Joining Camp Nanowrimo late


What day is it today? It’s April 5th? Okay, I’m not that late.

I’ve decided to attempt Camp Nanowrimo again. I tried to do it last year at some point (I can’t remember which time period it was, they have two different intake periods, I think), and it sort of fell by the wayside for reasons I’m not going to get into right now (mostly because they’re personal and I don’t really want to, but also because I’m not entirely confident of their validity).

I think that I’ll focus on Runaway Lane, just to add weight to the general “stop thinking so much you think too much freak” nature of that story. Also, having no real plans might make it easier for me to engage more with the community. I will have no plans, so I can have no secrets. There is nothing to be precious about with this story. I have no trajectory, so I can easily ask and accept input.

Maybe. Hopefully. We’ll see.

Anyway, I’m on there as brittanyelina. If you’re there and you feel like it, find me. Or not. Whatever. I’m not your mom friending you on Facebook. No obligation.




Crowdfunding, patronage and authorial voice


Just a heads up—there will be no closure in this.

I’ve been thinking lately that crowd-funding is a bit like the old systems of patronage, where people gave money to artists to keep them afloat and keep them producing things and, sort of, how that effected the sort of things that were written and painted and otherwise created.

At the moment, grants can be seen as patronage. Rich people and corporations hiring artists to produce pieces for them is fairly commonplace. But the kind of patronage that I’m talking about, the kind of patronage that crowd-funding seems closest to for me, is the kind of patronage that Michelangelo had from the Medici family. The kind where there’s kind of a relationship between the artist and the patron.

But I feel like that kind of relationship is problematic. Because while Michelangelo was reliant on the Medici’s, the Medici’s were a handful of people that he was able to speak to face-to-face, and their good opinion could be cultivated or ignored as he chose. Crowd-funding is problematic because you are reliant on others but cannot really address their opinions, affections, and dissatisfactions. And it would be impossible to respond to all of the varied responses to a piece of writing or artwork if crowd-funders are patrons. On top of all of this, the nature of the artist as an independent creator has evolved to a point where the “sole creator in all their madness” is a state of being that some artists think they have a right to. There are some obvious arguments to counterbalance that but they don’t really have anything to do with patronage, and I’m trying not to stray to far from my main point here.

There’s a problem is authorial voice. Imagine writing one single email to your mom, your sister, your best friend, and your boyfriend. What would the tone of that email be? What would the voice be? In patronage, if you know that your patrons want … I don’t know, they want your main character to fuck the hot guy, say, and you want to kill the hot guy, you might be influenced to not kill the hot guy, just because you knew enough about what your audience wanted from you that it interfered with your ability to tell the story. And sometimes the reader doesn’t really know what they want. For example, Game of Thrones.

This paragraph has spoilers, if you haven’t read or seen Game of Thrones (by the way, why the fuck haven’t you read/watched Game of Thrones? Get on that shit, dude!) so unfocus your eyes and scroll past. Eyes unfocused? NO, THEY CLEARLY ARE NOT, CAUSE YOU’RE READING THIS! You’re doing this to yourself, now. When I read Game of Thrones for the first time, and Ned died at the end, I nearly threw the book across the room. But I can’t see how that story would have sustained itself if he hadn’t died. I doubt I would have continued reading if he had. Or I might have, but I wouldn’t have felt the itchy junkie need to keep reading without his death. I would never have said that I wanted him to die. But he needed to die for the rest of the books to matter, or for them to be any good.

I’m not saying that external influence can’t be good or important or worthwhile, just that authors making use of crowd-funding and building platforms in this way need to know that it exists and that, when it’s immediate and linked to your fiscal survival, it can carry a weight that it can impact the story, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. Maybe that doesn’t make people as anxious (again, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way) as it makes me. I’m a Lonely Garret Writer (which I think will be a term that I use from now on, since I think I’ve used it a couple times now). If something is wrong I want it to be all my fault and if something is right I want it to be all my doing.

One of my professors thinks that crowd-funding is a flash-in-the-pan sort of thing. I don’t know. I feel like crowd-funding is just another facet of patronage, which has been around since time immemorial. As a species, we are continually deciding that we want art or stories or music enough that we’ll pay for it to be made. It’s interesting when compared to the continuous devaluation of the written word that we see in eBook pricing and the competitive efforts of print publishing to keep prices on par (cheaper paper, cheaper ink, shittier product that costs less money and has less added value and which, as a result, becomes less valuable in the social psyche). Maybe part of the crowd-funding successes lay in the fact that people are paying for what they want. Publishing is in the business of trying to charm the uninterested because, somewhere along the line, we convinced ourselves that everyone wants books. And they don’t. It’s a small, weird subsection of people that is interested in reading for pleasure. And those are the people that you have to be reaching out to. Those are the people who will pay more than 99 cents for something that they want, something that they like.

But you’ve got to get them to like you first. And I suppose that could be seen as another problem of crowd-funding—it’s still the culture of personality at work, at least to a certain extent. You have to sell yourself to sell your work for crowd-funding to really work for you.



P.S. An instance of quasi-patronage that I find endlessly entertaining is the George Harrison/Life of Brian patronage.

Launching a magazine!


In January of this year, my masters cohort was split into three groups and told to “launch” a new magazine. It had to have both print and digital components, and it had to be financially viable after three years. Just so you know, the latter is virtually impossible. Publishing in general has razor slim margins, magazine publishing even more so. Our numbers were, of necessity, very optimistic.

Early on in this magazine project, one of my teammates and I started talking about the Maker movement and the culture of repurposing, and how we would be interested in creating a magazine that served that community, but with more of an arts and culture focus. We decided to call the magazine “Repurposed.” Though we couldn’t focus on it while we were working on the other “magazine” for our project, we did start a secret Pinterest board, a Dropbox folder, and shared folder in Google docs to throw our inspiration in.

The magazine project was a very interesting experience. Every week, industry specialists came in to discuss our magazine ideas with us and, even though our project piece didn’t correspond very closely with Repurposed, we were still able to draw some awesome feedback from the panelists that we met that impacted our decision-making going into this project.

The end of the magazine project marked the beginning of the tech project. We were able to split into smaller groups and work on tech specific projects, drawing from our experiences in the magazine project. My friend and I requested and received permission to build Repurposed. And so it began.

Repurposed will be an online magazine committed to discovering and showcasing art forms that create something beautiful out of existing materials; literature and art that addresses the spectre of waste culture through repurposing, be it physical gadgets or more thematic ephemera. We want this magazine to exist as a native of the digital medium, with an annual print issue that will use some of the digital content but also exist as an artifact of it’s own, with added print production value and some exclusive content.

We have just launched our Facebook page. We are still coding the website (but I’ll link you out to it anyway, because there will be something there soon, and Reclaim Hosting is a great service, especially for students). It’s quite the process, as we want it to operate responsively across screens and systems. We are also on Twitter and Tumblr. We will be putting up a call for submissions across our web platforms within the next day or two. Maybe I should have waited to tell you about it until then. I don’t know.

I’m really excited, guys!