Trouble with Numbers by @JanalynVoigt

One Writer’s Trouble with Numbers (or How God Knew Which Husband to Give Me)

It’s not uncommon for a writer to be proficient in English but challenged when it comes to numbers. I say this in my defense because I’m still living down some stories. The most famous one happened when a writing retreat group member volunteered to pick me up on the way to our San Juan Island retreat. That’s when I learned it’s possible to confuse house numbers with street numbers. Fortunately, we made our ferry on time.

I once played a math maven in a community theater production. Really. Having performed in theater since childhood, I prided myself on memorizing my lines early and well. But not even to save my life could I remember the complicated mathematical formulas I was supposed to spout. Opening night had me clinging tightly to the clipboard my character carried throughout the play. Care to guess why?

God knew who to give me as a husband. The theory that opposites attract plays out in my marriage. You see, my husband is an accountant and personal investment manager; in other words, a numbers guy. For continuing education credits he studies subjects like tax preparation, annuities, and estate planning–all topics that make my eyes cross. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for my husband’s help with my writing accounts, but imagine being married to your accountant and tax man. 

I try not to be a pain but I find keeping track of mileage tough. It only takes a moment to jot down your starting mileage. Why, then, do I have so much trouble finding that moment? I will either forget and drive off or remember and have a pen but no paper or paper and no pen. The process has to be repeated when you reach your destination, and then again when you return home. It’s not hard for a creative individual to feel persecuted by numbers.

One of the elements of a writing life is the need to price your books for sale at various events. I have to calculate a profit for myself but also take into account the tax rate (which varies by location) and the percentage paid to the organization sponsoring the event. This means I have to recalculate to find a sales figure for each new event. Well, all right, my husband does, but I have to bend my mind around his calculations in order to make an intelligent pricing decision. This is akin to going to the dentist for me, but being a professional and also a grown up, I power through it.

As a writer who finds numbers challenging, I’m not alone. I recently sold copies of DawnSinger (Tales of Faeraven 1) at a Christmas bazaar alongside a writing friend (who shall remain nameless). We split the cost of the table among four local authors, kept sales records, and then calculated the amount to give the school hosting the event. This became a lot more complicated than it might seem because we had to first remove taxes to come up with the school’s percentage but then put them back to calculate each author’s earnings. My husband was at home studying some left-brained continuing ed course or other, so with much laughter at our math-challenged selves, we came up with the necessary figure to pay the school its share. Well all right, she did, but I was called upon to check her figures. Since the instructions she gave me on how to use her cell phone’s calculator had my eyes glazing over, I decided to tally things manually.

We decided to trust the calculator.

©2013 by Janalyn Voigt

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Written by Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt

As an author I love to escape with readers into creative worlds of fiction in three genres: medieval epic fantasy, historical fiction, and romantic mystery. My aim is to make this website an immersive experience for readers. Care to join us?

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