Cover of novel The Complex, by Michael Walters

Patreon: one month in

Patreon: one month in

It’s been a month since I set up a Patreon creator account and started posting a few things only for patrons, and it feels like a good time to stop and take stock. The initial idea was to explore publishing short stories behind a paywall, to try to motivate myself to finish smaller pieces because there was an expectation, and to put a symbolic stake in the ground that said, I want to have some control over when I publish my work, and, no matter how little it might be, I want to be paid for it. Alongside that statement of confidence, I was full of self-doubt, and deep down I knew there was no way I could publish short stories that often and still finish the novel.

I wasn’t planning on starting a podcast, but that’s what I’ve done. I found YouTube videos about getting started, then spent a hundred quid on a microphone, which is a bit mad for a gut feeling, but really a microphone is the only expense in doing it, and I didn’t want to have to listen to my own voice at all, never mind in terrible quality audio. The first recording was a test, just thirty seconds, to prove I could go from talking into a mic to seeing something appear on the web. I published three more episodes (episodes!) of the show (the show!) in February, trying something new each time and building confidence.

I’m still not sure what its purpose is, but if I had to say right now, it could be a meta podcast about my creative life for people who want to support me and my work, and I can imagine a public parallel podcast in the near future that is more formal, and perhaps linked with my next book.

All of that is very different to the initial idea of publishing short stories. I have a handful of glorious patrons, most of whom have implied that they are supporting my work, whether for one month or many more, and not necessarily expecting anything in return. Capitalism trains us to think in transactions, to get something for our money, but a patron isn’t necessarily thinking that way, which is a beautiful reminder of the human desire to connect and help others, independent of the market.

Having said that, I do want to give people who support me something back, and the private podcast is the first thing. I’m now thinking what else I can do. I can certainly put them in the Acknowledgements of the next book, and no doubt more things will come to mind over the spring and summer. I put too much pressure on myself to finish things, substantial things, not just tweets and blog posts, and that severely hampers my creative energy. Working full-time makes time feel scarce, but the kids are getting older, the pandemic is easing, and I no longer commute. I can feel the writing knot inside me (dont call it writers block dont call it writers block dont call it writers block) loosening. I’m excited to find out what happens next.

Previous: Writing short stories on Patreon
6 Feb 2022

Next: An oblique strategy
15 Apr 2022