Simon Hawk, a classic left thumb kind of guy, is considering options for the future of Knozzle and his own sanity. But mostly Knozzle.
It’s late. The clock on the DVR reads 2:54, and the one on my computer insists it’s a minute later. I’m not tired, not in the normal sense of the word, but I suppose I could sleep if I tried. The last two weeks have passed with only four articles on Knozzle. Things are falling between the cracks. Nothing feels like it’s in the right place. My tummy is cramping and I’ve got the nastiest sulfuric belches crawling from the depths of my stomach and clawing their way out of my mouth despite valiant attempts at holding them back, each one a cloud of toxic fumes born from the gloomy marsh of the River Styx itself. To make matters worse, my spacebar has decided it only works if I use my right thumb to press it.
I’m a left thumb kind of guy.
What I’m trying to say here is simple: A number of things are out of whack. More to the point, I’m struggling to put everything back in whack, if doing such a thing is even possible. Well, not everything, but enough things to make sure I’m not the one getting whacked, if you get my meaning. Because that is exactly what it feels like when you’re behind, it feels as though each new step you take is backward, and you’re getting whacked by your own right-thumb-only spacebar.
Hey, they’re not great metaphors, but they’re my metaphors. Sometimes you need your own metaphors in play just to make sure you’re still dealing out of your own deck, even if it’s not a full one.
Allow me to tell you what’s really twisting my knickers right now. It’s pretty basic, really; what has me all confounded at the moment is survival. And maybe thrival. (What? If survive becomes survival, shouldn’t thrive become thrival? Geez, the English language is so full of half-baked rules!) Point is, we all need to survive, and most of us have some almost evolutionary mandate to thrive, to grow, to push forward rather than stagnate. Me, I’ve been stagnating, and (if the hellish odor of my oral discharges is to be believed), stagnation stinks.
I’ve been out of work now for so long it’s become a serious stain on my curriculum vitae– the kind you can’t just scrub with a little Era and toss into the washer – and after hundreds of applications, cover letters, and resumes have been ignored, discarded, or outright rejected, it appears as though I am going to have to seek out some alternate source of income. Now, I’m smart, but lacking an undergraduate degree (at the moment, the best I can field is an associates in psychology) knocks me down a peg or two for the kinds of jobs to which I would naturally take. See, I have two skills, two marketable talents, things I do with enough panache to be considered reasonably above average.
- I write.
- I speak.
Heck, I’m not even particularly funny. Any humor you’ve picked up from this site is a mere byproduct of hours of wrestling with big, hairy pun-bears. No, I cannot pull joke after laughable joke out of my hat in classic ad lib fashion, and sometimes when I go back over the words I’ve committed to pixels for this site, I wonder who I’ve frightened off next, so heavy-handed are some of my punch lines. But I can write, and I can speak. And even the second one needs a little clarification, because while I can speak very well once I’ve prepared – I don’t need to memorize, but at least give me time to go over my notes – I stutter and stammer through sentences if I’m doing things off the cuff.
Okay, so I can write. I do one thing well.
But really, who gets to write for a living? Novelists, for sure, and I am traveling that path with a slow but steady certainty. I have yet to arrive at my destination, of course, having not actually completed a novel. (That seems a prerequisite, you know, for being a novelist. That makes me an aspiring novelist, which is fine, except it also means I only aspire to make a novelist’s earnings.) Moreover, once the journey of tap-tap-tapping the keys is over, a whole new odyssey awaits, and one’s future is thrust with violent intent into the hands of someone who just may not have time to deal with the fact that you hit the spacebar twice after each period rather than the modern one-tap.
Granted, with the aforementioned keyboard issues and my left thumb still maintaining its spacebar dominance, the two-space problem has become less of an issue.
Who else writes for a living? I can discount a career in journalism, at least of the classic type, as most major outlets demand a bachelor’s degree even if you have a more thorough grasp of the language than your average newshound. It’s about discipline, they claim, but it seems to me the person who recognizes their own talents and manages not to put themselves in thirty thousand dollars of student loan debt because they don’t need college to teach them what they already know might be more disciplined than your average freshly minted graduate. (That person isn’t me. I lack discipline, as the Department of Education can enthusiastically attest!)
There are bloggers. This site, Knozzle, is pretty much a blog. It uses blog software, anyway. Could I blog for a living? I’d like nothing better, but let’s face it, a blogger needs an audience, and as much as my adoring fans (both of them!) love me, the ten to thirty page views this site sees a day just isn’t going to cut the mustard. (Now there’s a strange idiom. Who would have any trouble cutting mustard? It’s virtually a liquid, for goodness’ sake!) I would love nothing more than to crack wise in this space day in and day out, earning my living with huge lead-ups to bad punch lines. But about one in ten thousand blogs ever makes any income, and only one percent of those provides a decent wage for their writers. To think I could blog here for a living would be delusional.
Hey, sometimes delusions can be fun! (Does this seem a little stream-of-consciousness to you? It does to me, and I’m writing the darn thing!)
There’s a solution to all of this – a way to eke out some kind of income from a blog (or from any creative endeavor) – but I find myself a bit wary of trying it, largely because it requires an audience. It’s called Patreon. What is it?
A long time ago writers didn’t sell their works. Instead, they were paid through the generosity of wealthy patrons to whom, in turn, books and poems and plays were dedicated.
Which explains why such dedications tended to be so stuffed with flattery.
Well… Patreon is sort of like that. You play the part of the wealthy patron (even if you’re not wealthy!) and I play the part of the writer. In other words, you (and others like you) donate a small amount to keep me doing what I do. On the individual level, people who donate might get small rewards – “Thank You” notes or invites to Google Hangout Q&As or the odd fur-bearing tropical fruit.
As those small amounts start to build toward something that resembles a living wage and I reach certain milestones, I make changes that benefit both me and my readers, like adding a podcast by octogenarian Melvin Kingfisher, or posting a video of me dressed in a pink gorilla suit doing handstands in downtown Wichita. (Don’t be silly. First, I’m way too large for your average gorilla suit. Second, even at my best, I’ve never been able to manage a handstand. But I’m okay with pink. Real men can wear pink and never bat a long, dark eyelash.)
Me and my left thumb, we’re seriously considering this as an option, but without an audience, it might not be possible. For the last two months, I’ve tried a number of tactics for building that audience – from posting articles on Reddit to holding a Like-and-Share contest on Facebook – but the average number of pageviews has pretty much stayed the same since the day the site went live.
The alternative is to cut back on Knozzle to a once or twice a week thing and change gears, switching my main focus to finishing a novel in hopes I can find a publisher.
This may require some input from you, my dear and loyal and loving readership! The content itself wouldn’t change (at least not for the worse) if I set up a Patreon page, and if it’s successful, things here could get a whole lot more fun. The question is, would anyone consider sponsoring what I am doing with Knozzle? If we get back to a regular schedule of articles, horoscopes, and flash fiction, is this site worth your dime along with your time?
Meet me in the Comments section and tell me what you think!
Author’s Note: I should know better than to write an article late at night when I’m all dragged out, long after my proofreader has sauntered off to bed. Going over this after finally getting some sleep (and with the eyes of my one-woman editorial staff, Matilda Goose) revealed some issues, but thankfully none that couldn’t be edited away before being seen by too many people.