Note from the author: I have included this ancient blog post from my archives because I think it's really important in relation to my overall personal narrative. I still feel like this a lot of the time, and I guess I'll continue feeling this way until I publish. And probably after I publish too, from what I've been told by writers far more experienced and successful than me. For the record, I do still have that Patreon, but it's sat neglected for the majority of its existence, mainly due to the internal struggle described below. I told all my backers to withdraw their support, seeing as they weren't getting anything for their money - though there is one kind soul who still sends me a dollar every month! No, I will not provide a link to that Patreon page, and I'll eventually delete it altogether. I just need to pull some content from it first - but that's not a huge priority right now.
I suppose it's normal, and even expected, to be absolutely terrified about starting a Patreon, unless you've been successfully producing work for years and already have a huge fan base who will rally to your cause. I am definitely not one of those fortunate individuals! Though I have been writing consistently since age five, the work I put out there to the general population is very rare. I just dug up a few old pieces from my long-abandoned DeviantArt account, and a couple were worth keeping, but most had to be shit-canned immediately BECAUSE OH GODS THE 20-SOMETHING ANGST FEST.
I had a crushing moment of doubt yesterday, when I let my brain run rough-shod over my self-esteem, and it went something like this:
Brain: "So, you've set up a Patreon creator page then?"
Zoff: "Yep! I'm really proud of it, and honestly think that it will be useful to my work and progress, as well as being interesting for my friends, and the odd stranger that stumbles across it!"
Brain: "So what... you're going to send letters to people, and write a private journal for them, and let them see your first drafts?"
Zoff: "Totally! It will be a great way to keep me writing, and on track."
Brain: "For... money? You're expecting people to pay you a monthly pledge for this?"
Zoff: "I... err... well... I'll offer more shiny things when I think of them. And... it's not like I'm... terrible... at... writing..."
[Zoff tails off, chewing her lip]
Brain: "For the love of the gods. What the hell do you think you're doing, you waste of space? I know when you get a plan in your head, you steam forwards with enthusiasm and purpose, but this is beyond the pale! You seriously think that you can get more than a handful of dollars for short-stories and blog posts? You really think people will believe you when you say you're going to write a novel? Patreon visitors only care about things they can see and feel - artists, sculptors, photographers, documentary-makers, game designers - that's where it's at. That's all people care about. Promising to write for people isn't just a con, but it's plain embarrassing. You're no Dean Koontz... you're not even E L James, for pity's sake. Look at your friends, go on, the ones who already have Patreon pages! They are amazing artists, who have huge portfolios of previous work, and you are basically taking a big metaphorical dump on their achievements by even trying to equate yourself with them. Stop this now, you're making an ass of yourself. And go die in a fire whilst you're at it."
I love these talks I have with myself. If you haven't already noticed, my brain is kind of a dick. Needless to say, this resulted in me vomiting a very long, self-pitying post on to one of my Facebook filters. The responses I got were mixed: some friends told me I should ignore the bad voices, that I deserved to be a success, that it was brave of me to venture on to Patreon, and I should soldier on. Some (very helpfully) suggested that maybe I should try putting some of my previous and current work out there before expecting people to back me - a bit of cerebral on-top-of-the-clothes stuff before we get buck-naked. On the lower end of the scale, a few concerned mates pointed out that maybe I was setting myself up to fail, that a lot of Patreon writers find themselves largely overlooked, and even amazingly talented artists frequently fail to get any kind of significant patronage. Basically, I'm not Amanda Palmer, and to go down a route that may wind up with me judging my overall self-worth against how many dollars are in my account would be hugely damaging to any hopes of me achieving "published author" status. Maybe I should go without Patreon completely? No one outright said I should stop, take down my page, and give back the money already pledged to me, but my asshole brain simply leapt on to anything remotely negative, mooshed it all together, and smeared it all over my face.
I shut off my computer and walked away for the rest of the day.
I expected to feel like hammered shit today but instead, I'm already thinking about how I can address these issues and garner some support in other ways, before running around in circles, shouting my Patreon URL from the rooftops of Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr and probably falling flat on my face before the first real hurdle. So back to those few bits and pieces on DeviantArt... I have taken the ones with any kind of promise and printed them out, to be read and edited/re-written as necessary. I also dragged up the memory of an awesome short story I wrote in college, the one I was most proud of, and even though I don't have a copy anymore I can remember enough that writing it from scratch shouldn't be too daunting. And this time it'll be even better!
I also have another concept for an original short work written up in note form already. I was going to save that for Patreon and my ***FIRST DRAFT FUNTIMES*** backers, but I think at this stage, getting work out there to the masses is more important. It will be a great opportunity to show people what I am capable of, and also tack "If you enjoyed this, please consider backing me on Patreon" on to the end.
So, I got down, but I am by no means out. I may have to take things a little slower that I first intended, but that in no way means I'll be neglecting my existing backers. Regular updates, and these journals will keep coming!