Money. Goddamnit.

Just wrote a long letter to a family friend asking for advice on raising a small bit of money to keep me afloat until I can finish Stikki.me. Now it’s 3 am and I’m sitting here, spooked, and hoping the power company will let me make payments before shutting off the lights.

I’ve thought about going the Kickstarter/IndieGoGo route again the way I did with Dbasr, but I feel weird about it. I haven’t abandoned Dbasr, not by a long shot, but it was just too much work for me to do by myself without having enough money to pay the bills. All the code is sitting there waiting to get picked up again. I started playing with Stikki as a way to earn money to work on Dbasr, and that’s still very much the plan. But I’m afraid people just think I took the money and did nothing with it — which is, of course, not true. I’ve busted my ass on Dbasr, the way I’ve busted ass on Stikki. I am grateful for the support I got. It just wasn’t enough to devote myself full-time to finishing that project yet.

I feel really guilty about that, actually. But you can ask my wife  — there were times I worked on Dbasr for literally twenty-four hours straight without sleep, and I do almost the same with Stikki. But I’m not a trust fund kid and I don’t have any financial reserves. When the bills come due, I have to stop working on these things and find paying work, and it’s hard to balance paying and personal work, especially when you’re just married. When I was 21 I probably could have just done an eight hour gig and then holed up and written code until I passed out, but I can’t do that now. I barely sleep as it is; I usually go to bed around four or five am and wake up around ten thirty. And I think Rosalie enjoys it when I occasionally pop my head up and actually interact with her and acknowledge her existence, instead of simply staring at the laptop and muttering darkly about APIs and MVC framework. She also enjoys it when I take showers and shave instead of rolling out of bed and onto the computer.

(In fact, I think the combination of poor hygiene, the stream of swearing about apparent gibberish like “JOIN queries” and “consumer keys” and the straggly beard makes me resemble nothing so much as a random crazy street person, except I have a laptop instead of a shopping cart. Which is no good for Rosalie’s nerves, I know.)

I just keep hoping if I work and work and work I’ll get Stikki finished and money will start coming in. But the last two weeks have fucked me. I couldn’t work, thanks to first the anxiety attacks and then the Xanax zombiedom from trying to chemically defuse the anxiety attacks. I don’t have any money left. I’ve been eyeing my guitars, trying to figure out if I could pawn them for enough to pay the power bills. (Short answer: no. They’re not exactly high-end musical instruments.) I need to work on the two paying projects I’ve got right now basically for sixteen hours a day until the end of the month to barely cover our rent. Which also does my anxiety problem no good, nor does it particularly please my wife.

The worst thing about all of this is that I am absolutely, utterly convinced that I can make Stikki profitable enough to be happy. I’ve done the math, and unless I am staggeringly stupid I can earn enough from advertising to pay the bills within just a couple of months. I can see the Promised Land, where you don’t sit up at three am worrying about bills. I just can’t reach it.

Feel free to ignore this, by the way, and if I sound like I’m whining, well, yeah, I probably am. I’m just tired, and I need help and I don’t know where to find it or even how to ask.

I’m going to go to bed and try to finish the last Harry Potter novel now.

Listen

Sleepwalking

So I’ve been under the weather recently.

About two weeks ago, I started having a weird sensation in my chest. It felt like my heart was leaping, the way it does when you go over the curve on a rollercoaster or get startled. My heart would do a strange thump and it would be as if my breath were slightly knocked out of me for a second. It made me feel really weak. No, truth be told, every time it happened, it felt like I was about to keel over and die.

As an overweight man who smokes like a chimney and whose exercise mainly consists of hauling his fat ass and a big laptop bag from home to one of two nearby coffee shops, I was rather concerned, as you might imagine. I ignored it for about three days, and then Rosalie insisted I go to the doctor. So we went to a local cheap clinic, where a nurse put an EKG on me for about sixty seconds before disappearing for forty-five minutes. Finally a doctor showed up with a laptop in his hand, where he — I kid you not — appeared to be Googling my symptoms.

He told me it was heart palpitations and not to worry about it, that 50% of the population gets them at some time in their lives and that it wasn’t a big deal. He told me it was basically a slowed-down panic attack, caused by stress and anxiety. He told me to stop drinking five big coffees every day. That was it. (Except for discovering that I’ve managed to lower my blood pressure from “dangerously high” to “only slightly higher than normal”, which is good.) He said there wasn’t any medication that could help me.

Being slightly suspicious of a doctor who Googles your symptoms while you’re in the fucking room with him, I managed to acquire some Xanax. (No, I’m not going to tell you where. No, I’m not going to hook you up, either. Don’t even ask me.) I reasoned that Xanax is supposed to help with stress — maybe it would help with this.

And it has, by and large: when I take the Xanax, my heart stops doing dubstep beats in my chest. The tradeoff is that it drops my IQ by 50%. I feel like I’m sleepwalking, or like I’m underwater. This is not a good position for a professional computer programmer to be in.

I think maybe I’ve got it sorted now; I haven’t taken any Xanax today and for the first time in nearly two weeks, I was mentally and physically capable of working.

Which has put me in a bad position, because I’m being paid right now for projects by the hour. So I’m playing catch-up. The problem with that, of course, is that it’s nerve-wracking and stressful…which causes my heart to get floppity again, which makes me want to take Xanax so I don’t feel like I’m dying all day, which makes me retarded, et cetera et cetera.

On the upside, I got the basic framework of Stikki.me’s API built tonight, which means the guys I’m working with on the iOS app can start developing it soon, which means one of the biggest assets of Stikki — the ability to get alerts when you’re near a stikki you’ve set an alarm for — will be available. And that’s game changing.

I’ve also discovered that the prices I’m targeting for advertising on Stikki are less than 10% of what major competitors are charging, which makes me think I’ll be able to drum up ad business relatively easily. Since I have no investors or staff, I don’t need a massive number of advertisers. Put it another way: if I can get 20 advertisers paying my rate monthly — 20 advertisers on a service that works globally — my rent and power bill are paid. 100 and I can devote myself to this full time quite comfortably. 1000 and I’m in that staggering realm of “upper middle class” income.

If you believe in God, seriously, pray for me. I don’t think it’ll actually do anything celestially, but I can use all the good wishes I can handle right now. Because money is tight and I’m kind of freaked out.

Which is making my heart go pitter-pat, and not in a good way. :-)

Listen

Current Listening 1-13-2011

Listen