Songs for the Struggling Artist


The Benefits of No One Caring About Your Work

When a friend of a friend asked me for some advice about starting a blog and Patreon, I told her the truth – that most writers struggle to find an audience and the internet is largely indifferent to our work. I realized after I hit send, that this might not be the kind of advice a writer might want to hear. I mean, I know I expected that the internet would fall at my feet and deliver me instant recognition when I first began writing and posting music there. I think imagined that there were people who spent their days just running their fishermen’s nets through the internet’s wide oceans looking for gems. This is what I thought despite the fact that I never used the internet that way myself, nor did I know anyone else who did. But I suppose hope springs eternal? Anyway, there are no gem finding internet fishing boats and putting things up on the internet is largely like going outside in a thunderstorm and shouting your latest sonnet. It’s not likely to be heard or even noticed. Very few people, besides the ones closest to you, are likely to care about a piece you put up on the internet.

This might seem harsh but there are benefits to no one giving any fucks about your work. I mean. Let me pause for a second to say that a lot of people care about my work now. Not all of it, for sure – but I have been at this long enough that I am no longer operating in total anonymity on the internet in most places. I don’t want to underplay my own success. But I do have a lot of things on the internet that in all the likelihood no one has ever seen. There are over a thousand posts on my Hamlet blog that no one has ever clicked on – or at least that have never registered as viewed. They’re mostly the tiny words, which are actually my favorite posts – but no one has a reason to click on them, so they remain as invisible as any other neglected post on the internet. And I have a following. That Hamlet blog has over 107,000 views altogether. But…even so.

But I was here to tell you why it’s good when no one cares. It’s good because you can really grow in peace. The pressure of publishing where a person MIGHT see it means that you’re working on your writing (or your art or whatever) and growing it and developing it outside of what can be a bright spotlight.

It is exciting when posts go a little viral. It is a roller coaster to watch stats and comments roll in. But it is also a distraction from writing. When no one cares what you write, you can develop and share your own voice without worrying so much about what people are saying about it.

And in retrospect, I’m very glad that no one was reading the very first blogs I wrote here. They weren’t that good yet. I think being out here all the time without too much push back has led me to discover my own particular style and confidence in my voice.

There are a LOT of gems in my internet corner and many of them have never been caught in anyone’s net. This one is still one of my favorites and it never got the attention I felt it warranted. And I love this little bit from The Hamlet Project that has only two views. But somehow even though not everything gets seen – the gems do sort of add up. And occasionally one will get caught up in a random google search and become accidentally popular. For example, I tossed off a piece called How to Congratulate an Artist a couple of years ago and now it gets a handful of views every day. I could not possibly explain it to you. It’s not because it’s a great piece. It’s not. It’s just accidentally google-able and the more people click on it, the more people click on it. I guess google is the internet fisherman.

And all of the things do add up to a rather substantial body of work, which is maybe the biggest benefit. I have written a LOT of things and the evidence is right there on the internet. Some gems, some fish, some old boots. But a substantial body of work, regardless. Benefit #1.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Want to be one of the jewels of the ocean?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a coffee on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis



How to Help Artists the Most

As a self-described struggling artist™, when the pandemic struck us and people suddenly started worrying about struggling artists, many folks thought of me. I appreciated it very much. It was quite remarkable to suddenly receive support I didn’t explicitly ask for.

But as a Struggling Artist™ (just kidding, it’s not trademarked,) I have felt some ambivalence about the resources for us that I’m seeing emerge. The bulk of them are emergency funds and they are incredibly necessary for so many people. I bow down to those who are raising those funds. But one thing I’m thinking about a lot is how few artists I know who would actually apply for these sorts of resources. Everyone I’ve talked with about them is leaving them for someone who is in real need.

See, what constitutes an emergency for many artists is fairly extreme. Is it just not having the income to pay rent? Because we’ve all been there before. Is that really an emergency? It is. Sure. But it’s a familiar one.

There were also a lot of institutions out there talking the talk of raising money for artists but essentially paying themselves and/or making artists prove their worthiness for the money raised. The best resources for artists seem to be the ones generated by other artists who are streamlining their processes dramatically. There are also some supports emerging from the unions and guilds. What’s sticky about all this is that the people who can make the best cases for their emergency funding are people who lost something. The actors who suddenly lost their Broadway gig, the playwright who had their show cancelled. Those are clear and obvious things to redress.

But as an artist who did not have a job to be fired from or a production to lose, the loss for me is just sort of normal. Sure, I can’t do some of my day jobs – but for the most part the emergency happened several years ago. I’ve already lost many things. My time for emergency funding has passed. I think there are many of us in this state. Artists who were already living on the edge, who already had our fall.

It’s like, we’ve been compelled to walk a tightrope for all these years and suddenly, now that there’s an earthquake, everyone’s like, “Oh, here’s a little net.” Not a particularly robust net – just a net that might allow you to fall without getting smashed to pieces in one go. And you have to search for the net store and fill out a bunch of paperwork and very possibly have to sit on the phone with a broken unemployment system for hours at a time. And the funding you might have been eligible for as a freelance self-employed person has already run out, thanks to corporations like Shake Shack and Harvard who bogarted the money.

And of course, of course, we’re grateful for the net but also it would have been nice to not have had to walk a tightrope in the first place. And in my case, I already fell. So asking for a net now feels silly. I’ve been knitting one that works down on the ground for years. I’m okay. Not amazing – but I’ve had some surprising nets appear in the last couple of years so I’m okay.

For a brief moment, it looked possible for this country or state to do the things that would have helped provide a real net for everyone, not just artists. They could have canceled rent. They could have provided a UBI. But those ideas seemed to have vanished as quickly as they bubbled up. The real relief has not come, so now it’s emergency grants, left and right. Artists are applying for $500 here and $500 there, which will be helpful in the short term but will only break the inevitable fall.

I saw one resource that would have provided a substantial amount of money to an artist. It stipulated that it was for an artist in “dire financial need” and it made me think about how sticky “dire financial need’ Is. How dire is dire? Some things are obvious. There are those without health insurance or who can’t afford groceries. We know that’s dire. But I know artists who are in a cold panic about what they will do after they’ve paid this month’s rent out of their savings – but, of course, they have a savings. Had. They won’t for long. But meanwhile, someone who’s unable to make payments on their summer cottage may see their situation as dire. Dire is relative and a lot of artists live so close to dire already we don’t necessarily know it when we see it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the emergency funds that have sprung up and how reluctant many artists are to take advantage of them. I remember reading an article about artist housing and some jerkwad commented on it, railing about how artists were always looking for a hand out. It made me mad then and it makes me madder now – because not only are artists generally not looking for hand-outs, many can barely be convinced to take them when they are offered with the explicit purpose of helping them. In my experience, artists just want to be paid for their work, like anyone. We literally just want someone to pay us for the thing we do. We want to be paid for our writing, our performing, our music, our art. We would like for folks to buy our book or our album or (when we’re not in a pandemic) tickets for our shows. But the problem is, while most people like and care about art, they’re not inclined to pay for it. So – even now, in this moment where art that can be enjoyed at home is the thing that is making most people’s quarantines bearable, most of it is free.

So artists, not inclined to take a hand-out are languishing, unpaid, for work that is the lifeblood of the culture. The amount of creativity bubbling up out of our sudden removal from capitalist everyday life is really quite staggering and beautiful. I mean – the guy who made a restaurant for squirrels? Come on. No one would have ever given him a grant to make such a thing. But many an artist is too panicked about survival to create a squirrel restaurant and emergency funding to a handful of them who already had access to some resources isn’t going to solve it.

I keep thinking about this funding scheme invented by some artists who have already achieved notable success. They are creating content that people will apparently pay to watch (will they, though?) and then those artists select other artists to receive the money. It is a nice idea. Except it definitely feels like a way for the cool art kids to pass on some resources to the just about to be cool kids, like the kids who have a couple of fancy credits but not a Broadway show yet. Listen, I’m cool but not the kind of cool that Taylor Mac is likely to give a 10k grant to. That grant is def going to the latest indie cabaret star most like Taylor Mac. It just is. And I mean no disrespect to Taylor Mac. If I were in charge of selecting art, I would be more likely to fund the work most like Emily Rainbow Davis, no matter how hard I tried not to. So – the resources are swirling around the places there were resources before, of course. And that makes sense. We can’t fix the whole field while the whole field is benched, can we? Can we? I doubt it. I’d like it if we could. But I doubt.

So how can you really support artists at this moment? You could donate to an emergency fund. There are a few that really do deliver such things. I am a fan of the Indie Theatre Fund and personally know an artist who received funds from them quickly. But the best possible way to support an artist is to pay them to do what they do. If they have a book for sale, buy a few. Get one for you and a couple for your friends. If they have music for sale, buy a few albums. If they have a Patreon, sign up to be a part of it. If they make visual art, buy some! If they’re a performing artist and you can hire them for some video work or voice work, do that. Or you can always follow the advice of Raja Feather Kelly and just ask them what they need.

And, listen, if you don’t like the artist’s work, but you like them, maybe buy their work anyway. Buy it and give it to someone you know who will appreciate it. Hell, I’ll take it. I want everyone’s art! Everyone seems to always be making decisions about whether art is good or bad and they’re very sketchy about paying for art unless it pleases them precisely. Generally, people won’t donate to fundraising campaigns unless they’re really sold on the project. I think they feel like their dollars are the arbiters of taste. Just donate. You don’t have to think your friend’s project is the best thing in the world. We don’t have any national funding for individual artists; sometimes fundraising campaigns are our only hope. You don’t have to like everything to support one.

I feel like sometimes people treat art like it’s furniture and they won’t buy anything unless it absolutely fits with the rest of the house. They won’t buy the book, or the album or the fund the project if it isn’t exactly to their taste. And yet the same person will worry that an artist won’t be able to afford to buy groceries this month and donate to some arts organization that will use it to keep the lights on at their institution. If you want to really and truly support an artist, pay one for something they do. It’s that simple.

For me, there are a multitude of ways to do that. That’s the net I’ve been knitting. Patreon is the frontline. There, my patrons pay me for these blogs and the audio version of the blogs that is the podcast. And, at the moment, I’m fundraising for the audio drama podcast I’m making. This is my big work right now and it is what is allowing me to pay a bunch of OTHER artists to do what they do best at a time when there is not a lot of work on offer. Will it buy me groceries? Not until I’ve paid everyone else. But, yes, eventually, if I can get the whole thing made, it could also buy me groceries. Not yet, though. If you’re worried about me eating, hit me up on Patreon, PayPal or Kofi. But I’m fine. I have a net with Patreon but not everyone has been knitting all this time. That’s why it’s not a terrible time to be this Struggling Artist™ – because I’ve been around this work-drying-up-block a few times and I know how to show new folks around the neighborhood. I also know how to help them and now you do, too. (Buy their art!)

Like this photo? I downloaded it from Pixabay for free but you could pay this photographer for their work. My goal is to pay for the photos I use in the blog one day – when my net is a wee bit less porous.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to be a part of my net?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat.

https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a coffee on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis

 



All the Times I Wrote My Last Thing

As I thumbed through the first draft of the zine that I make every year for my Patreon patrons, I thought “I actually wrote some good stuff this year.” In the same breath, I thought “That’s probably all I have. I’ve written all the best things. The well has run dry. I’ve just been coasting the last month and I don’t see how I could possibly get my mojo back. It was nice while it lasted but all I have left to write are sad documentary posts about the rejections I receive.”

I’d worry that I was in the middle of writer’s block if I hadn’t felt this same way many times before. I have felt this way and then a few months later, wrote something I was very proud of. It is normal, in fact, when you’re not feeling particularly inspired to be convinced that that feeling is permanent and you will never be inspired again. I felt it when I finished my novel. I feel it whenever I finish a play. I feel it about a couple of times a year with the blogs. Every time I write a song, I’m sure it’s the last one. Last year, I wrote a lullaby, brushed off my hands and said, “That was a good one to end on.” But just a few weeks ago, I wrote a song for the year’s final podcast.

I don’t know why this is a pattern. But I don’t think I’m alone in this. The fear of dry wells may have something to do with respecting the capriciousness of the muses. They’re not always going to show up and they’re not going to always give you your best. Sometimes I write good things. Sometimes I write mediocre things. On some bad days I write bad things. I show up at the page every day and write something whether I feel inspired or not. Sometimes something that I think is pretty routine catches fire in someone else’s imagination and goes. Sometimes I write something that I think is marvelous and it disappears like a puff of smoke.

I know it is not up to me to decide what is good or bad or even what comes out of me. I just write and release. I make the paper airplanes and float them out the window. Sometimes they fly because I’ve expertly crafted them but most times they fly because a powerful breeze appeared at just the right moment. I won’t stop making my planes just because I don’t feel inspired. I often feel that the plane in my hands will be my last…but it never is. I’ve made enough Final Planes to know that I probably won’t make my final final one until I make my final one, if you know what I mean.

Anyway – if you’re sure your well has run dry and you’ve made your final piece of art, just know that I understand, I sympathize and I don’t believe it for a second. It’s not over til it’s over.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me make some more paper airplanes?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a coffee on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis



Some Rejections and Some Math

Last year, my Medusa play was a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’ Neill Playwrights Conference. Given how establishment the conference is and how anti-establishment my work feels to me, I was shocked to get that far.

Also, last year, my play Errors Before Errors, written for American Shakespeare Center’s Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries contest was chosen for the finals. It ultimately went nowhere but…for a moment, visions of an anachronistic homecoming and a living writer’s wage flashed before my eyes. When I applied to the Eugene O’Neill again, in the fall, I submitted the play that had been (almost) successful at the ASC. It seemed like a good strategy to push forth a previously successful(ish) work. The rejection arrived in the mail and it had not even made the semi-finals. What works for one company does nothing for another.

Also in the mail, I received the expected New Dramatist’s rejection. For my more successful playwriting peers, that is the rejection that tends to sting the hardest. For me, it barely registers – so far outside the circle am I. It could be a life changer, for sure, if it were ever to come to pass. But the rejection was not at all unexpected.

Finally, I learned about The Great Plains Theatre Conference from a local booking agent. I thought maybe she was just talking up her local theatre thing but it turns out the GPTC is pretty prestigious and whatnot. It’s good that I applied but, surprise! I was rejected.

I feel like this rejection post is somewhat unusual in that all of these rejections are for playwriting. Usually, it’s much more of a mix. I don’t know whether I’m concentrating on playwriting more or whether it just shook down this way. I do think the two almost yeses I got last year did push me a little more in this direction. Whether that’s for good or ill, I do not know. I’ll let you know if people suddenly start clamoring for my plays.

And finally – I thought I’d add a little math to these rejection posts – especially since I’m paying for more of my submissions than I used to.

Calculation:

Fees
O’Neill – $35
Great Plains – $10
_______
Total outlay – $45

Patreon payment for this post: $127 (Thank you, Patrons!)
Gain – $82

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections and doing this math? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

The digital distribution is expiring at the end of March, so I’m also raising funds to keep them up. If you’d like to contribute, feel free to donate anywhere but I’m tracking them on Kofi – here: ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis

If you have a particular album you’d like to keep there, let me know!

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Want to help ease the sting of rejection?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



This Is My Motherf—ing Brand

(If the title hasn’t already tipped you off, there will be a great many f-bombs in this post.)

I went to a conference for “creators” and of course there was a session on branding because that’s the world we live in now. I did not attend because that is my motherfucking brand. My brand is that I don’t fucking believe in branding.

You know where we get the idea of branding? From actual white hot branding. Can’t tell the cows apart? Put a brand on their rumps. Whose cow is this? Check the logo burned into its rear. You know WHY branding became a part of advertising? It’s a way to distinguish identical things. Can’t tell the difference between the cans of cola? Put different logos on them. My motherfucking brand is no brand. If you can’t tell who I am without a branding, I can’t help you.

We live in a world of branding now – we talk about things being “on brand” in just regular conversation. Personal Branding is a thing. If you make things or work in any creative capacity, you have probably been encouraged to work on your brand. I know I have.

I understand that it makes sense to create a narrative and/or identity around what you do. I have a mission statement for my theatre company. I suppose you could frame that as a brand (OMG, please don’t) but a mission feels very different to me. As an individual artist, writer, etc – I also operate on a mission basis and not on brand.

I’m pretty sure that the people who support me know that. I’d bet the vast majority of my patrons on Patreon see their support of me as service, as contributions to the greater good – even though, as an individual, I am not tax deductible. (My theatre company is a 501c3, though.)

Since I went to Patreon’s conference a few months ago (the aforementioned conference for creators,) I have been wrestling with the discomfort I feel around the whole enterprise. On one hand, I am awash in gratitude for the structure Patreon provides. By making trusted space for people to support me, it has allowed me to begin to make a living doing what I do. It allows me to be of service to my whole community. That is a thing of beauty. On the other hand, Patreon is kind of Brand Central Station. It is a business that makes its money on the support of people supporting creators/makers/artists. They have been hugely profitable by taking a cut of patron’s generosity.

But everyone does that. Kickstarter. Indiegogo. Crowdrise. Go Fund Me. All of those platforms do the very same. I just raised $2550 on Indiegogo for a project and they took $208.50. Crowdfunding is a big money maker for the owners of those platforms (less so for the people on them.)

When it first started, Patreon pitched itself as a way to support artists – that is, as a kind of service. Now it explains what it does as powering “membership businesses for creators.” I’ve seen this transition in progress – and find myself questioning what it means (because that is my motherfucking brand.) While I am on board for the ongoing support, I do not see myself as a business (or a brand!) I have missions. I have purpose. I’m trying to make art. Not everyone there is.

Patreon is for “creators.” The actual artists I met at PatreCon could be counted on one hand. And I wouldn’t even need all my fingers for the counting.

I did, though, meet a guy who puts casts on people. Not like sculptural casting. No. Casts – like for broken arms or legs but without injury. I mean. No disrespect to Kevin. He was a very nice guy. But he’s not making art.

He is making money, though. Unlike me. Kevin makes money. I make art. I guess that’s my motherfucking brand.

People aren’t giving Kevin their money out of desire to be of service. They give him money so that he’ll put a cast on them or so they can watch a video of him putting a cast on an attractive young woman. There are more Kevins than there are of me. And Patreon makes its money on the Kevins. It also makes its money on the “content creators” like the guy who spearheaded the Gamergate campaign and makes misogynistic harassment videos directed at Anita Sarkeesian.

It doesn’t make much money on art. Art isn’t profitable, folks.

There are exceptions, of course. But in the old days, arts’ unprofitability was why it was something rich folks supported for the public good. Our new ruling class rulers – i.e. the dudes at the head of Silicon Valley companies – don’t support the arts the way the ruling class of old did. Zuckerberg probably doesn’t sit on the board of a ballet company and Tom of Twitter probably isn’t supporting the opera. The head of Patreon probably doesn’t either – despite all the talk of supporting creators. What gets done for the public good anymore?

Do we have to search for our public good in hidden pockets of digital platforms? What are we going to do when there’s no more art – only brands? No more artists, just content creators? No more art scenes, just income generation?

And as lovely as the good people who work at Patreon are (and they are very lovely) their salaries are paid by a cut of all of the patron’s money once a month. It’s more like a bank than a mecca of creativity. I adored every employee I met while at PatreCon AND I have a lot of questions about what all this is for. But then – that IS my motherfucking brand.

For example, at the final talk of conference, the CEO asked for the creators to ask hard questions. The first question was what the company was doing about the Hate still on the platform. (Last I checked the guy who made misogynist harassment videos was making $8k a month on the platform.) The CEO hedged and said they were doing their best but it’s hard, you know, because it’s somebody’s living. The next question was what he planned to do with the money once the shareholders had been repaid. And he said “This is what keeps me up at night.”

And there it is. It’s the profitability concern that keeps him up at night. Not the misogynist hater making his living destroying the livelihoods of women. But about how to raise profits for shareholders. The Second question was the actual answer for the first.
All of that gives me the creeps.
But it is coupled with a charmingly candid conference closing speech and a CEO who makes things and seems to have his heart in the right place even if it fails to deal effectively with misogyny. The creeps are counter balanced by a staff of many bad ass women and everyone just trying to do their best.

I see all that and I really appreciate it but I am twisted up by the questions. Which is, of course, my motherfucking brand.

Digital platforms aren’t neutral. They are businesses. Hopefully we all know that now, after the revelations about Facebook. None of them are perfect. Not even the ones that provide structures for us to survive.

We are all striking a kind of devil’s bargain to continue our lives on line – and possibly off, as well. We know Facebook and Twitter have some major problems but for those of us who still use them, the good outweighs the bad. I’d like for Patreon to be exceptional – to be of real service to artist, to be the true new patronage but I know it’s ultimately most accountable to its share holders.

I know this seems ungrateful – but biting the hand that feeds me is very on brand for me, wouldn’t you say? The thing is, Patreon doesn’t actually do much for me besides process credit cards. They provide the structure that allows people to feel comfortable giving people like me money on a regular basis – which is not nothing. Giving people a way to support me is huge. No one was giving me money once a month before Patreon came in to my life, believe me. And having a platform people trust helps facilitate that. I’m clear that there isn’t any other structure in place that has people’s trust enough to fund me through it.

This whole rant here might lead you to think I’m mad at Patreon but I’m really not. I’m super grateful (in a questioning way.) What I’m mad at is the sidelining of art, the blending of art into commerce, the branding of art and the branding of humans. I’m mad that when future generations look back at art movements of our time, they’re more likely to look at brand evolutions than art revolutions. I’m mad about the branding of culture and the dissolution of art for art’s sake. I’m mad that almost every artist I know feels inadequate about how impossible it is to make a living as an artist. And sure, I’m mad that Patreon, that I thought was an artist driven structure is just a money making content container – made for the management of porn, hate and commerce, like everywhere else on the internet. But I’m not mad at Patreon. It’s just doing like everyone else does.

Patreon is not a non-profit. It’s a business. Currently, it’s a business that provides a structure that allows people to support me, hallelujah. But businesses are not neutral. They exist to make money. Art does not make money. “Content” does. “Content” needs branding. How am I to know which content fits my personal brand if the content doesn’t have on-brand packaging?

And still, I know enough about branding, from just living in these times, breathing this capitalist air, to recognize when I’m falling into branding tropes. I can’t help feeling like not having a fucking brand is just another way to have a brand these days. Like one of those ironic ad campaigns. And what the hell am I selling?

My Patreon page? My second Patreon page that I just launched? I don’t actually think I’m doing a great job at that if that’s it. Though it is sort of on-brand for my Gen X anti-selling selling. Ack! Is there nothing unbranded anymore? Can we not live without labels and brands and logs and such? Is my motherfucking brand really not having a motherfucking brand? How do we shake free of this branded world?

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This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous one on Anchor, click here.

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Did I totally sell you on my motherfucking brand?

Support me. Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a “coffee” at Ko-fi. https://ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis



Something Old and Something New
November 22, 2017, 1:00 am
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , , ,

One of the funny things about spending years applying for (and getting rejected from) things is that you start to see patterns in the application cycles, as well as the rejection cycles. I know when things I have applied for before have had changes in their structure or staff because their timing shifts.

And because of that, I was 99.9999% sure I’d already been rejected by the New Victory Theatre before my friend from there passed along my rejection via Facebook messenger. But, that was the first time I’ve gotten a rejection notice via that platform – so that’s new, even if the rejection is old.

And the Queen’s Council for the Arts, which is an organization I’ve been rejected by in the past, had a new funding opportunity: commissions. And I am really glad to see funding taking this turn – I’d love to see more of that kind of opportunity – even if I did get rejected from this one. (97 applications. 4 receive commissions.) The organization rejecting me is old but the program is new. In any case, I’d love to see the new thing in this rejection drama be a juicy acceptance. But we never really know where that’s coming from.

And since none of the many residencies I’ve applied for have panned out, I’m making my own, with the support of two of my patrons here on Patreon. So – in my Make Your Own Acceptance project, I am in Vancouver now to finally take the time I need to edit my first draft of my novel for young people. I don’t need no stinking official acceptance letters, y’all. (Not true, I’d like a basket of them but this is a great thing, too.)

*Wondering why I’m telling you about all these rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

You can help ease the sting of rejection by becoming my patron on Patreon.

 kaGh5_patreon_name_and_message

Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

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This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Soundcloud, click here.screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



Apparently, Being a Sexist Jerk Pays Well

Perhaps this isn’t news to you. Probably especially not this year. Not in 2017 when we’ve seen one of the biggest sexist jerks around continue to profit on his sexist jerkholery. But… this isn’t about that. This is about a smaller corner of the sexist landscape.

One of my feminist heroes is Anita Sarkeesian who has been making videos at Feminist Frequency since 2009. My personal favorites were her looks at Legos and her explanation of the Bechdel test. (This was before the Bechdel test was common knowledge – an evolution that I suspect that Sarkessian had a hand in.) You may have started to hear about her after her Kickstarter campaign to make videos about women in videogames triggered a terrible hate campaign against her. Then the parade of horrors known as Gamergate began to target her as well.

I recently read an article about her experience of speaking on a panel at a video conference and being harassed in person. There’s a lot to take in in this article – but the thing that shook me rather badly was the fact that two of the leaders of Gamergate and Sarkeesian’s harassers-in-chief both make their living from making videos about their harassment and get their support through Patreon. The article reports that one makes $5000 a month from his videos and the other $3000 a month.

Why did this particular fact shake me? Because I use Patreon, too. I think of it as a noble enterprise providing funding for artists of all kinds, a new patronage. Knowing that the architects of one of the most infamous harassment campaigns in the last few years are receiving support on the same platform that I use makes me incredibly uncomfortable. And the fact that they make six times more than I do at it makes me feel even worse.

The disturbing truth would appear to be that being a sexist harasser is more profitable than being a feminist writer. And it has likely always been thus. Patreon is just highlighting a pattern that has been long established in the culture. It seems like capitalism works really well for sexists. That may be one reason the sexism sticks around.

Also, in the wake of recent events, it has come to light that a great many of the men in white supremacist movements got their start in MRA movements, that is – Gamergate was the gateway drug for joining the ranks of white supremacy. The one thing mass murderers and terrorists have in common is a tendency to be domestic abusers. It is the number one predictor of future violence.

I mean, it makes sense. If you begin by not seeing women as human beings, by being cruel and threatening to people you don’t see as people, by fantasizing about violence, why not expand into hating more people? You’ve already begun by hating half the population. You might as well, I guess. There is a major connection between these men’s inability to see women as people and leaning into white victimhood. As this article in The Cut says:

“If you can convince yourself that men are the primary victims of sexism, it’s not hard to convince yourself that whites are the primary victims of racism.”

I wrote the first draft of this earlier this summer, before the invasion of Charlottesville, before the lid was removed from the pot on the depth of depravity of the revitalized white supremacists and some things have changed and some have not. On the plus side, some tech companies stood up and denied service to hate groups they were previously hosting. Patreon sort of is and sort of isn’t standing up on this point. They removed right-wing activist, Lauren Southern, from their platform. This led her supporters to invent something called Hatreon. Where, I guess hate groups can crowdfund themselves in peace? Anyway – turns out this woman didn’t get cut from the platform because she’s spewing hate, she got cut for “risky behavior.” Meanwhile, Sarkeesian’s harasser-in-chief has increased his monthly take on Patreon from $5k to $8k in the last few months. It’s not getting better, folks, it’s getting worse.

When I read this story about Sarkeesian’s experience, I thought – “Should I leave Patreon? Is it right to be a part of a platform that enables sexist harassers?” and I think, if there were another platform like Patreon, I would switch to it immediately. (Like, “Actual Art-eon”? “No Nazis, just Art-treon?” I don’t  know.) I thought Patreon was a place for artists not harassment campaigns …but as no one has yet developed an artist funding platform for feminists, I think my best move is to stay where I am and somehow find a way to at least match the funding of the sexist jerk brigade. So if you want to help this feminist writer do at least as well as a sexist jerk, click here to find out about becoming a patron.

It’s possible right? For a feminist to do better than a sexist? Damn, I hope so.

And it doesn’t have to be me. I want to boost feminists and artists of color and people with disabilities and anyone else who is particularly vulnerable to the evils of hate. I did a search in Patreon and I gotta tell you, my extremely unscientific survey says, it pays a WHOLE LOT MORE to be a sexist jerk than to be a feminist. Or just to be a woman.

Here are some suggestions of some underfunded artists:

Jay Justice. Cosplayer, costumer, builder, gamer, writer, etc

Feministing for Change

Women in Comics Collective International

Disability Visibility Project

STEM and Disability Activism

Transgender Civil Rights Activist, Danielle Muscato

Marina Watanabe – Feminist Fridays

A Feminist Paradise

Feminist Killjoys, Phd

Monica Byrne – feminist sci fi writer

Faithless Feminist

Bree Mae – Disability, Queer, Mental Health advocate

I only knew a couple of these before I started searching, if you are a feminist or intersectional activist I can boost here, please let me know. I want us all to do better than the sexist jerks.

 

The 2016 Best of the Blog and Thank You notes for my patrons.

You can help me beat the sexist jerks by

Becoming my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

kaGh5_patreon_name_and_message*

This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Soundcloud, click here.screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. If you liked the blog and want to support it but aren’t quite ready for patronage on Patreon, You can tip me a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



Rejections of May, like sweet flowers, Bloom
May 31, 2017, 12:36 am
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , , , ,

The nice thing about NOT applying to places like the Millay Colony (which is reported to be a place of artistic magic and wonder) is that you can imagine how great it might be if you ever got it together to apply. That’s how it used to be for me.

However, I have now applied so many times, I could buy a couple of weeks worth of groceries with my application fees.

Luckily, my patrons at Patreon make that outlay of cash worth the price of rejection as I now get paid more to get rejected than I pay to apply. Is it discouraging to be so often rejected? Absolutely. Every time.

But on the bright side, if I’d gotten accepted, I’d not be writing this post now. I’d be suiting up to go write at a residency, where I can promise you, I would not be blogging until I returned because I’d be head first into my creative writing. It’s May. It’s Millay Rejection Month.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about all these rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

 

You can support me by becoming my patron on Patreon.

 kaGh5_patreon_name_and_message

Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

*

This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Soundcloud, click here.screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Princess Grace Award Rejection
January 4, 2016, 12:29 am
Filed under: Rejections, writing | Tags: , ,

Every year I apply. Every year I am rejected. But that is almost everyone. It’s one of those awards that is actually quite useful in that there’s real money at stake – so even though EVERYONE applies for it and almost NO ONE stands a chance – you sort of feel like you have to try anyway. It’s a little futile dance almost every playwright does every year – because they do have to give it to SOMEONE. Someone does have to win it. It’s just never been anyone I know. And I know a lot of playwrights.

But it would be weird if it were someone I knew, right?

Like – what would it be like if you knew the winner of the Nobel prize?

Actually the odds are better of knowing someone with a Nobel as they give out a lot more of those.

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*Wondering why I’m telling you about all these rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

You can help me weather the storms of rejection by becoming my patron on Patreon.

 kaGh5_patreon_name_and_message

Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page



The Benefits of (even small amounts of) Patronage
March 24, 2015, 10:48 pm
Filed under: art, business, Rejections | Tags: , , ,

Over on Patreon, a small but amazing group of people have pledged to donate a little bit of money each time I post a blog here on Songs for the Struggling Artist. The experience has been very moving to me and has made a difference in a number of ways.
1) It helps me to get closer to winning the rent game every month
2) It helps me feel like I’m not writing in vain – that there are people who support me in doing it, every single time, no matter what kind of crap I set down. (And the process of being any kind of artist means setting down some crap sometimes.)
3) Ever since one of my patrons suggested using the blog and Patreon to help solve my dilemma around the constant rejections I was receiving, I have found myself able to apply for a number of things I might otherwise have missed.

I’ll explain that last one. Every time I get a rejection notice, I write a blog. When I post each blog to Patreon, I get a little bit of money. Not a lot. But enough to make a difference. For example, there was a residency that sounded great but with an application fee of $25, it was cost prohibitive to apply. When you’re struggling to pay the rent, putting up $25 to probably be rejected by something just isn’t good math. But now that each of my rejection notices earns me a little bit above that (as long as I write a blog,) I will actually MAKE a little money on that rejection letter. The math gets a lot better and allows me to apply for things I could never have considered before.

Another example: Last year, I was rejected for a program that I really really wanted to get. That application came back around this year and I had nothing to propose but the same project that had previously been rejected. To apply again would be, sure, on one hand, a good idea, just in case – but almost certainly sure to yield me another rejection notice.

Before Patreon, I would have saved myself the time and trouble and pride swallowing and just let that application deadline slide on by. But because I knew my patrons were in my corner, I swallowed the hurt I’d felt from the previous rejection, polished up the play I was submitting and gave it another shot. Now, I could maybe afford to buy myself a martini when I get rejected again.

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If I could find a way to progress in my artist career without this roller coaster of application and rejection, I would – but for the moment, the only way out of it is through it and the more help I have in the slog, the more likely other ways open up. I would never have thought of this solution but I’ve found it to be a profound one. And I wonder what other secret solutions for solving the arts crisis are waiting to be discovered.

Are there other secret Arts Supports hiding out there that we don’t yet see? If you’ve seen them, let know. It feels important to share.

I read this review of a book about what’s happening to the Arts and Journalism and creativity in this country. It is a terrible crisis. The review beautifully (and painfully) sums up something I feel at a gut level. Read it if you can. And as an antidote for the troubling news in it, keep your eyes open for other models of support – like the one that is currently making such a difference in this artist’s life.

Want to join the merry band of awesomeness that is my group of patrons?

 kaGh5_patreon_name_and_message

Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page




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