404. Capitalism and the Arts and Priorities

These days I am mostly at home helping Char take care of Jay as per our new agreement, and which is a good thing since her hand has taken a turn for the worse.

It has been period for a period, while I have helped and she has been getting treatments, and I thought we could at least keep status quo as we have been trying to do since all of this started in September. But no. And last night she was all in tears about it, and that really upset me. Because we can’t do anything except wait for Jay to go into daycare and otherwise learn to walk and all himself.

But otherwise all the fronts are fairly stable, especially now that I don’t really work that much with trying to get new clients and just take care of existing clients or those who show up unannounced. Staying at home more hasn’t give me more spare-time, though, since I just use more time to help with Jay and relieve Char.

However, as mentioned the other day, I have been ramping up my efforts – however much I can – to connect with other blogs, seeing as it really takes too long for me to keep focused on just finding good images on photo-blogs and the like, as I had originally planned to be the great headline for what and who I wanted to connect with.

I know other blogs and sites right there and then where I can contribute meaningfully, so when I have 5 minutes for that – and feel for that – then … why not?

One of the blogs (and YouTube-profiles, among many other things) that I have recently found and enjoyed tremendously is that of David V. Stewart, who does podcasts and blog posts and courses and books and … well, lots. On lots of different topics. Yeah, lots. 🙂

One such podcast is Capitalism and the Arts 

in which David and a friend elaborates on the old truth that you have to be willing to make art for the market – that people want – in order to make money from it. You can’t expect to make money by making art you think is good, or the critics think is good. You need an audience. And if you can’t change your mind to that, then you shouldn’t do art to make money. Find something else!

I couldn’t agree more! And it has been a long hard lesson that I am first and foremost not cut out to do art for the market. Sure, I know topics and ideas and stories that might sell within a relatively short time-frame, given the right promotion investment.

I believe Hammer and Magic has the potential to become a fantasy novel or novella-series that people will actually buy in enough numbers, under the current price regimes for ebooks, so it could conceivably make a few thousand dollars per month at least – if I chose to put it on sale and promote it in the big salesplaces like Amazon. (If … )

But like I wrote the other day:

…  I am still only doing Hammer and Magic – art and illustration bits – in my spare-time when I need to relax. I am going to be deliberately and hopelessly “unprofessional” about how I work on this project, because I know from experience that … nothing else works, if I want to stay motivated under the circumstances of my life.

And I am very clear about that. For me then it is the method, my priorities about how much time and energy to invest in making Hammer and Magic into a form where it can sell in the traditional channels, and do that as quickly as possible.

I have learned that I should not do that. Back in 2011-12 I thought and planned on a future when I could live off selling ebooks on Amazon with my fiction because that was the promise of the ‘Gold Rush’ back then when the ebook marked grew exponentially. I have since learned that

  • I don’t really like Amazon’s business practices or the lack of control I have on their platform
  • I don’t want to put in the hard work to create as much fiction as possible, to market it as much as possible, to make money from it as soon as possible. I know such a focus on quantity and results kills my motivation and it would be completely unsustainable while barely having enough time to do my livelihood job as a webdesigner anyway these days when I feel the need to spend so much time to take care of my family and we have chosen to burn some credit and inheritance to make it so.
  • I do want my own platform and I want it to be more, well, community based.

Elaboration on the last point: I have been a role-player for 26 years now and I am attracted to creating this universe around my story, on a website and in a forum I control and where anyone can join and role-play and share their own stories and art taking place in the universe. That along with my story and my art. Sure, I could do that with a view to marketing my stuff to generate sales on existing platforms, but I want to do it because that is the kind of platform I want to end up with.

Then I can always decide later if I want to go the route of publishing via other channels. Oh, and I seriously think the story itself should be free. I can build a variety of income-streams from T-shirt sales to printed books.

I am not saying this is how I should go about it or how I definitely will go about it. I will stress again that first and foremost I don’t do this to make money, but to rejuvenate myself in my precious periods of free time.

I am also fully okay with doing the commercialization at some later time when it feels feasible and then finding out that I could not earn enough money to achieve my financial goals, let alone recoup my investment in IT-infrastructure and so on.

Fine. I know why I do this art project now. Finally. And I know what I should be doing if I want to seriously make money on it any time soon. And why I am not doing it. Not yet, anyway …

That is a huge relief.