In a previous post (here), I started to talk about feeling like no one really has any interest in my creative works and promised another rant for another day. Well, this is that day.
Eight years ago, I started my own literary magazine, online. “’Zine” technically since it was run on no budget and for no profit. It was all about science fiction, fantasy and horror stories and poetry, when I started, and as time went on progressed into “speculative fiction,” which is really just an easy way to say all of that other stuff plus anything that doesn’t easily fit into some other genre. For my readers and contributors, I defined it as anything that questions “why not?” or “why can’t this be true?” I set up an anthology to collect all of the reader submissions that had been sent in and set up a publishing company to represent said anthology.
Last year, I set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to support creation of a second anthology with free copies to all of the contributors as well as maybe a paper version of the magazine. I got $5. On the last day.
Somewhere in all of this mess, I read a book called Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities. What happened was… There were a few pretty serious incidents of hazing and of alcohol-related deaths at various fraternities and sororities around the country and these received a great deal of national media attention, in addition to MTV’s Fraternity Life and Sorority Life “reality” shows that were anything but real. In response, the National Panhellenic Council put all of its member organizations under a media blackout. No one involved with any of these organizations were allowed to speak to the press about anything, positive or negative. Alexandra Robbins found a way around this and went “under cover” as a sorority pledge and wrote a book about her experiences.
Needless to say, controversy sells so Pledged did not paint the most flattering of pictures. Neither did MTV. Or the alcohol poisoning deaths at CU-Boulder. So I decided to use my sparkly new, Library of Congress-registered publishing company to do something productive. I started asking anywhere and everywhere I could think of for sorority members, both active and alumnae, to submit their personal stories about what sorority sisterhood is really about. One of my own sisters, from another chapter, deleted my request from one place. I sent a letter to the presidents of the National Panhellenic Council and National Pan-Hellenic Conference, asking them to circulate the information to their member sororities. I got nothing.
The idea was to collect stories. Chicken Soup style stories, happy stories, sad stories, funny stories, anything to counteract the miserable image the media was spreading. I was planning to donate the proceeds from selling the books to a female-based charity that the contributors voted on. Susan G. Komen, Take Back the Night, V-Day, the Polaris Project, RAINN, something to benefit women since sororities are all about helping girls become women and helping women be successful. – Wow, that sounded like a commercial! Someone write that down and put it in a recruitment brochure! – Anyway… I talked to some of my own sisters about it and while they thought it was a great idea and supported me in it, they didn’t feel like they had anything to contribute. But to be ignored by the heads of the NPC and NPHC was discouraging. I didn’t know where else to go – outside of Craig’s List – to get serious, legitimate stories from real sorority members. Posting an ad on Craig’s List might get stories but how would I prove they were from real sorority members? I didn’t want to put together a bunch of made up crap and call it real, thus destroying my credibility and that of the book. So I put it away and haven’t really touched it in a couple of years.
I feel like I whore myself out as much as I can without being That Guy. I feel like I am constantly promoting myself – read this, look at this, listen to this, BUY THINGS AND GIVE ME YOUR MONEY!!!!! – but still not getting anywhere. I have decided in the last few weeks that I really want to start making jewelry in mass quantities to sell it. And then that miserable, critical little voice says, “You’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on tools and supplies and have hundreds of dollars worth of costume jewelry laying around collecting dust because no one will buy it.” So I just shop and don’t buy and feel sad and feel defeated and eat ice cream. And it’s like that with everything. I have a book that six people have bought in six years. I hosted a podcast show that 10 people listened to.
I don’t want to be rich or famous. Comfortably well off and recognized on the street would be cool. I just want to make art and have people like it well enough to want to own it…for money, not for free. And I really want to do some big project – like my sorority stories – that I can donate to charity. In addition to the other things I do.
I don’t know, anymore. I guess whatever. Complaining about it here isn’t going to make it any better. But now you know.