I continue to think about Patreon (and thanks so much to those who suggested good writer Patreons yesterday, keep those suggestions coming) and how best to use it.
I was talking with Benjamin Rosenbaum about this when we recorded our podcast a week or so ago, and he asked whether starting a new writing project on Patreon wouldn’t take away from my other writing projects.
I don’t *think* so, and here’s why:
a) I’m VERY good at doing anything but writing — last year, I got a fair bit of writing done (finished the memoir version of the cancer log, Tornado, finished a revision of the SF novel, Liminal Space, finished drafts for three TV episodes) — but only by either going out of town on a writing retreat, or by taking a screenwriting class with deadlines.
So I clearly do better when I have some structure imposing deadlines, and I want to get back to close to daily writing at home (not just when I take myself out of town), and Patreon is a good way to impose structure — if I promise something on a weekly or biweekly basis, I’ll be motivated to deliver. I hate letting people down. (Challenge: tracking it to make sure I actually do it, setting reasonable goals that I can actually meet.)
b) I’m pretty sure anything I write for Patreon (whether it’s an ongoing serial, little side stories to my novel, food essays, whatever) can be rewritten and then sold again to a different audience. I can release it on Kindle Unlimited, for example, or I can give it to my agent to try at print publications, or I can submit short stories to magazines.
b1) I’m not certain of that last, actually — for decades, I think the standard has been if you’re mailing a story out to a private mailing list, it doesn’t count as publication. I’m not sure if magazine editors still feel that way? Does it matter how many Patreon subscribers you have, as long as you keep it all behind a paywall? You can always sell reprint rights, of course, but would you consider that first rights are gone, if someone puts stories out on Patreon? What’s the current feeling on this, short fiction editors?
c) I’d plan to simultaneously keep working on the other projects — part of ADHD is that I have twenty ideas at any given time, and while Ben has convinced me that I can’t actually work on all of them effectively at once, I do think that for me, having 2-4 writing projects that I’m switching between works pretty well. One might be in drafting stage, another in second draft, another in copyediting and final revisions. The food essays are a priority, so I’ll definitely be working on those — the rest is undetermined.
So if you look at the notes I made the other day, this is my current writing to-do list. On the left are various things to finish up, mostly, and I’m planning to just steadily move through those this semester. (I’m hoping the various long plane flights will be good writing time.)
On the right are various books to write, and then a set of possible poetry chapbooks to put together (out of already-written poems) and submit to presses; I’m feeling more excited about poetry these days than I have in a while.
And then the last category are some fun possible Patreon projects — and part of what’s fun about them is that they’re low-stakes. I get a lot of anxiety around my more ‘serious’ writing, and I think it’ll help me to have something that’s explicitly just meant to be fun. (I mean, The Stars Change was meant to be just fun, and ended up being about the war in Sri Lanka and Black July, so I can’t promise it’ll stay non-serious, but at least starting out that way should help?)
I’m envisioning something sort of Dickens-ish, a serialized set of stories, slices of life, etc.
So that’s just some musings — and hey, if you’d like to weigh in on the Patreon projects, here are three possibilities I’m considering, would love thoughts on what’s most appealing:
1) a likely somewhat sexy series about SF academics — set on Kriti, at my University of All Worlds, with new characters you haven’t met yet, professors and grad students and undergrads of lots of different species. Possibly with bonus murder mystery.
2) a SF series set on a spaceship (think a small ship, like Firefly) with a crew of multispecies characters, found family, who are basically event planners — a horticulturist, a chef, acrobats and dancers, who travel from world to world hosting parties, encountering various difficulties along the way (this is the setting for my Jump Space RPG, so I’ve worked a fair bit of it out already)
3) a fantasy series, possibly set in the world of my (unpublished) YA fantasy novel, Rasathi, South Asian medieval in feel, with probably some kind of kitchen and/or garden witchery at the heart of it — domestic and relatively low-stakes, relaxing to read.
Also pictured below, what I’m actually working on this morning, completely reorganizing my office to make better use of the space — I’m moving bookshelves, which requires quite a lot of taking things down so I can put them up again.
Goal — have office reorganized by end of the week, and also make decisions about Patreon, so I’m ready to start writing by next week. Eep.