On Art, Integrity, And Crowdfunded Creativity
Listen to a reading of this article:
Regular readers may have noticed I’ve been posting a bit more often than my usual once per day. I’ve been experiencing an influx in creativity lately and I remembered that I’m my own boss so I can post as often as I like, and I just wanted to bang out some thoughts for the hell of it about my and Tim’s thing here to share with any readers who are interested.
I don’t think I talk enough about how cool our setup is here. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to be able to write and make anything we want without an editor, but, more importantly I’m coming to see, without the extrinsic motivation of money.
Of course, I could try to make things to please more people, and that would make more money, but that has never ever been my goal. My goal has always been to do my part in healing myself so I can see more clearly and speak with more clarity and consciousness about what’s happening in our world, how we can fix it, and what possibilities lie beyond this vale of tears.
I also realized very early on that having integrity meant also being all of myself, and not keeping all the various parts of me that don’t conform to people’s idea about what a journalist is out of the picture. That was embarrassing at the start. People would spit out “soccer mom” at me like a smear.
I’m pretty kooky, I get painfully shy, I am virtually skinless when it comes to my emotions, I’m probably on the spectrum, and yes, I spend a lot of time in the car driving my kids around. I’m also fat, I’m on the wrong side of 40, I have every kind of stretchmark from carrying kids, and also sex is a huge part of my life.
Also, my setup is weird. I am not one writer, I am two. The articles and art are the product of the ongoing conversation between me and my American husband Tim Foley. I need to talk about that regularly or else people get the idea that I’m some kind of superwoman, and other aspiring indie media workers could get discouraged about not being able to be as prolific.
So in business terms I’ve made integrity my brand. I’ve made my primary goal to not be needed anymore because the world will be so conscious that my efforts to bring consciousness will be redundant. I have switched all extrinsic motivators off. I give away my stuff so I can’t just rest on my laurels; I have to keep returning to my own healing so I can find fresh inspiration. And, because of the two-handed author set-up, I don’t even really feel like any of this is “mine”. People say such lovely things to me about this work, but the ego candy is minimized because it doesn’t feel like it’s directed at me personally.
Being crowdfunded, my income source is very diffuse and I would go nuts trying to keep all my patrons and supporters happy; that was clear from the start. So blocking out the badgering of others is something I had to learn. What it means, though, is that my only boss is my gut.
All these decisions have meant that trying to make more money by gaming or competing wouldn’t work, and would most likely be to my financial detriment if anything. If you shape your business model around your integrity, then ditching your integrity is going to fuck up your business model.
A side benefit of that though is that making art has become healing to me again. After years of doing graphic design for others, I’d lost that long ago. My inner critic was very noisy with the ideas of other people, and I lost what it was to sit down and amuse myself just to amuse myself. But because I’ve been free to make what I want for quite a while now, I remembered how to use art like a kid does — to explain things to myself, to explore my emotions, to re-visit the scenes of old wounds, and to have fun with myself.
For example, that “Joelene Versus The Landlord” piece was incredibly healing for me. It got me thinking about some of the more traumatic events in my life, and let me resolve some of my grief around those times. I would never ever have been able to make that if I was stuck at an outlet answering to some asshole named Greg who spends more time looking at my boobs than looking at my copy and “well, actually”ing every single novel idea I have.
Fuck Greg. Fuck the gatekeepers. Fuck capitalism for taking the most potent healing tool we have — art — and making it into just another hustle. What’s happening for me now is really amazing and I want it for everyone. Everyone should have this freedom.
Thank you all so much for making this possible.