage.  I'm not a tax lawyer or an accountant, but those people exist, should you want to fully explore the tax code and deduct part of your study or the electric bill used to power your computer.  Still, some deductions are easy, once you get into the habit of keeping receipts and recording your mileage.

So, start a folder or an envelope.  See where you are by the time that you prepare next year's taxes.  May you be happily surprised!

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