Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Behind the Gun

I'm late. It doesn't matter that I have good excuses: nasty flu virus that went into bronchitis in February, business travel during the first two weeks of March. Good excuses that kept me from being as productive as I should have been during February and March.

Am I talking about writing? No. Virus or no, travel or no, I'm right on track on my writing schedule for the current Kelly Flynn knitting mystery, due in June. No, no. . .I'm talking about the odious winter assignment that most of us have to do between January and April of every year: income taxes.

I started off well. The Super Bowl provided the perfect opportunity to sort through the enormous amount of receipts, credit card statements, invoices, etc, etc that I'd collected as a result of "doing business as a writer" during 2008. I half-heartedly watched the game, paid attention to all the commercials, and managed to sort all the receipts into various categories and nice, neat piles on my family room loveseat. (Hey, we all have filing systems. Furniture helps in sorting).

Then February arrived and brought nasty viruses blowing in the wind. Believe me, it was all I could do to keep up with my writing schedule during the day. I had zero energy left at night to peruse credit card statements and categorize. Then March came and I was planning for then off to Hawaii and Left Coast Crime. By the time I returned it was mid-March. My energies went into getting back into my fiction-writing rhythm. First things, first. The writing always comes first.

So----that brought me up to last weekend when I finally had to bite the tax prep bullet. I looked at the calendar and gasped. Tomorrow is March 31st. Yikes. Two weeks until Tax Day, April 15th. Now, like everyone else who has procrastinated---I have to buckle down. I had a little time Saturday afternoon. And I spent most of Sunday afternoon and early evening getting back to business. You can't really hurry this tax prep. It takes a while to gather and sort, catergorize, and make sense of it all.

And I always keep pretty detailed records of all those writing expenses. That's part of running a business. As a self-employed writer, I file the same tax forms that everyone else uses who runs a small business---hairdressers, mechanics, plumbers, consultants. All of us use a Schedule C, which demands a detailed listing of all revenues and expenses. Believe me, Uncle Sam wants to know EVERYTHING. So----this is not quick work.

So----my evenings from now to April 14th are spoken for---as are the weekends, during the day. I'll have to escape and have fun at night or I'll go crazy.

How about you folks? How're you doing on your taxes? Have you filed already? Still working on them? Throwing in the towel and heading for Argentina? Tell us.