Pride and Prejudice

Dear Patreon:

Once I’ve sent out Christmas Haiku to everyone who were subscribers to my campaign on December 18th, my relationship with your platform as a creator is over. I’ll still continue to pledge to three people whose work deserves my respect and support, but I won’t be reinstated pledges I cancelled, and I certainly won’t support anyone else who uses the service again. I think it is worth explaining to you why an about face over the ridiculous issue of fees doesn’t change a single thing for someone like me.

I’m still not convinced you grasp what the problem is to begin with.

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The main reason I chose your service was not, I now realise, the convenience of a one-stop crowdfunding experience. Being busy with other things did make the platform really attractive, and that was backed up with the appearance of a group of people who appeared to genuinely care about creative process and not the bottom line. Of course it matters to get paid for your work, but with this being problematic at present in the real world, virtual success will undoubtedly begin to mirror issues elsewhere. Not everybody will be bringing in thousands of dollars a month and now you realise just how many people depended on the tiny gifts of faith to keep them sane, I suspect there could well be some pause for thought.

However, my biggest complaint, and the reason why even with the about face in your attitude I won’t return, is the belief that for every creator, money matters more than  process. It is the modern, hugely misguided belief that how much you earn is the best reflection of any true success, and when companies like you define modus operandi for the platform in financial statements… Principles matter, and cannot be swept under a carpet: when you decide to provide handy links for creators to help claw back lost cash it is clear that principle is far less important than your initial assertions would suggest. If this were just about money however it could be far more dispassionately rationalised, but there is an integrity gap that continues not to be filled, and that bothers me greatly.

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It may also seem disingenuous for me to continue funding people on your platform, but I have pledged support to these people and that will not be affected by whatever suspect business decisions you make, either now or in the future. I’m fairly confident, looking at my cancelled pledges, that those people won’t lose a lot of sleep over my principled stance either, so nobody that I care about really loses, except myself, which continues to be of some interest to those who are now approaching me with surprise. Why, if the platform was so convenient and useful, do I now decide to leave and not come back?

Your exit surveys are criminally vague when it comes to challenging pledges over reasoning: you have to care enough about someone when you take their money away to then admit the real truth as to that withdrawal of funds, and most individuals when they choose to crowdfund to begin with won’t want to admit they can no longer afford to do so on departure. Amazingly though, nobody was backwards in coming forwards around the reasons why they cancelled over this affair. Looking objectively at my individual cases, I don’t believe any more that Patreon really does care about people like them or me. From what I have seen and heard, what I believe is that it matters more to produce a profitable business model that can be sold in time to the highest bidder. I am not special or individual, we are simply users to be counted as assets.

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However, without all of this I would not have been encouraged leave and go it alone: without six months where it became apparent I had material that could be sold, there would no be the confidence to move forward and pursue my dreams. I think that’s what makes this whole sordid affair even more upsetting: I trusted your platform to mirror my own integrity, and it failed. My good opinion once lost is lost for ever. I might say that in jest, but there’s a good reason why Darcy is one of my favourite characters in English literature. He and I are both shy, nervous and reticent to reveal ourselves in public. Once we put faith in something and it becomes a personal experience, to have that faith ignored and effectively dismissed as not important is not a blow that we will easily recover from.

I don’t want to be a successful businesswoman. I need to be a happy creator. Your platform seems to believe I have to be one to become the other, and that’s not true. I don’t want to be associated publicly with people who aren’t interested in artistic integrity, unless it makes them a profit. Therefore, I’ll find another way to help support myself, and you are no longer part of that process.

I hope you think long and hard about the damage you have done, not only to your brand, but to people like me whose trust is lost forever.

Paranoid Android

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(I’ve been listening to the Radiohead OKNotOK remaster all week. No Surprises as to what keep cropping up as lyric prompts.)

I lay awake at 5am this morning, as has become something of a habit of late. It’s not bad,  looking at the daily sleep cycle: I went to bed at ten because EXHAUSTED and seven and a bit hours has become a ‘normal’ night. However, a return to sleep was possible, safe in the knowledge that everything that needs to be done this month not only is doable, but will be completed. For the first time in many months I think I’m strong enough to produce what is asked everywhere, without collapsing in a massive heap, though there were a few points yesterday where panic physically manifested. They were all dealt with, however, and now comes the nuts and bolts.

The plan going forward is to produce enough quality content in the hope to attract someone to sign for a higher tier of participation, to break the $100 a month threshold. The job I gave up to do this paid approximately $160 a month, so that will be the next metaphorical achievement… and then if I crack $200 I can give up the other part time writing projects still involved in. I’m enough of a realist to grasp this will take time, and a phenomenal amount of effort on my part, but working hard has never been something I’ve had a problem with. As this morning shows, it is dealing with the paranoia that accompanies starting something from the ground up which is a far bigger issue. Today, nothing seems quite good enough.

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Patreon keep sending me emails instructing that content creators should play up positivity and optimism in my work. This is the single biggest thing I struggle with. Knowing work is good enough, that your heart and soul is being poured into every word and post… of course there is a firm belief in everything being produced, or this journey would never have been begun. That’s not the problem: I fucking suck at self promotion. There is nobody else to blow the trumpet except me, and only now is it apparent what a huge place the Internet is and how tiny one feels in comparison. The hope, of course, is that my distinctive approach is niche enough to attract total strangers. When that finally happens, then there will be a belief that yes, there is mileage in this.

Getting people I don’t know to take a chance on me is the next step.

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I have lost count of the number of ‘friends’ who promised earnest support for projects over the years yet conveniently vanished when help was needed the most. In fact, I should thank those individuals for teaching the lesson that, in the end, the only person one can truly rely on is yourself. This next few weeks is about being confident in conviction, and not being swayed by those who just turn up to start a fight: after all, that’s my job anyway. The people who matter most already grasp the significance of this project, and have been kind enough to stand up as support in the vital early months. Everybody else, like it or not, isn’t interested, and if that can be changed? Well, there’s a point to aim for.

Perhaps if I can aim to sway one mind a day, going forward, 365 minds by the end of the year is a massive achievement. Small steps is all I can hope for.

That’s how all good journeys begin.

Underdog

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Once upon a Time, I thought I’d found a niche for myself, and for a brief and glorious period basked in what was a pretty sweet spotlight. Then, when I took a long, hard look at the people working that same space, it became apparent that there really wasn’t much in common between me and them, and if this remained my path it would end up being quite a lonely journey. It was at that point that the true revelations began to surface: being alone wasn’t really a problem, I didn’t need to be popular… what mattered more was saying what needed to be spoken. Often, these brought me to blows with those who thought that having your own opinion and standing by it was nothing more than ‘causing trouble.’

Yes, I suppose it was.

Gone are the days however of wanting to antagonise people. Yes, the urge surfaces from time to time, yet now comes the revelation that there are simply better things to do with the time. If something’s done well, I’ll praise it. Make a hash of something and it’ll be pointed out. The desires have been sublimated, reconstituted into other pursuits: getting physically fit and staying there, learning about the world around me and ultimately, becoming a better writer. Once the desire to win has been eliminated, when there comes a true understanding of why loss is important, a lot of life makes a great deal more sense. Victory has evolved into progress. For someone who spent a lot of time fixating over what that really means, that has been a very tough lesson to finally grasp.

It is not by any means learnt yet either.

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Today starts a concerted and very personal project which, I hope, will educate me better as a writer and others as to what exists outside the Internet, and how that platform is rapidly subverting and altering so much of our daily lives. Doing it alone is probably one of the most frightening tasks I have ever undertaken. I don’t have the crutch of someone else’s massive game or personality to support me with either. It is just me and the words. This matters a lot, so I am going to do my utmost to make it a success. I need to make my thoughts reality, to show that finally it is possible to build a concept from your own ideas and create something totally unique and special.

I hope you will consider joining me as this new journey begins.

Time

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My life is coming to a fairly significant crossroads. In just over a month, I commit myself at 50 to becoming my own arbiter, attempting to create a new career as a 21st Century Nonconformist. In a World where so many shout their mantras into the ether, which some believe rotates far too closely around circles of electronic Hell: will I be seen as any different to the heretics and fools that embrace diversity, speeding us all towards the World’s end? This historical period is as close to chaos as many will remember, but for me I am reminded first of the early 1980’s and before the 1970’s: the Cold War and the Three Day Week are memories I carry a world away from what now passes for normal daily life. If the last few days of dreams are any indicator, my subconscious grasps only too readily that these are turbulent times ahead.

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I have always been considered as a troublemaker: however, I never really wholeheartedly embraced the concept of rebellion until I hit my late twenties. I’ve come to most things later than others, I realise now because of the ability to properly grasp implication behind those actions involved. With the benefit of time, an environment was created which allowed me to both develop and evolve at a pace that suited mind and body, and that was not dictated by circumstance. Only now is it becoming apparent how useful that has become in order to be able to see a larger picture. It is also a daily reminder of just how lucky I am as a white, middle-aged woman to have the opportunity to begin with.

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If I went to the Bank on June 1st and asked for a loan to become a full-time digital writer, they’d laugh at me. I could submit articles to a hundred online sites and be rejected for every single one. This is a profession that is so subjective as for it to be impossible to quantify what matters on any given day: the way in which we devour, create and even transmit our communications alters sometimes on a daily basis. My online newspaper of choice doesn’t simply provide written commentary any more, there are short video ‘articles’ peppered amongst the headlines. If you want a novel to be a success, having robots recognise your website is as important as a set of good reviews. My ability to communicate in 140 character bursts is as important as long form mastery, and textspeak. It isn’t about being ‘down with the kids’ and more either, there are languages for every part of the Web. If you don’t know your Deplorables from the Untouchables? You won’t last long in the Digital Wild West.

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What I bring to the table in this Digital relationship is time: not only have I been here since inception, but I’ve grown with trends and diversification. I am very much anti Facebook and pro Twitter, but it doesn’t mean I don’t grasp the commercial implications of both. I may avoid SnapChat because of the filters and vanity, but it doesn’t take an idiot to grasp how significant the platform is for a generation of users, for whom instant information is key. Learning how to be a better person might seem a waste of time in a place where nobody needs to know who you are, but when you’re willingly giving away personal details to anyone with a contact form? Consequences will matter. In fact, there will be a generation of Internet users for which the repercussions of digital immersion will only truly become apparent if we can survive the next forty years without the Planet disintegrating around us, mostly because lots of people failed to pay attention to Science when it mattered. Of all of this, in the digital world around us, a grasp of Biology, Physics, Chemistry and every sub-branch in between is more important now than it has ever been.

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I’d love to say that telling stories is the real reason I want to be a writer, and although that is true, I’ve realised in the last few years it isn’t all that now matters. I can still spin fictions in the manner I choose, but not at the expense of ignoring bigger stories. The Internet of Words is my way to do many things at once: fulfil my dreams, yes, but also expand the potential of others, because without learning to better communicate as a planet, we are all doomed to failure. It cannot just be any more that you work towards your own ends, making individual success matter. Without everybody being able to win, frankly, there’s not much left to live for. If you think the future is living in your own, safe and consequence free bubble, I suspect there’s some major shocks coming very soon indeed. One of the races in my favourite computer games have a phrase: ‘Time is money, friend’ and this morning I realised that’s more true on an intellectual level than I’d ever previously grasped. The time I have lived is indeed worth something, what I have left to use so precious that not a moment should be wasted.

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I’m now sitting on a lovely pile of CoPromote reach and on Monday I’ve decided to use the IoW site to officially launch my concept to a bunch of total strangers. I have no idea how this will go down and frankly, I’m not that worried if the interest is minimal. What matters most is having the confidence to stand and fall on an idea, and nothing else. Bringing unique perspective is what I’ve always done best, and I’ve ever been afraid of being unpopular as a result. After all, as I never grow tired of reminding anyone who’ll listen, the reason why you fail is to learn how to succeed. Once you know what not to do, the options become less complex to grasp.

Then all you need is courage to take that first step.

Every Day is like Sunday

Ah, Easter. This is the time in our house where chores get done, shit gets thrown away and long-overdue promises are finally fulfilled. Today therefore is a fairly typical day of Resurrection: the garden is now cleared of all the rubbish from last week, and we have a man scheduled to come properly remove the last two stubborn tree trunks and roots, so that’s a boatload of progress. Husband is recovered enough from his second bout of elective surgery to go ride a bike, and with the kids at my parents, I have the house to myself. As the end of the Easter break looms large, I find myself thinking about how much has changed in the last four months because, like it or not, I’m in a vastly different place YET AGAIN to where I was this time last year.

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I love the life I have. It wasn’t awful before, but now there’s a measure of real control and confidence that simply didn’t exist previously. There’s been a couple of genuinely fuzzy days since last Thursday, I won’t lie, but coming out of the back of everything there remains an optimism that I don’t ever really remember owning. Having cast the die on the Patreon, I’m ready to order the Tier rewards to offer to people to sign up with, because I’m absolutely determined to make this entire venture as professional and polished as possible. That means four tiers of participation, from Casual to Hardcore (and yes they’ll be named after game styles because HEY I CAN IT IS MY PATREON) and a real excitement of what this could mean long term. I’m still quietly stunned that with the minimal amount of advertising the @InternetofWords Twitter account already has followers in double figures. That alone makes me think this whole amazing thing MIGHT JUST WORK.

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Then, there has to be content, and there’s already lots of ideas on the table. I’m going to be consulting with some trusted people in the next week as to whether they think these ideas have merit long term, and which should be developed as a priority. Once that’s all in place, starting the beginning of May it is time to just dive in and work on as much as possible so when everything goes live in June we’re future proofed until the end of the year. I hope I’ll have some of you along for the journey, and the plan is to use CoPromote as a means to see if there’s new followers to pick up along the way. There’ll be other means to generate interest too, if it all works out. Only time will tell.

For now, it is time to enjoy a lazy Sunday for all it is worth.

The Politics of Dancing

There’s a temptation to just spill the beans completely on my future plans, as I’m totally useless at suspense or keeping secrets, but because I understand that people get interest by drip-feeding information, it is time to say just this. The URL  internetofwords.com now points at my writing site. It’s a play on words (unsurprisingly) from the Internet of Things:

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I decided that, if I’m going to explore all aspects of how language online works, why communication has transformed our lives via social media plus all points in between, then the Internet of Words would be a great umbrella title for all of these ideas and more, including my own writing on the subject. That means my noun needs a definition:

‘The interconnection via the Internet of thoughts, ideas and writing styles embedded in social media, blogs, mobile apps and web pages, enabling new forms of communication.’

I realise this is going to get a bit cerebral for some people, but the plan in the first instance is to stick with simplicity and to explore what already exists on ‘paper’ and ‘online’ as a starting point. It also means I can include my own writing work legitimately as part of the project, as I’ll be using the Internet as marketing and advertising combined. It seems really rather lofty at Ground Zero, but I really hope I can make it both engaging and interesting at the same time. Only time will tell, I suppose, but I am insanely excited at the possibilities thus far.

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It also allows me to offer merchandise as tier rewards, but to do that I’m going to need a logo. The irony last night of me announcing this need was being followed by a number of Twitter bots offering design services, which is how life works around this parish. I think I’d like to do something myself with type and a simple graphic element, and I’ll be taking the weekend to looking for suitable fonts, that will also translate onto the webspace. I don’t want to spend money on things I can do myself if possible either, because I’m quite a frugal soul when it comes down to it. Mostly, the look of my project does matter a great deal, but not nearly as much as the content :D

There’s a lot to think about, but this I feel is a solid start.