On Hustling, Gratitude, and Why I Opened a Patreon Account

The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.

-Marsellus Wallace, Pulp Fiction

Throughout the course of my decade-long writing (and now publishing) career, I’ve been of a mind that the world owes me nothing. It’s a weird thing, an artist’s relationship with payment. In the same way that some might side-eye the writer for having the audacity to ask for money (whether too much or at all) for her work, the artist herself feels slightly strange about these requests, as though they are tantamount to standing on a strip of concrete on a busy thoroughfare, holding a sign, hoping for some spare change. I’m happy to report that while my stance on the world hasn’t changed (and why would it? the world is very clear in what it feels it owes me), my thoughts on receiving compensation for my work indeed have. The reason for this shift is quite simple: in the past year I’ve devoted my time to it. I’m not talking about my free time, but rather the eight hours a day or so you would devote to a job. I love this life. I am devoted to this life.

I’ll explain to you what exactly this Patreon account is, how it works, and how you’ll be helping if you contribute. Also, I’m going to attempt to dismantle the stigma placed on Patreon and other crowdfunding platforms.

Before I start any of this, however, I’d like to be completely clear: I am going to succeed. When I ran my Kickstarter campaign for Broken River, I said, “I will make a life out of this, or I will die trying.” That’s not hyperbole. I’m already successful; in five years I’ll be comfortable. Because, if I’m not anything else, I am a talented, hustling, stubborn son of a bitch.

PATREON

Let’s talk about what Patreon isn’t. You’re not paying me to do nothing. You’re not paying me to think about what I might do in the future. What you’re doing, is you’re paying me for short pieces that I actually create. If you pledge a dollar per piece, what that means is that you will donate only when that piece goes live. This is what baffles me the most about people who hate on this system: you aren’t paying for anything you’re not getting. What you agreeing to do when you pledge, is to put a dollar in my pocket when I produce something worthwhile.

For a while, I considered putting each installment of Cash on the Side up on Kindle. To my mind, Patreon is a smarter way to go about that, because it acts as a subscription service. You are agreeing to pay a small amount for every serialized piece of content that I put out, rather than waiting and paying a lump sum when that content is anthologized in a physical book. This works better for me, because I am immediately paid for my work, rather than having to wait the months it might take for Amazon or Lightning Source to pay me. This works better for you, because you get to see the series as it’s intended to be seen, on a part-by-part basis.

Of course, you don’t have to give me shit. It’s going to exist regardless. Again, this is an open guitar case. Let’s say you don’t want to spend more than five dollars a month. You set your limit at a dollar per creation, and then you set your max at five dollars. If I release seven pieces in that month, you’ve given me five dollars, and you get the other two free. That’s fine. I want you to read it. I wouldn’t put it out otherwise. There’s no paywall here. It’s just what you want to give. I think that’s rad.

It’s both a free promotion and a potential source of income. And that’s entirely up to you, and as long as you read the words, god bless whatever choice you’ve made.

GET A REAL JOB

I tend to google “x sucks” whenever I’m engaging in an activity, just to see all the sides of it. And oh man, there are a lot of Patreon haters. So I’m going to address that, because frankly I think most of the critiques are stupid, and at worst, they’re fucking insulting to me and anyone else who’s chosen this life.

There’s a pervasive idea that artists should not be paid for their art, as it is a “hobby” and “not a real job.”

It’s  not a hobby. Disc golf is a hobby. You load up the car with beer and friends, go out to a course, throw a frisbee, talk shit, and get drunk.

Writing is much more akin to other jobs I’ve had. For example, when I delivered furniture, I hated waking up early, I hated the heavy lifting, and I hated dealing with the occasional asshole. But on a moment-to-moment basis, I actually really enjoyed sitting in the truck with my friends, shooting the shit, laughing, exploring the city. So, there was a balance. When it comes to writing, I still hate waking up early, I hate that I get dizzy from hours staring at a screen, and I hate the way my neck hurts from sitting in this chair all day. But I love the act of creation, I love seeing a book come to fruition, and I love the friends I’ve made along the way deeply.

You’re not giving money to me to go hang-gliding every weekend. You’re not giving me money so that I can sit inside all day and build model train sets. You’re not giving me money to work on my golf swing. You’re choosing to donate for actual works that I have created.

TL;DR

Thank you, all of you. If you’ve bought my books, or bought a Broken River book, or shared it on Facebook/Twitter. Thank you. I actually, legitimately get a little choked up at the thought that anyone might take that time. I don’t need anything else from you. You’re perfect just the way you are. Patreon, however, gives me an opportunity, for those who can afford it, to subsidize my life a little, so that I might keep doing what I’m doing without all the bullshit. To anyone who donates, I can’t express the gratitude I feel toward you. For those who don’t, shit, I probably wouldn’t either. But I love you, just the same.

Here’s the account.

Take it easy.

Good Books I’ve Read Lately

Figured I’d do a quick roundup of some of the stuff I’ve read, recently.

First off, here’s a review I did over Blake Butler’s 300 Million for Electric Literature.

I have also been remiss in my duties as a crime fiction fan, in that I haven’t yet sung the praises of Cry Father by Benjamin Whitmer. On a sentence-by-sentence basis, this one is the king of 2014. It brings up themes that will feel familiar to the dutiful crime reader: fatherhood (obviously), responsibility, alcoholism, drug addiction, and violence. I read this one months ago and I feel like I’m still digesting it. I still don’t really know what to say, other than I felt it hard, and that I think you should read it. One of those rare “un-put-downables.” A sticking point for me, and something I’d like to discuss further, is the book’s ending, but I’m gonna save that big spoilery motherfucker for a while down the road, once it’s been widely read.

I went to see James Ellroy read at Powell’s. That was a big moment for me. There’s no one who’s influenced my writing more than that strange, tall man. I felt inspired by his showmanship, inspired by his confidence, inspired by the guts of his shtick. I couldn’t meet him, though. Jeremy Johnson and Michael Kazepis did, but I just couldn’t. It wasn’t time yet. I didn’t want to look at him and see him and have him see me. Just didn’t seem right. I like him as a writer and performer, but I didn’t want to meet him as a person. I’m still not sure why. Probably just nerves. Anyway, I read Perfidia and thought it was awesome, but probably my least-favorite of his so far. All the parts with Ashida were awesome. That procedural-type shit. I don’t know. For someone who’s so good at keeping it short, this one felt, for the first time, too big.

Young Gods by Katherine Faw Morris occupies an ever-widening space in crime fiction, a space that I dislike with a passion. That Morris cuts out a spot inside that space with deft and at times flat-out brilliant prose creates a kind of dissonance in my mind, in that this type of book represents a big problem that I whine about a lot, but it’s so well done that I liked it. It’s the story of  a thirteen-year-old girl who moves in with her pimp/drug dealer father after the death of her mother. It moves from anecdote to anecdote, in which the girl takes drugs, attempts to enlist her friend as her dad’s new trick, commits murder, and finally, in a sense, becomes her dad. It is an extraordinarily bleak book, and by the end of it I wondered what it was trying to do, exactly. The journey is fast-paced and the prose is on-point, but man am I ever tired of poverty porn, where the sharp descriptions of violence and depravity serve to move the characters, usually poor and ill, away from the reader, until it’s like we’re looking at the whole thing from space, and maybe that’s the point, but I’m still not 100% convinced as to the overall value of something like this. I’m not saying “the violence made me feel gross,” I’m saying “the violence seemed unreal.” If there’s not three-dimensions to hang it on, it just is what it is. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about. Lots of people seem to like that stuff. And, like I said, overall I liked it, too. Recommended it if you want a clinic in how to write like a demon.

And finally, I’d like to talk a little about Dogo Barry Graham’s wonderful, eye-opening Kill Your Self: Life After Ego. In the spirit of a book that is all about losing the self, and working to curb suffering by muting the ego, I’m going to make this review all about me. As of late I’ve found it increasingly difficult to let go of my anger. It’s always been a problem, that I tend to see and expect the worst from people. After reading this book, I realized that, as is typically the case, it all stems from a problem with myself. Or rather, the story I tell my self about myself.

Graham uses quick, succinct aphorisms to move the book along, never dwelling on one thought or the other. I’ve always enjoyed this about zen writing, in that even whilst explaining a koan or a deep subject, the writer typically just expresses the question in the clearest way possible, once, and then dips out. After that it’s up to you. It’s something you’re supposed to think about, and the process of thinking is the solution in and of itself.

This book is packed with a-ha moments. I reflected a lot upon reading it. In particular, I enjoyed the passage about the fishing boat, in which the owner of said vessel takes his newly-painted baby out on the water on a foggy day. Another boat bumps into his, and he turns around and starts yelling, only to find the other boat empty. The boat is always empty, but we bring our stories to it, the story that goddammit this drunk motherfucker is out here not watching where he’s going or goddammit I just got this painted and of course it gets fucked up…no. These are all stories we’re making up as we go along, all stories designed to make us the protagonist of our lives, the put-upon, the only one who “gets it.” After awhile, this becomes easier than breathing. The boat is always empty, until we fill it with our own bullshit.

The book is presented in a “take-it-or-leave-it” style. It isn’t preachy. It doesn’t want you to do this or that. It just is. And it’s so refreshing. Couldn’t recommend it more.

GOD$ FARE NO BETTER: VOLUME ONE is Available!

godscover

GOD$ FARE NO BETTER: VOLUME ONE is now available. $15 plus shipping. I’ll be doing a limited run of these in paperback, so if you’re a collector of physical books, first of all god bless you, and second of all I hope you like it. They’ll each have their own unique cover art from a different artist, and they’ll all be designed by Matthew Revert. So, you know. They’ll look nice. I’ll be doing this limited-run thing for each volume of the GOD$ series, which has developed into a sprawling epic that I didn’t want to wait three or so years to show you, which is how long I figure it’ll take between writing Danny Ames books (look for BLACK GUM GODLESS HEATHEN later this year) and standalone novels and putting out a fuckload of books every year on Broken River.

For those of you who read this when it was serialized, I can tell you this paperback version is about twice as big. So, if you know what happens, I’m not gonna pretend there’s some drastic change plotwise. But it’s denser, my first real foray into maximalism, and it has more cool subplots (like the part that deals with the King of the Shopping Carts, for instance). It’s different from anything I’ve ever done. And it’s hands-down the most fun I’ve had writing anything, ever. I spend so much time paring down the Ames novels, cutting them to the bone, it feels really cool to just be able to let whatever weird idea I have onto the page. If the Ames books are boom-bap hip hop, the GOD$ series is free-form jazz. But it’s all weird crime, and it’s all nasty.

Anyhoo, if you’d like a sample, here’s a good bit from the novel. The series revolves around a former supercop, a killer moving backwards in time, and a hitman who can unhinge his jaw like a snake and swallow his victims whole. The whole thing is being played out as a “symphony” that extra-dimensional aliens are watching from outside of time.

Until they reached the dim yellow lights of the McCallan Street Bridge their eyes were wide to the dark and the floating neon green carpets of their heart chakras and the sound of cicadas pressed against their sides and kept them from the tangles of little bluestem already wet with dew. They gripped their stomachs as the san pedro expanded.  Drennon had dumped the ugly olive powder into a bowl he’d crafted in pottery class and added filtered water and mixed the shit until it was a paste.  A teaspoon of cinnamon didn’t keep them from nearly vomiting but they both liked that this was a drug a man had to commit to.  Bassell filled a couple Ziploc bags with food dye and set a dusty overhead projector on the floor and aimed the light at the ceiling.  He pushed the dye around the bag and Drennon laid close to the hot machine and watched the colors move. When the spackle on the wall began to shift like grains of sand in the tide they both decided to head to the bridge and maybe smoke to take the edge off the nausea.

 #

Jaime Sorokolit met with his employer under the McCallan Street Bridge to collect his payment for a lawyer he’d shot in the mottled hills behind a gas station off US-93.   The desert had been cold and he’d led the crying man by the light of a copper refinery to the south to the base of a small caldera, where he shot him through the head clean and buried him shallow under a collection of volcanic stones.  He took a moment to rest, then clapped his hands together to get the dust off and sighed and turned to go when he heard a noise like castanets at the bottom of a well.  He couldn’t see in the dark and didn’t really care to investigate but after a few steps the clicking became so loud as to be unbearable and he fell to his knees, feeling the sound coming from the top of the caldera but also from inside his bones.  He covered his ears with his palms and tried shut his eyes against the vibrations but he felt his lids quiver and roll up and so he had to see what was in front of him up the hill at the rim of the caldera.  Three worms, each about ten feet high, weaving gently in the breeze like nylon puppets under a fan at a car lot.  Glowing like blacklights.  At the creatures’ apex their scales pulled back like foreskin and their beaks tittered and they drooled green.  They slid down the mountain in perfect time with each other.  Sorokolit wanted to die.  Anything to get the strobe out of his brain.

He didn’t remember anything after that.  He cradled a cup of coffee in the diner of the gas station.  When the morning blue broke over the hills it filled up with dusty employees of the refinery and Sorokolit could hear all the spoons hitting the plates and could smell the grease from the kitchen.  He tried to read the menu scrawled in chalk on the belly of the cartoon chef hanging from the wall but his eyes kept shaking in his skull and after a few blessed seconds of focus everything returned to tiny electric whirlpools.  The soup of the day is lobster bisque, he thought.

Later that night, under the bridge, Jaime Sorokolit was pondering what all went into a lobster bisque besides lobster when Mike Lecours lifted his long quiet gun and shot him through the neck. The round nicked his carotid and shredded his trachea and severed his brachial plexus, which kept him from reaching up to stem the flow of blood gushing from his neck over his new sweater and into the dirt.  Lecours had aimed for his temple, but he was drunk as hell and anxious to get the whole thing over with.  He swayed on his heels and put his gun away and watched Sorokolit fall backwards into the river.

#

From their craft above the river, the beings perceived Drennon and Bassell leaning over the railings, their smartphones extended, them desperately trying to get a picture of the flying saucer whilst being completely oblivious to the man who was nearly bled to death in the river below.  The conductor stepped away from the viewing portal and approached the podium.  His guests that night included both creators and several prominent singularities with a smattering of fans.  The consciousness shift involved in the lensing process made everyone on board sick and they shuddered at the unmistakable glacial weathering of their skin but they steadied themselves against the seats in front of them, anxious to hear the music.  It was especially exciting for the Creators, being both the designers and the products of this world, to complete a circuit to meet the things that they created that created them.

The conductor called up the hexeract on the imager behind him and the crowd felt suddenly warm with the nostalgia brought on by seeing the six cube in four dimensions, the primitive representation of their reality, their gods suddenly becoming cognizant of them.  The human characters, the boys on the railing and the dying man in the river, stretched out on either side of the crowd.  The conductor raised his hands and slowly brought them down as though pressing a needle to a record and gently folded the fifth dimension over the fourth.  The crowd sensed dying life and lives just beginning shooting off in two directions, before and after, and they felt the alien sensation of moving through space-time and they saw what happened and what happens and the conductor felt himself bursting with pride as the crowd swayed to his music.

You can order it here:

NEW SERIES “CASH ON THE SIDE” FROM J DAVID OSBORNE TO DEBUT THIS FRIDAY

On Friday I’ll be debuting a series of mine called CASH ON THE SIDE. It’s a sequence of independent (yet eventually interlinked) stories about a duffelbag full of dirty money. My goal with this was to emulate something like STRAY BULLETS and also to do my best to subvert the expectations of what a crime story is supposed to be. The first installment will be available here, at brokenriverbooks.com, and will cost $0.99. Here’s a sample:

“Marcus Tillman signed the lease to his new apartment on a Friday afternoon. That night, he slept on the floor on a pile of blankets with his wife. He dreamt of an ATM that kept spitting money at him. $3000 bills with Frederick Douglass’s face in the center. He woke up and shook off the dream and smoked a cigarette outside. Already the neighbors were up and hollering. A disheveled man carried a garage sale sign limply at his side, talking to himself. Marcus stubbed out the smoke and went back in. He fixed a pot of coffee and found a pencil in one of the boxes in the living room and set about marking the sheet the apartment manager had given him. His wife was still asleep on the floor, blankets over her head. She’d told him yesterday: “Find everything. They’re not keeping our deposit this time.” So he tried. The door was slightly broken, the wood around the latch having deteriorated to the point that he could push the door open without turning the knob. The electrical outlets hissed when he plugged in his phone. There was a little mold in the bathroom, a kitchen light that didn’t work, an A/C that sputtered and coughed, and a rather large hole behind the washer and drier that contained a dufflebag full of stacked hundred dollar bills.”

CODY GOODFELLOW’S “REPO SHARK PAN-PACIFIC PILLBUGGIN’ TOUR”

When I was eighteen (damn near ten years ago, now), one of the authors who inspired me to make this strange thing my life was Cody Goodfellow. I picked up RADIANT DAWN and RAVENOUS DUSK, his paranoid Lovecraftian epic, and thought, “Holy shit. This is what books can do.” Over the years he’d release several short story collections (SILENT WEAPONS FOR QUIET WARS, ALL-MONSTER ACTION) a novel (PERFECT UNION), and a few collaborations with indie-god John Skipp (JAKE’S WAKE, SPORE) and each time I was awed, discouraged, and encouraged. The man’s brain was so big, every sentence so fully realized, that it both showed me how far I had to go, and how beautiful it could be if I ever got there.

So you can imagine my excitement when I got the chance to publish his newest novel, REPO SHARK. It was an intimidating process, editing one of my heroes. But in the end, I think we worked well enough together to bring the world something unique and absolutely fucking bonkers.

And now, he’s going on a tour. You absolutely, 100% MUST see him read if you’re in the area. You’ll be glad you did.

THE DATES:

July 23-27: (the Sigh Co booth at) San Diego Comic-Con
July 31-August 1: (the cheapest airport motel in) Philadelphia, PA
August 6: TBA, Lanai, HI.
August 10: Maui Friends of the Library Bookstore, Kahului, HI.

THE NOVEL:

repo-shark-300dpi

I hope you go out and watch the man do his thing. It’s epic.

COVER REVEAL FOR “THE LAST PROJECTOR”

This has been the most challenging, rewarding novel I’ve ever worked on. Over the course of several edits, hours (probably days) of back-and-forth, and even an experimental stint attempting to co-edit this in real time via Google Docs, THE LAST PROJECTOR is finally ready to go out into the world as an ARC. This is a book that I think is going to be very successful, and has the potential for a huge cult following.

Here’s the back cover ad copy:

“In this hysterical fever dream of a novel, meet an unhinged paramedic turned porn director uprooted from an ever-shifting ’80s fantasy. Discover a crime that circles back through time to a far-reaching cover-up in the back of an ambulance. Reveal a manic tattoo obsession and how it conspires to ruin the integrity of a story and corrupt identity itself. Unravel the mystery surrounding three generations of women and the one secret they share. And follow two amateur terrorists, whose unlikely love story rushes headlong toward a drive-in apocalypse.”

We released the cover today, and it’s a beaut:

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Art by Joel Vollmer.

THE LAST PROJECTOR drops Halloween of this year. Please e-mail jdavidosborne@gmail.com for ARCs or interview inquiries.