New Year New You – Reflections, Two Years Later

So, Miss Sugar did some reflecting on the as-of-now results (out-growths? Maybe that’s a better term?) of her New Year New You experiment.
So I thought I’d jump on that bandwagon and have a look at my own goals from Solstice 2011.
Specifically, I want to look at this:

I want my LIFE to be this glorious mash-up of art and sex and joy and beauty, I want my LIFE to be built on and fueled by, and in a symbiotic relationship with, pleasure in all its many forms.

I spent last summer learning how to structure a novel, and one of the key must-haves for the main character is a time-bound and measurable goal.
The above is not a time-bound or particularly measurable goal.
It’s an admirable goal, one that I still deeply want to achieve, but it’s not something like “finish a novel” or “update my etsy site once a month”.
Never the less, I do feel like I made some (nebulous, granted) progress.
At the end of 2011, I was working a temp job. I’ve worked one temp job in the past year, and I did it in a situation where my wife had been laid off unexpectedly and I needed to make sure the rent got paid. Otherwise, I’ve been coving my portion of the rent (typically about 1/3) plus the vast majority of our groceries and our various hotel bills and registration fees (two conventions – The Feminist Porn Awards back in April, and Unholy Harvest this past October) through my work with a queer-and-trans health organization (the day job), art modeling, fetish work & glamour modeling, craft sales (very, VERY limited), freelance writing (mostly content and landing pages), and transcription work.
Which is pretty good, as far as making a living goes. I wouldn’t be able to do it (at least not like this) if I didn’t have my wife contributing to our household income as well. But I’m holding up my end of things, even if it is by the skin of my teeth.
I have to tell you, from a “making money” perspective, things are… a little demoralizing, in spite of all that. My craft business is feeling like a non-starter[1]. Which is not the end of the world, but it’s still… frustrating. When someone buys a piece of my work, I am joyful and motivated to make a dozen more. But real-time craft shows aren’t reliably profitable enough (I don’t think I’ve ever failed to make my table fee back, so it’s not like I’m in the hole, but there have been a number of times when that’s all I’m managed, and it’s felt like a real waste of a day) for me to be confident in shelling out for table fees that I can only aford if I make money at the show. Online sales are rare – loved, but rare. I know that I’m happier making items for my home and as gifts (where I know they’ll either be used or – at the very least – be removed from my house) than I am making items for sales that might never come to fruition.
I didn’t get a whole lot of modeling last semester. I got some, thank goodness, and what I got was good money. But not as much as I might have. I’ve sent out my every-four-months email saying that I’m taking bookings for January-April, but I’ve only had one response (I’ll send another one out in early January, though, once the schools have started up again). The woman who reliably hired me for a full week (~18-22 hours at $20/hr) of modeling, twice a year, isn’t working this year (crap). Currently, I’m looking at alternatives, sending out applications, and hoping that I can get some more reliable (and/or more profitable) work in short order.
It’s really easy for me to get distracted by money.
I mean, go figure, right? This stuff that one needs to get by, day to day, is kind of a big deal, even if I wish it wasn’t. It’s really easy to get hung up on things like “If I’m doing crafts “for fun” (home use), rather than sale, then… why am I treating this as anything other than a hobby?” or “If I rarely get accepted for publication, hate the main character in my novel-in-progress, and rarely get paid when I *do* get published… why am I not just writing fanfic and finding a “real job[2]” to cover the bills instead of insisting on calling myself A Writer?” or various other variations on the theme of “I’m not making a realiable living[3] wage, so why am I calling myself a professional artist, again?”
And that distraction comes into play when I consider where I’m at in relation to that previously stated goal.

I want my LIFE to be this glorious mash-up of art and sex and joy and beauty, I want my LIFE to be built on and fueled by, and in a symbiotic relationship with, pleasure in all its many forms.

So where am I on this, and what steps am I taking to further it?
I spend a lot of my time being creative. Some of that is working on The Novel and other written projects (“Poly and Power: Queer Women Writing On the Intersections of Consensual Non-Monogamy and Power-Exchange” and “Eat The Seasons” potentially also titled “The Year of the Pig”), but a lot of it comes out in home-crafts like candle making, weaving, spinning, knitting, and (oh hell yeah) cooking.
The cooking, in particular, fits into the hedonism/pleasure part of that goal.
I’m supporting my wife as she builds her dream career as a cobbler and custom leather worker (it’s going rather well – she’s looking for shop space at the moment, and if she can make that happen, then we’re golden), which means I’m supporting pleasure and creativity and the making of beautiful things in the life of someone near and dear to me. Which I think is part of this deal.
I’m trying to find ways to get more and better-paying fetish-related gigs, partially because they’re fun and I like them, and partially because I think they’re in line with Where I Want To Go.
I’m looking forward to attending the Feminist Porn Conference (two days this coming year!) in April, and potentially going to Playground (we’ll see what their workshop line-up is like) in November.
I’ve signed up for a course on spirit work run by a kinky-type (I think) who gets stuff like ordeal rituals (which are connected to some of the stuff I do), and I’m working my way through Radical Ecstasy as well. I took a leather leadership course last year (which got cancelled part way through, but still), and started the very earliest parts of prepping for editing an anthology (finding a publisher being a big one – I think I’ve got one, so yay – and figuring out what I actually want the book to be about – also pretty much sorted). I’m going out to a leather-dyke bar night that happens to include a lot of karaoke, which means that I’m (eating really good locally-sourced food and) singing a lot more than I was this time last year. I continue to run my Poly and Power Salons. I’m paying attention to when magical/energetic stuff Happens to/through me, and trying to sort out how that works.
I’m working at it, is what I’m getting at.
I told my wife what my goal was/is, and she said “It kinda looks like you’re accomplishing that really well.”
And I said “Uh…” … Because there’s that unspoken “and make money at it” part that’s hard to shake. But, yeah. I’m getting there. I’m doing it. Now all I need to do is (A) do it more, and (B) get it to pay me reliably.
Wish me luck on those two fronts. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] I read that book, Book Yourself Solid (Illustrated Version), and… yeah. Maybe it’s because I offer a product rather than a service, but there’s no cute quip of a tag-line for why people would by my jewelry or soap or lip balm instead of the next eco-freak’s, magical properties or no magical properties. “Pick-me-up treats made with Magic in Mind”? Accurate? Sure. But not necessarily something that makes me stand out all that much. Anyway…
[2] Meaning, of course, a job that eats 8 hours of my day, plus commute, give me zero personal fulfilment, stunts my creativity, probably also pays me inadiquately, and makes me want to cry in my cubical under Big Brother’s snearing, overpaid nose.
[3] Meaning “survival wage” because “poverty line” is so far above my personal gross income that it’s a distant dream, quite frankly.

7 responses to “New Year New You – Reflections, Two Years Later

  1. Pingback: Full Moon – Long Nights Moon Crests (and Wanes) | Urban Meliad

  2. I just nosed around your blogs and followed the ones I hadn’t noticed before. You still have a link up to the defunct Voices of Venus blog on several of them, but no link to an online modelling portfolio – do you have one? I made a rec post for Amazon Creations and your blogs on Tumblr, and would have included a photo of your modelling work. Beauty sells! (Especially on Tumblr.)

    • Hey,
      The modeling portfolio is here:
      Definitely NSFW if you work in an office or otherwise have people looking over your shoulder. Lots of naked and nearly-naked pictures, ’cause that’s how I roll. 🙂

      • Lovely! Maybe you should link that to your blogs, or at least Syrens – more Google traffic, more chance discovery for modelling gigs, and maybe a SFW on a widget on the sidebar of blogs in addition to the tiny icon, to make the blogs more distinct to the Amazon brand, sort of thing. You know more about getting modelling gigs than I do, though.

        I noticed Model Mayhem greys out some NSFW photos, but not all of them; probably depending on what they count as NSFW. Someday that face will be an author photo!

      • Getting modeling gigs largely involves emailing all the art schools in town plus responding to ads on craigslist.
        Once upon a time, I linked my portfolio (modeling) to Syrens (rather than the other way around), and I lost work because of it. There are hobby photographers in this town who are scared shittless of feminists. I tell ya. So I took the link down.

        MM greys out the NSFW stuff (their definition being “nipples/genitals showing” for the most part) *if* you mark it as such. I usually do, but so much of my work is nude or close to it that if I want to put a new piece up as my “cover”, I need to mark it as “safe”.

  3. Best of luck! Making money as an artist is incredibly hard, which is why I always went the cubicle way (although I never even had my own cubicle, it would have been an improvement – no privacy on open-floor offices). I’m pretty sure it’s something I’ll regret on my death bed. Of course I’ve made a change now, and I know I’m borrowing against an uncertain future, but I’m just happy to be going in a different direction.

    Are your jewelry pieces blessed in any way? If they are, it isn’t immediately apparent on the Etsy site. I’ve never made mone off Etsy, though… I guess it’s a question of raising you profile, how much it’s possible to make.

    • I like the direction you’re going in. It’s really cool. 🙂
      Re: Jewelry: Sometimes. The soaps and candles are, while the jewelry is charged when appropriate, but it’s not an all-the-time thing. Like the turquoise earrings I did (not currently listed) that are meant to bring calm and comfort to a stressed-out wearer who needs to slow down.
      Maybe it should be.

      I gather that the trick with Etsy is to pull people to one’s shop from outside of the etsy site. I’m just not at all sure how to do that effectively. Pinterest is a way to up page views, certainly, but it won’t necessarily up the number of purchases. So…

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