“Sky gravid with precipitate disaster”: Finances and the freelancer

Sky gravid with precipitate disaster.” My, my. Our man Collin certainly has a way with words, hasn’t he? Nevertheless, he’s still starving right along with the rest of us wordsmiths, though not as successfully as some.

But he does understand the kind of lifestyle where the sky is always falling and so what? That’s just the way things are.

We have a buddy, a felllow scrivener, who shall remain nameless, who fled Bangkok’s gravid skies to earn actual money as a newspaper subeditor in a small Gulf state which shall also remain nameless. Not so long ago he revealed the fact he’d scored, in addition to his regular duties, the “personal finance” column in this paper. This quickly did easy money go to his head.

I assumed he’d work longer term towards some book along the lines of Yeah, Yeah—Warren Buffet: But This Is the Way It’s Really Done. The kind of stuff I understand. Good, gritty financial lore such as, if I jingle when I jump, I’m covered for my next drink.© And so a generous impulse led me to offer the following wisdom for his column:

Investment plans should be relevant to lifestyle and flexible enough to ride the crests and troughs of life as we find it, as the following anecdote illustrates. (Warren Buffet is also prone to this kind of thing, I believe—the anecdotes, I mean, not this specific advice, which is mine.)

Years ago in Montreal, a flatmate and I built bookshelves from planks salvaged from a building site supported on artful arrangements of empty Molson’s Export Ale 12-packs. This very functional and decorative facility nicely complemented our big basement flat in the heart of the city’s most bohemian quarter. When we had money, the bookcase would sprawl across the living room wall, rising towards the ceiling as it bore the weight of our combined libraries. When money ran low, the empties were readily converted to cash at the local grocer’s so we could buy more beer.

And visitors could judge at a glance our financial situation by the Molson’s Index. The more the floor became strewn with books, a scree of books against the wall, the more friends would see they should come bearing the elements of next season’s bookcases.

Thus even the lowly beer bottle may represent a flexible asset, providing for essential needs come rain or shine.

Exactly the kind of thing a personal finance column needs. But then—before our man with the salary even had a chance to consider this nugget—he lost the column. This, despite the fact his own initial offerings, he tells me, were just as respectful of personal wealth and efforts to hoard it, and possibly ahead of their time besides.

Some things are to be taken seriously, it seems. And striving for affluence ranks right up there with God, country and quality sex (as measured by the minute and a hardness scale ranging from marshmallow to “I’ve got a plum on I could drive through an oaken table,” hence all the spam spilling out of my Inbox).

Freelance writers and money? I refer you to Collin’s post of 19 June, where he quotes Schopenhauer in this regard.

Do you reckon Collin reads Schopenhauer, or did he find this stuff scribbled on a bathroom wall somewhere?

Note: The “nameless scrivener” has a new edition of his latest book on the market, this one bearing a blurb from Paul Theroux, who, to the best of my knowledge, is not the writer’s mother, even though, in this instance, he kind of sounds like he is.