So This Is The Aftermath

Less than 24 hours after I’d attempted to make this cake, this was all that remained. In my defense – and Kate’s, for that matter – we weren’t alone in eating it as quickly as possible; we’d taken it to a neighborhood dinner pretty much as soon as it was out of the oven, with me all nervous and worried that it would taste horrible (Banana and ginger cake? With dark brown sugar? And with me making it for the first time and not having had a chance to taste it before we served it… Oh, the nerves), but it was, as you can see, a success. Thankfully, no-one reported feeling the onset of dessert-based food poisoning the next day.

(Posted because I made cookies for a friends’ get-together last night, and was worried that no-one would like them – Or that baking cookies was a lame thing to do in the first place – and, lo and behold, they were all gone within an hour.)

“Jim, I Hope I Don’t Have To Listen To This Again”

I thought it would encounter difficulties,” says John Fry, with delicious understatement, down the phone from Ardent Studios in Memphis, which he founded in 1959. “I thought people would find it so unconventional and so unfriendly that we would have difficulties.” He’s remembering 1975, when Ardent’s promotions man, John King, and Jim Dickinson were visiting the major labels trying to sell a new album that had been recorded at Ardent and produced by Dickinson. “Jim used all his contacts – and he had some high-level ones, as did John. One of his friends at a large label said: ‘Jim, I find this music very disturbing.’ Another guy said to him: ‘Jim, I hope I don’t have to listen to this again.'” No one wanted the third album by the Memphis group Big Star, until it crept out in two markedly different versions on tiny labels in the UK and the US in 1978.

The Guardian has a great piece about Third/Sister Lovers by Big Star, one of my favorite albums in the whole wide world. Go read.

Crowd-Sourcing and Romantic Thinking and Word-Vomit While Still in Bed

One of my major concerns about Kickstarter projects in a general sense is that I often wonder how many of the projects actually end up in the black for their creators. This is particularly the case when it comes to writers, artists and musicians, who are famously complete shit at working through their finances anyway, but who are also, through Kickstarter tiers and through encountering production costs that were previously handled by other people, wading into financial waters they often know next to nothing about. I wonder if people understand that Kickstarter isn’t a magical ATM but a storefront, and that they are committing to running this store — production and fulfillment both — for the duration. I expect a lot of Kickstarters ultimately end up in the red because the people running them haven’t built out a business plan, and have no idea what they’re getting into.

That’s John Scalzi, talking about Amanda Palmer and Kickstarter, something that caught my eye because of something that Katie Lane and George Rohac said at last weekend’s Stumptown: That the first thing someone should do before setting up a Kickstarter is talk to an accountant. And that the first thing someone should do after reaching their Kickstarter goal is… talk to an accountant. Their point was, essentially, “You’re not getting all the money that you think you’re going to get,” because of taxes and whatnot, and me being bad with money, I’d never considered that before.

I had, during the time when I didn’t have much work coming my way – Something that seems to be changing lately, thankfully, although my posting here has been seriously affected as a result, so sorry for that – considered doing some kind of Kickstarter thing to, basically, not feel as if I was becoming a financial black hole in the household. Jeff and I talked, half-heartedly, about doing one for Wait, What, but it never really amounted to anything (That may change; we keep on wondering whether we can monetize that, given the time that we both, and Jeff especially, spends on it each week), and I came this close to Kickstartering a book I was kicking around in my head at one point. But I kept remembering talking to Erika Moen about Kickstarter earlier this year, and remembering her numerous points about why it’s not, as Scalzi put it, “a magical ATM but a storefront,” and what that actually means in terms of additional man hours and costs to fulfill all the “rewards” you’ve promised backers as part of the whole process (I remember thinking, Man, she’s really thought this through so much more than I have. She’s good at this freelance shit).

There’s a lot of… romance, perhaps? Misconceptions and preconceptions, definitely, but also a weirdly “Kickstarter pushes out the middle man and lets the fans give their money to their favorite creators, yeah” vibe to the idea of Kickstarter and related patronage-based services that is very alluring, the idea of it being somehow… purer, perhaps, or somehow better than just trying the old-fashioned way of getting a publisher/label/agent and “selling out” (man). The more I look into it, though, the more it seems like the kind of thing that you have to do properly or you’ll end up crushed, and so wrapped up in debt/obligations/nofunstuff that the creative impulse decides to take a permanent vacation.

Fresh Starts, Archive The Rest

“Inbox Zero” – that is, the mythical state where there’s nothing demanding your immediate attention in your email inbox – has finally been achieved, thanks to my deciding that I was just going to archive everything and move on no matter what. It’s been a weird, cluttered sort of a week, with my brain moving too slowly through things that really shouldn’t have taken that long, so I figured that this kind of extreme action was required. Time for a new start, right…?

Of course, now I’m convinced that I may need to de-archive a couple of things. I mean, there are a couple of action items that I really need to take care of sooner rather than later, right…?

This Is Where I Belong

The life of a freelance writer is one that, the more I live it, I suspect I’m not really cut out for; the constant waiting to find out if projects are accepted/rejected/alive/suddenlydeadwithnoexplanation/andsoonandsoon, the rejections (Whatever ego I had dried up somewhere a couple weeks ago, I suspect) and the bizarre thrill from emails that are, essentially, “You made it to the second round, but it’s just going to get harder from here on!” just because, hey, it’s not a no, right…?

I write all of that with something resembling tongue in cheek – My ego is alive, just a little tender, and I know just how impatient I am when it comes to waiting for people to just write back and say “Your idea is awesome and we want to give you $$$,” thank you very much – but it’s struck me, over the last couple of months, how different my current incarnation of freelance writerdom is from the last few years of my life, where I was essentially on staff for a couple of websites and had something along the lines of a guaranteed income every month. That’s definitely an easier life, and a less stressful one from the “Not wondering where the money is coming from” point of view, but it’s also one that messes with your attention span and sense of time: A week suddenly becomes a really long time, and everything gets blown out of proportion in the rush to be first and have a constantly updating stream of content; you run the risk of losing all sense of perspective about what’s genuinely important and what’s just noise that people will click on. As much as I have been quietly freaking out/getting depressed about my future, there’s something to be said for stepping back and smelling the metaphorical coffee every now and again.

I am amused to see this strange new trend of spam email subject lines being meals: