Dear everyone who’s watched the video: THANK YOU for the incredible response! It’s fly as hell, right? But I realize I didn’t do a great job explaining what Patreon IS: Patreon provides a platform to subscribe to an artist’s continuing output on a sliding scale. You SUBSCRIBE to an artist just like you SUBSCRIBE to a magazine. So it’s not like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, which are goal-focused; Patreon is sustainability-focused. And sustainability is THE number-one challenge in making a career as an artist.
Almost three thousand people subscribe to this blog. Have you read The Girl in the Road? Liked it? (These critics did.) Okay, I do some CRAZY SHIT in my short fiction, arguably crazier than anything in the novel. Fighter pilots falling through the Earth’s crust and secretaries with candy fetishes and nuns dipping the Eucharist in strawberry sauce and “border parties” as a new form of protest and new physics to describe the dream world and a djinn porno shoot in the Iranian desert and children made of lava. And those are just the stories that are coming out this year.
I’m trying to make this art form an art form I can afford to make. Keep in mind that most stories take weeks to draft, refine, edit, polish. Right now I’ve set that goal at $1000 per story–and we’re well on our way at $677 per story. But without more subscriptions, I can’t afford to make it. Please watch the video and subscribe here. Thank you.
THE PATREON LAUNCH IS HERE! Click click clickety click click! And then contribute! Go watch the video! It’s slick as fuck! Read the FAQ for all the details! You get lots of wonderful rewards, including every short story I publish in your preferred reading format, PLUS handwritten and handmade postcards from around the world, OR your pick of my illuminated alphabet series. Pledge levels start at TWENTY-FIVE CENTS, PEOPLE.
But this Patreon isn’t just about me. It’s an economic solution for an entire art form. As I explain in the video, currently, even successful writers quit the short story game because there’s so little payoff for so much work—even though nothing is guaranteed in any creative field, it’s especially true in short fiction. That’s no one’s fault. It’s just the way that market is built right now. But it means that many writers quit writing altogether, because novels are such a comparably massive investment of time; and those short story writers who do stick it out tend to go through Amazon, because writers can make more money there than they can with indie mags.
So? Put power directly into the hands of readers, who pay the writer for the story directly. That relieves the indie publishers of bearing that financial burden. Meanwhile, those readers get introduced to an indie publisher they might not have heard about before. Everyone wins.
IN GENERAL: Cut out the middlepeople. Support artists directly, whether it’s me or someone else. But if you want it to be me, proceed directly here, my love.
My long-awaited Patreon video is coming soon. In the meantime? Here are the outtakes.
Stay tuned ;)
HEY. I’m getting asked if I can sign copies of The Girl in the Road as holiday gifts, for local and national giftees, and the answer is YES, I’m delighted to! Here’s what you do:
- Call Letters Bookshop in Durham, NC, at (919) 973-2573 or go to their web site at lettersbookshop.com.
- Specify for whom your copy should be signed, with correct name spelling!, and any message or doodle requests (muahahaha).
- If you need to have it delivered somewhere nationally, THEY SHIP.
- I GO TO THE PHYSICAL BOOKSTORE AND DO THAT WHICH THOU HADST BIDDEST IN STEP #2
- There IS no fourth step. JUST MY KEESES
Photo: Hijras getting dressed in Bangladesh. Source: Al Jazeera.
Spoilers for The Girl in the Road.
Last week, a reader named named S. Qiouyi Lu finished The Girl in the Road and tweeted about it. They loved it, for the most part, but were upset by the treatment of the character Mohini, a trans woman hijra. I responded by saying I understood that it was upsetting, and that I’d be happy to share my narrative reasoning. Lu responded that my reasoning was beside the point. It wasn’t a problem that Mohini was trans, or even that she was the victim of violence. It’s that violence was the narrative of the only trans person in the book.
As Lu pointed out, I could have made any of the other characters in the books trans—Lucia, Arjuna, even Meena herself—and then, trans people would have more than a “single story,” as Adichie famously put it. The fact that I didn’t was the result of my failing to fully examine how I’ve been conditioned.
Part of a creator’s job is to be aware of, and account for, their negative cultural conditioning. That includes racism, homophobia, colorism, sexism, transphobia, ableism—everything. If we’re aware of that conditioning, and recognize it as harmful, we then have a choice of whether to (1) replicate it in the narratives we create, with commentary; or (2) to create new narratives in which all people see themselves reflected and, therefore, valued. That valuation then translates directly into the real world. (This is one of the best pieces I know connecting those dots.)
So, I’m grateful to Lu for saying that to me, and grateful that social media allows authors and readers to have this kind of dialogue. Check out their web site—they’re a pretty damn cool artist, too.
Last week, I was on the treadmill at the YMCA late at night. On the TV was Lisa Ling’s show This Is Life, with an episode about coroners. I was watching passively, until they started showing a scene of a body going into a crematorium. I thought with a sort of dark humor, “Oh hey, that’s what happened to my mother’s body,” and kept running. And then they kept showing images, of smoke coming out of a smokestack, and the ashes and pulverized bones being scraped into a container. I started wringing my hands and shaking my head violently side to side to get whatever was coming up to go away, but I couldn’t, so I stepped to either side of the treadmill and doubled over.
I stayed that way for a long time. I was aware that everyone on the floor was looking at me and calling to me and waiting. But so much had come up that I had to get it all out, first, before I could say anything. When I finally opened my eyes, I tried to tell them, “The TV, they showed ashes, that happened to my mother, I wasn’t ready.” They were confused but very nice. They offered me a towel to dry my face. I left quickly, and drove home, and screamed a lot on the way.
It was fourteen years ago, and still.
Sometimes I think about how losing my mother young and my being solo non-monogamous are related. Not that it’s pathological or unhealthy, but just to acknowledge that there is a connection. I don’t remember very much about my home life from ages 8-16. Which is strange, because I remember everything. I was journaling at the time. I recorded all the intimate details of my school life from that time, for example. But I very rarely mentioned my mother, even though we shared the same house and the same dinner table. I shut her out, emotionally and physically, for years. I was so angry with her for getting sick. And by the time I was mature enough to try to build a better relationship with her, she was far too gone for it to have anything like the meaning I wanted it to have. She died when I was twenty. It took me years to process the guilt and regret I had (and still have) about that.
Sometimes I think that that pent-up love got saved somewhere in my body, and is coming out now.
And it’s free, and never-ending, for those who would share my skin. And sometimes I feel like no one lover could ever be able to take how much I’d want to give. Which is why I have to have many.
“Here, take this worship, displaced in time; drink deeply, it will never go dry.”
Photo: The western sky in Belize, at sunset, on November 20th, 1012. Courtesy Neave Planetarium.
I spent the better part of my working day yesterday figuring out what day my novel starts on. Then, I could figure out what the sky would have looked like, which was extremely important to the ancient Maya and, so, would have had significant bearing on their actions that day.
I had only two constraints: that the day be in the year 1012, and fall during Wayeb’, the period of “nameless days” at the end of the solar year in the Maya calendar.
In the year 1012, that period began on November 20th. Venus was in its evening star phase, the moon was waning gibbous, and—most incredibly—Mercury was transiting the sun, which only happens once every seven or eight years. In addition, that day was 10 Eb’ in the Mayan divinatory calendar (which was distinct from the solar calendar). According to the K’iche’ Maya Day Keepers in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, Eb’ is a good day for a man to ask a woman’s hand in marriage.
Well. And that answers a major unresolved plot point.
Working this way is like retro-divination. Facts provide surfaces on which my ideas can nucleate. And then new facts will constrain those ideas, which will lead to more ideas, which will lead to new facts.
And that is how a crystal grows.