Limitations and Lessons

I am spending a great deal of time trying to make ends meet instead of putting that energy toward the heart of my efforts. In the years since I took an interest in writing about creating a more equal future, inequality has grown exponentially. The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. At the same time, the cost of living is increasing. I know I’m not the only one struggling financially as an artist. I’m not even sure if I should spend so much time painting when my audience demands my writing more.

Almost every day I examine my finances and find myself coming up short. My accounts are overdrawn, my credit is awful, and bills loom that I can’t pay without asking for help. Thankfully I have a solid support system willing to pool funds to help me. Friends and followers can usually send a little to help with $5 to $20 apiece. Sometimes I get a bigger tip or Patreon pledge. Basically, it’s not a sustainable model. I can’t keep asking friends to bail me out. I need to get past this plateau.

I have plateaued in growing my audience. I made more money in the months from January to April than I did in May and June. I have been spending more time fundraising than blogging. People don’t want to indefinitely give out of pity for desperation. They want to see results, and the fact is, I’ve been “working on” a book for seven years of struggling to survive. Where are the writings that promised such a passionate drive to change the world?

I’m learning on a steep curve. It’s difficult to produce content when my perspective is constantly shifting. I don’t write with such confidence anymore because I’m being humbled. In therapy, I’m processing the emotions surrounding my educational neglect. I’m angry that I’m finally getting the basics at the age of 29. I’m upset that I spent so much of my high school years focusing on things that didn’t really matter. I feel like my time was wasted, pulled out from under me when I didn’t know any better. There is so much I didn’t know, things it feels like everyone else did. My writings have been more narrow-minded than I could have imagined because I was uninformed and uneducated.

School has brought growing pains. I covered three history modules this quarter, and the readings were heavy. I didn’t know about a lot of the wars, and I was angry and sad about the amount of death. I was shocked at some of the warfare tactics described, even though it was just a general overview. I also had to drop my Science course because I simply couldn’t study too much at once. Someone without my limitations might find it easy to just take their GED and be done. I am taking it slow because I must, and I’m not sure exactly when I’ll get all my credits to graduate from high school.

Moreover, my physical limitations are constantly reminding me that creating more is impossible. I do most of my work sitting in bed after taking things like Aleve or Tylenol. Some days I can’t do anything productive at all. I begin each day expecting myself to be able to accomplish more than I actually can. Top priorities include medical appointments, and doing my prescribed exercises from physical and occupational therapy. I am doing everything I can to reduce costs. I cook sometimes, but even cooking is not always possible. I wish I could do more. I want to. I am frustrated with my body for being so sore and fatigued.

I am so incredibly grateful for the people who’ve helped wherever possible. One of my supporters is paying for a cleaning service to deep clean my apartment once a week, and it has made a world of difference. I don’t have to do nearly as much. Honestly they’re doing what I wasn’t managing to do at all, like sweeping and mopping. I hadn’t done that in months.

All of that to say: there’s a lot on my plate. I’m hardly finding time to write, and when I do, it takes several sittings to produce a post. That’s why there’s been hardly anything published this year. I don’t know if I can promise that I’ll write more frequently soon. I am refining my process, and that takes time and diligence and energy. On the plus side, the quality of my writing is taking priority over its quantity.

To conclude this, I want to break down what concrete things you’ll see if I can meet my goals:

An end to fundraising for needs as they arise.

  • I want to stop tweeting and posting constantly to meet my needs individually. One of my generous supporters used a good word for it, “piecemeal.”
  • To make this happen, I need my Patreon to gain more pledges. Whether you can spare $1 or $100 per month or something in between, this counts as a raise on my monthly paycheck.
  • I turn 30 in July, and the best birthday gift I can ask for is financial relief.
  • My June paycheck, after transfer and Patreon fees, came to $818.27 – just enough to cover my half of rent and not much else. To realistically meet my needs, I need to double that.
  • If you are already among my 100+ patrons, I cannot thank you enough for keeping a roof over my head. The most important thing you can do is mention me to friends or post about why you support me.

A new site.

  • I need to change my name legally. Everywhere but on my legal and official documentation, I am known as Artemis Stardust. In my state, the cost of changing my name is $300. It will cost more to update my ID.
  • To fund this, I’ve been setting aside funds from my GiveButter campaign. GiveButter is just like GoFundMe except they work with tips instead of automatically deducting a fee from donations. So far my partner, Ryann, has gotten a legal name change, and we’ve met several needs through this fundraiser.
  • Once my name is changed, I’ll also use the fundraiser money to launch ArtStardust.com – a new blog where I’ll write and publicly display my art gallery for the first time ever. Here’s what the site looks like so far.  

Meeting these needs will mean I’m more free to write, instead of worrying about financial needs all the time. That will mean more writings and, when it’s ready, the book.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting my work. I would literally not have made it this far in life without your generosity.