Or, the Long Road to Patreon
Over breakfast this morning I looked into what, were it an episode of the godawful Big Bang Theory, we might call “The BT Hub Enablement Project”. Or, to put it another way, getting a Patreon.
Immediately (unsurprisingly) I started to bleed from the nose and had to go have a lie down in a dark room with a wet Maelstrom crew t-shirt over my head.
Given I’m kind of used to using WordPress now, I looked at how to put some kind of monetisation bollocks and it seems there’s an easy plugin that takes care of it through witchcraft … but to do plugins I’d need to upgrade to a business plan. Which as near as I can tell means paying WordPress 2.50 a month rent which is fair enough. But now I need to raise like 35 quid a month. That’s literally 35 people all playing a quid to read me ramble about why we’re changing Swim Leviathan’s Depths so that the Big Whale is only available to phone at certain times of the day.
Obviously I already donate to a couple of creatives – and I’m happy with my wash in general. But at the back of my mind is the nagging suspicion that if I just stopped contributing, that’d cover the internet but that’s austerity talk and we’ll have none of that here thank you very much. Even though it would literally be at least 78% easier than doing the Patreon thing. Never mind the actual writing regular stuff.
That’s one of the two bigger worries of course. At the moment I’m mostly doing this as and when I get inspired and that’s lead to sporadic content generation. I managed two months of daily updates and that proved to be a challenging schedule to keep up. I also write for my day job, and after a day of wrestling adjectives into place on a Wind of Fortune do I really want to (notionally) come home and do some more adjective wrestling? Obviously that’s a rhetorical question as putting adjectives in front of nouns is literally the only skill I have and I’m obviously doing it for fun as well as profit.
The other worry is the nagging suspicion that what I do has no value. I’ve not even got a short story in an Amazon Kindle Unlimited collection. Sure in simple word-count the boss and I have written around sixteen short novels over the last four years just in terms of Winds of War and Winds of Fortune but the quality can be pretty variable. I think. I mean the bit where I thought the recent Winds of War were terrible but people queued up to enthuse about them still makes me do my what-the-fuck face when I think about it. Its like live roplayers are just as keen on excuses to froth as to complain or sutin.
Nagging Voices and a Lifelong Commitment to Easy Mode
What else? I got the PATREON FURY prompt in November, and I’d planned to use it to write down all the reasons I wasn’t going to get a Patreon anyway but kept putting it off. I know several people who do Patreon but they are all people who produce stuff. Audio dramas, artwork, photography, roleplaying game crunch – all of which require assets that cost money. Wheras putting nouns and adjectives together costs only time and a wee bit of your soul and that.
So I guess “internet access” now counts as an asset I need to do things with? It’s still not in the same league as construction paper, sellotape, recording studios, and whatever it is people use instead of exciting dark rooms full of photographic chemicals and red lights in this digital age.
Other reasons not to do it.
I’ve already touched on content and value worries. Then we have spellchecking. Ever since the cat managed to somehow fuck my spellchecker I have to move anything I write in OpenOffice onto another platform to spell check it – and I’ve never been a big fan of spellchecking because that’s just the kind of (lazy) maverick I am.
Also easy accessibility. One of the reasons I started up on the WordPress was so I’d have somewhere to put my … essays? … about Empire and live-roleplaying where I wouldn’t have to run them past the Boss first but could also link to them on the Facebooks if I needed to. So obviously I’d want to set up a Patreon in such a way that at least some of the content is then made public an amount of time afterwards – and that’s almost always going to be the only content anyone sane would be even slightly interested in (the Empire stuff). Nobody is paying to read 250 words of prose, even if there’s a nice picture I’ve ripped off the internet.
And another thing – some of the stuff I was planning to put up is tabletop roleplaying related. Is it ethical to write something like (say) “Who are these academic drow and what are they doing?” or “Twelve random bits of colour for Perch” and then put it behind a paywall even temporarily. Fuck, is it even legal? I can probably find out but that’s just another thing on the task list moving this out of Easy Mode and into Effortland.
Oh man. Critics. It may surprise you to know that I’m sometimes a bit sensitive to criticism. I’ve been torn since I started that I get almost no feedback on the stuff I write here unless I cross-post it to Facebook (in which case the nagging voice asks why I don’t just put it on Facebook in the first place and stop pretending). I get some – but I have to downplay my response to it because of that back-of-the-head awareness that if I pay too much credence to it it will be that much more painful when someone tells me (for example) that I’m too ciswhitemale to have an opinion on diversity in live roleplaying. Once people are paying, I am (in the words of one old friend) pretty much their bitch.
What if I, say, the Usual Suspects start sending Angry E-mails to the Boss about me putting Empire-related content somewhere that paying PeeDee customers can’t see it? Is it appropriate for me to preview stuff I’m working on for my empoyer on a Patreon even temporarily? What if it leads to … conflict! I never signed up for dealing with actual complexity!
I’m also intimidated, if I can be honest for a moment. I read things other people in my vague area of expertise write and compare it to my own rambling stuff and it makes me feel complicated emotions. With the best will in the world, I am not the kind of person who is comfortable talking about “diagesis” or “bleed” or “narrative structures”. I get mildly dizzy whenever I mention “emergent narrative” even. What I do is not on the same level as an ongoing audio drama series or professional live-roleplaying photography or beautful art (or even occasionally disturbing art), or prolific tabletop roleplaying content creation. Never mind the assorted YouTube creators whose videos I watch on a morning with my Coco Pops when I should be checking the work calendar.
The Loving Support of My IT Department
As I write this, my IT Department (my partner who hates being called my IT Department but doesn’t read anything I write so it’s fine) has just asked me what e-mail address I’m linking my Patreon to so it’s all got a bit real all of a sudden.
(And don’t get me started on the shivers caused by realising I’ll have to semi-regularly check e-mail if we do this. I hate e-mail even more than I hate telephones).
This is largely her idea – well hers and Harry Harrold’s. He has been poking me about exploring Patreon for about a year – I think it’s part of a revenge plan arising from the bullying I participated in around the Musketeer game he’s running later this year. Harry has a blog of his own incidentally which you can find here. It talks about live roleplaying like its a real ting and has regular guest posters. Heck even I’m on there somewhere. Now I think of it I can’t help but notice that what he doesn’t have is a Patreon of his own despite being an organiser of high quality award-winning live-roleplaying games himself. Huh.
Anyway. My partner has now gone from “you have nothing of value to say” to “we’ve got a BT Hub to pay for” and if nothing else it’s this refreshingly straightforward attitude like this that keeps me grounded. Also now I am the sole earner in the house for a bit, we apparently need to “milk every penny” out of me so we can continue to dine on vegetarian spready cheese and wholegrain crackers and such.
I’m sure she says things like that with love.
So as she is also my Legal Department (it’s a full time job looking after a Raff), she’s ben reading terms and conditions and it looks like the plan is to post stuff directly to Patreon rather than dick about with WordPress plug-ins, and then may be cross publish some of it here after a suitable period of time. That will probably work. Assuming the formatting is straightforward enough.
Dammit. This is all becoming irritatingly real.
The Final Hurdle and the Elephant in the Room
So there’s 1,500 words containing significant amounts of whinging and self-pity, all dedicated to not confronting the real problem with getting a Patreon.
Specifically, that if I do press that button and put myself out into the marketplace, I’ll have to commit to a single consistent spelling of “live roleplaying”. Given I’m refusing to use either LRP or LARP for various complex reasons (not least of which is that if I write it out in full each time it counts as anywhere from two to three words each time rather than one), I need to work out how many words I’m going to commit to it and where the fucking hyphen goes (if there is one).
Plus I’m going to have to decide which swear words I can use in a Patreon post.
This is all starting to feel too much like hard work, I’m telling you.