For months it's felt like my whole life has been on pause. I work, nearly every day, and then I keep working. Sometimes I work nights and weekends, often putting in twelve to sixteen hours a day. I live alone, and see probably three people a month in real life. There's nobody around to tell me to stop. All this work is mostly for my day job, but I haven't been sleeping well for the past ten months or so, and often wake around 3 AM to start my day. Those early morning hours are typically invested in writing and editing, when I can summon the energy and don't have any looming deadlines at work.
Over the past few months especially I've been having some weird health problems. Weight gain, focus issues, high blood pressure (normally you can calibrate equipment off me), and a heartbeat irregularity that led to a stress echo-cardiogram (which was, oddly, sort of fun). I think I'm burning out, or already burned out. Yet ideas keep arriving in my head. My mind doesn't know how to stop. Ideas arrive, I entertain them and flesh them out, and then... that's about it. New ideas arrive, new things happen at work, I get interrupted... something happens. Meanwhile my todo list just keeps growing.
Perhaps six weeks ago I had an idea that came into my head: I suddenly thought of all the artists throughout the previous centuries who were able to live their lives and create all that great art because some random rich person (or church) gave them money. I'm talking about the Mozarts, the Shakespeares, the Beethovens, the Chaucers, and all the rest. I figured, why couldn't that sort of thing still work?
Fast forward to today and it does. I had read about sites like Patreon before but it didn't click with me at the time. My perception was that those sites were mostly used by women who didn't wear very much clothing, earning tons of money every month just for showing up. An unfair perception, as it turned out, despite the fact that such things do happen. For a long time I had dismissed these sites due to that perception, because face it: I'm just not equipped to earn money that way.
After discarding that perception, I spent some time actually watching videos and reading about the site. Turns out there are a lot of artists on there, and some really are earning enough money to live. That's ultimately what I want: not piles and piles of money, just enough to pay my bills, put food on the table and beer in my glass, and let me concentrate on creating things. I would love to be able to focus every day on my fiction, and have the energy left over to return to my photography hobby and making games.
It was an interesting and exciting idea, and after doing some research I stopped.
I Was Waiting...
I don't know exactly for what. I'm sure I wanted things to be perfect. That's usually why I stop just short of finishing things. What is perfect? Nothing. It's better to focus on creating something, anything, and just putting it out there. It will never be perfect because you aren't perfect. In a way that's a good thing. Art is not about perfection, it's about flaws: showing flaws in the subject, in society, in the creator. Displaying flaws as a way to challenge the thoughts and perceptions of the person reading or viewing what you created. It doesn't matter if you write, paint, sculpt, or glue pieces of trash together. Ultimately, art is about sharing emotion.
Maybe I was waiting out of fear? Possible. Fear of what exactly? Of failing? Everyone fails. I fail pretty often. You can't succeed without failing. Just look at my current writing career:
I've been independently publishing my fiction for ten years now. I've published more than 260,000 words of original fiction. I have readers, and dare I say at least a few fans who have left me good reviews and contacted me directly about stories they've enjoyed. Am I a successful author? No. Am I a failure at writing? Not exactly. It certainly hasn't made me wealthy. At our peak, Lost Luggage Studios was selling about 30-35 books a month; after some changes in recent years that Amazon made, we now sell about 2-3 books a year. But many people who read my stories seem to enjoy my strange sense of humor, my sense of timing and pacing, my creative ideas, and the characters and philosophies with which I play.
Yes, in retrospect, it very likely was the fear. Rationally, I know I'm not a failure, but it seems there's always a nagging sense of Impostor syndrome lingering around. You can't fail if you don't try. But you also can't succeed.
...For Friday the 13th?
That brings me to today, Friday the 13th. Maybe that was what I was waiting for after all? There are people in this world who are scared of this day. Superstitions abound, and I certainly don't begrudge anyone basing feelings on the supernatural. The number 13 has always been feared by some, and having that day fall on a Friday makes it especially bad. Somehow.
As for me, and my whole family really, Friday the 13th has always been a good day for us. An omen of better times, the best day to start a new project or to take initiative. I grew up in a small town, and we lived in house number 13. We moved out when I was in high school, after living there for 13 years. Most of my happiest memories were on a Friday the 13th. Whenever my mother's mother was looking for work, she always managed to find it on a Friday the 13th. Those are just a few examples.
So here I am, setting up a Patreon site on Friday the 13th. Will it work? Who knows. What does "work" even mean in this context? I suppose if I can find enough people who like my writing and are willing to send some money my way every month to get much, much more of it; then yes this could potentially free me from having to work so hard on other people's dreams and concentrate on the dream I've had since I was a child living in that little house with the number 13 on it: to be a writer, an author, a storyteller.
Time will tell, I suppose. But at least for now I feel better than I have in months, because I took action. Win or lose, I took a concrete step, and for that I feel like I've already succeeded.
My Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/lljamie