I’m not going to lie, folks: I’m not struggling. I see the posts from my fellow artists: out of work, facing homelessness, doubling down on their side-hustle to try to make it through this mess, and I recognize how solid my ground is. I don’t wipe my brow and give a sigh of relief. I don’t pound on my keyboard, demanding that “somebody” fix it. My very first instinct, as always, is to help.
But how? I’m not rich, not even close. My ability to remain financially stable during a global pandemic is directly tied to the same skills I’ve developed to remain successfully self-employed for almost the entirety of my adult life. I know how to create things that people want/need. I know how to adapt and innovate, and adjust my course to take advantage of the currents and the winds. These are skills I’ve taught to others, and it hasn’t been lost on me that my best students are not the ones currently offering to sell their panties on reddit.
My first thought was to try to teach more people faster, but as I am already donating my time to making masks and keeping my Etsy shops running at full speed, making a video series just isn’t plausible at the moment. Not to mention that artists need help now, and although the knowledge will certainly help them further down the line, it doesn’t meet the immediate need. I can teach the man to fish, but he’s going to starve while he’s still learning to bait the hook.
Then I started to look at what else I could sell to try to raise funds, and again, ran into the problem of a lack of time. While I have an overabundance of raw materials, they would need to be photographed, listed, and shipped, and without being able to have extra help in my workshop due to the virus, I’m already in a labor deficit.
Then it hit me. The Egodrive series is all about people who help people who need help. (Yes, that sentence is grammatically correct.) The Security Specialists of Egodrive are all just random folks who went out of their way to help others, usually at great cost or risk to themselves. I haven’t sent out any query letters this year, so the books are no closer to being published than they were last year, but they can still help people, even if just on a small scale.
I decided to put all of my un-signed titles up on Amazon as Kindle eBooks, and am using 100% of the royalties to support other people. Not only does that help balance the karma of using Amazon as a distribution service, but creates an immediate product that requires no additional labor time from me. If I survive 2020, and find the spoons to continue sending query letters, maybe I’ll find a literary agent to sell the books to a publisher, and then I can help in a much bigger way. But in the meantime, I think Remy and Rose would approve of this plan.
I set up a new Facebook page, The Ulysses Project, to feature any art I commission with the royalties. All of the art will be based on my books, so I’ll be able to use it for promotion right back into the the royalty stream, and commission more art. That’s one sexy circle, baby! – K