For those of you not familiar with Patreon, it's a subscription site for people to support artists on a recurring basis. In essence, you'll be a patron of the arts, someone who supports artists and get special attention from such artists in return.
WHO I AM (aka WHERE I COME FROM)
At the beginning of the week, I had struggled to find my calling. All my classmates seemed so certain that they wanted to be doctors, dentists, lawyers, or whatever their parents did.
Unlike my peers, I didn't have a ready answer. I didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up. I also didn't want to do what my parents did for a living, because they often came home grumpy. I wanted my work to be something I felt passionate about, something I liked to do.
By the end of Career Week, inspiration struck.
I was an avid reader.
I loved stories.
Everyday I'd come back from home with a backpack stuffed with so many books I could hardly zip it shut. (Yes, it was heavy.) I even spent many recesses indoors (yes, I was that girl) to help the school librarian shelve books, color code spines, organize the card catalog (antique, isn't it?), and play doctor by taping up pages after a tumble or tear.
However, the school library was only so big. l eventually ran out of my favorite kinds of books to read (e.g., biographies, series, fables, myths, legends, folktales, lore). What else could I do?
(hands smack cheeks, mouth in an O, brows raised, eyes wide, silent scream)
Why didn't I think of it before?
Why, I could write stories.
That moment--when inspiration met expiration--was immense and unparalleled bliss. Cloud nine. Hands down. Swoon. Hands over heart. (Okay, I wasn't ever that dramatic. In real life.)
I was so overjoyed, though, to discover my calling that I barely contained myself when I explained to my mother what I wanted to be when I grew up. Because I lacked the proper vocabulary to tell her in Chinese, I used the English word: author.
Mother blinked, then asked me what an author was. When I explained what it was in Cantonese, elaborating that an author writes stories for people to read, the beginnings of a grimace formed on my mother's brow-furrowed face.
"What kind of people do that?"
At a loss for an answer, my only defense came when I rescued a new acquisition from the school library. I'd especially kept the books as wrinkle-free as possible. These babies were sacred.
The book I retrieved was a freshly re-released paperback from Gertrude Chandler Warner's Boxcar Children series. I dutifully--gingerly--showed my mother this prime example of someone who actually had a career in writing stories.
"She's an author!" I answered proudly, buzzing with enthusiasm.
"Who do you know actually has that kind of job?"
Obviously, of course published authors are published. What my mother meant was: Who in our (immigrant) community of (Chinese) people (in the U.S.A.) did thatfor a living?
Of course, I couldn't think of anyone. In fact, every story I'd read so far was largely written by non-Chinese people--by Americans. White folks.
Translation: If you're not a white person, can you actually be an author?
My mind drew a blank. My shoulders sagged. My chest caved in. No one I knew wrote anything, not the next door neighbor, not anyone we had met, not anyone we knew.
"Can you really make a living from this?"
That last question became the proverbial nail in the coffin for me, one that sealed the writing career gateway for the next thirty-ish years of my life. I never saw writing as a viable career anymore. In the space of minutes, I internalized and relegated creative writing to the level of a childhood hobby.
Nevertheless, the eight-year-old me then fumbled for an answer and replied, "I can do what this author did. I can teach kids during the year, then write during the summers." Thank you, Gertrude.
I knew I'd settled. I had accommodated my vision, my calling. I'd given up on myself, my dream. Yet, I mustered the biggest smile I could, even though inside every sense of pride and zealous awareness had deflated to despondency.
Thirty-ish years later, I've come full circle. I've embraced the part of myself thatsings when I put words on the page, on the screen, in print. I love creative writing, its transformational power of making peace with our pasts and being fully present for our future. I also absolutely adore and find it utterly breathtaking when I myself as a reader am struck by the the amazing impact a writer speaking one's truth can have on readers.
And so, I write. I have to. I must.
WHAT ART I'VE PRODUCED THUS FAR
Besides, what I feel called to write varies and often isn't considered marketable because of the genre-blending. Mainstream publishers wouldn't know where to put me and my current work.
That wasn't true over ten years ago, when my personal narratives were anthologized in a few traditionally published books. The most popular book that still makes some sort of bleep today is Yell-Oh Girls! Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian American.
I also dabbled in children's fiction since. Name Games: A Multicultural Children's Story was initially published as Name Games in an award-winning international literary magazine called Skipping Stones. The story stars a Nigerian American girl whose best friend is Chinese and whose name could be interpreted as something derogatory in Spanish. I loved exploring the cross-cultural spaces that our increasingly globalized urban areas pose upon our children in this story.
Since 2011, when my first bilingual children's nonfiction picture book came out, I have been independently published in ebooks, audiobooks, and paperbacks. I went on to edit an anthology of writings for new mothers, addressing in particular the tough and delicate challenges of the fourth trimester and first year postpartum with Baby #1. This book went on to make two #1 Amazon Bestselling Lists in Motherhood and Parenting.
I've even blended genres in my latest work, Birth Formations, which integrates lessons learned in the healing arts, in mindfulness, and in birth.
WORKS I'D LIKE TO PRODUCE
So I'll strive to describe what I am doing and what I plan to do at best.
Part memoir, part self-help, part Buddhist, Birth Formations: What Multiple Home Births Teach About Living, Laboring, and Mothering in the Now informs my next work about loss and gain that draws heavily from memoir and integrates applications and insights from Buddhism.
Besides the practical "proof" I've manifested out of Buddhist practice, I also have projects I've tabled indefinitely. This includes my reflections on parenting my children in their three homelands: Nigeria, Hong Kong (China) and United States of America. Someday, I'd like to add these reflections to the literature available on multicultural, interracial, and mixed race America.
Despite receiving my Diplomate in Homeopathy with a special emphasis in Flower Essences, I have yet to reconnect with the energy of flowers and share the gifts of their stories. That project hasn't quite taken shape yet, in terms of structure and core content.
In addition, I have some groundbreaking work to publish in feng shui astrology, a field in which I studied in an intense year-long classical feng shui program. I'm really excited to get this project off the ground.
I also have other children's books with text and translations that have yet to be put out in digital and paperback formats. Formatting text for publication requires far less legwork than formatting text and images. Even more legwork is required when the formatted text has foreign accents and/or characters that do not show up correctly in an ereader.
For the bullet point format, these are the projects I'm itching to produce:
- raising children in their three homelands of Asia, Africa and America
- learning and integrating life lessons from flowers
- loss-benefit life analysis from a spiritual (Buddhist) perspective
- some groundbreaking stuff I'd really like to share about feng shui astrology from an intense year-long study of classical feng shui
- some children's picture books, text already translated, but still in need of photography, formatting, editing, etc.
- Miscellaneous inspirations that combine photography, poetry and/or more!
So yes, I have a lot of projects in the works. That's great. That's exciting. That's cool. They keep me chugging along, showing me the light at the end of the tunnel.
However, as a full-time mother of young children who only gets to write when the kiddos get to bed, I am not operating at the pace and capacity I truly desire. Given my exhaustion levels and time constraints, I've had zero energy to arrange babysitting swaps, little money earned from book sales to hire babysitters, and definitely no peace of mind to even seek representation to sell and distribute my content to larger audiences.
The little time I do have I scrape together to put words to the page and get it onto a retail site to sell.
WHY I'M ON PATREON
On a monthly basis.
Although Patreon allows support for an amount per "thing," the monthly support works better for me. Because? Well...
Let's face it. I'm a mother of three young children. I won't be producing any quality end product anytime soon. So you won't be charged one big lump sum when a product is actually completed. Instead, you are investing something every month, in a sustainable way, to get me closer to producing product.
With the monthly prompting, support and accountability to produce, I feel encouraged, spurred and inspired to produce something. To get my creations out in the world. In an interactive and sustainable way.
Already, behind the scenes I'm doing a lot of things that have gone unpaid:
- Newsletter announcements, specials, new releases, deals, exclusives
- Website updates, banners, images, hosting fees, domain renewals, forwarding/redirects
- Blog updates
- Writing, rewriting, editing, formatting, manuscript preparation for ebooks
- Formatting and production for audiobooks
- Formatting and production for paperbacks
- Cover image research, purchase/attribution, graphic alterations, proper credits
- Uploading direct to retail sites and aggregators
- Business expense and income tracking for tax return filing purposes
- And SO much more!
Ideally, I'd like to produce more than one book a year. With your patronage, I'd like to bump up my annual production targets. How awesome I'd feel when I can deliver up to 12 works (digital, audio, paperback, translations) per year!
Ultimately, I'd like to be able to write for a living. I'd like my art to support my family of five in a place that has quite a high standard of living. Okay, it's not quite New York City. However, the East Bay is definitely impacted by the economic push-pulls in a metropolitan area.
On Patreon, I've listed milestone goals, things I'm striving for in getting to a full-time livelihood in the arts:
- At $500 per month, your patronage will allow me to remove ads on my website, thus making the website self-supported. This frees me up to produce 2-3 things (e.g., written, audio, and/or visual work) per month. As a thank you, I can create an awesome, laugh-out-loud goofy, celebratory video to replace the ads!
- At $1000 per month, I'll get to update my website, have it more interactive. I'd get to produce 4-5 things (e.g., written, audio, and/or visual work) per month. As a thank you, every current patron will get an autograph copy of a digital poster of flowers paired with a poem!
- At $2500 per month, I can devote half my time to creative pursuits, thus quickening the completion of the backlog of awesome projects I've got in the pipeline. As a thank you, every current patron will get the first two free ebooks in a series of your choice.
- At $5000 per month, I'd be able to accomplish my ultimate dream -- to support my family of five with my art. I'd be over the moon! So many more doors will open for my books -- foreign translations (other than Chinese), audiobooks, foreign audiobooks, etc. As a thank you, every current subscriber will get two free audiobooks of your choice.
REWARDS (aka MY THANK YOU GIFTS)
Patreon modernizes such a concept, allowing artists to receive patronage online. It's up to you how much you can pay. You can put a cap (e.g., no more than $15 a month) so you never go over budget. Your credit card is charged at the end of each month. You can cancel any time.
In return, I can offer special attention when different minimums are reached. I can deliver these rewards at the beginning of each month after credit cards have been charged. Your monthly tip every month is exactly what will get me closer to my goal every month. Each tip tier includes previous tiers' rewards. So if you were paying $3 per month, you'd get both the $1 reward as well as the $3 reward.
For $1 a month, I offer my gratitude and appreciation as well as access to my patron-only feed. I'll post my current inspirations (quotes/images/anything goes), writing progress, and early information on new projects as they develop. You'll also get to post your comments, too. This is interactive. Let's build community!
Spike it up to $10 per month, and you'll get access to a monthly Q&A video/webcast/montage, in which I'll feature intriguing/inspiring images and/or answer questions from my $10 patrons. I might cut/paste images and/or type up responses to questions in a .pdf instead of doing a video .mov/.mp4, whatever works best.
Make the leap to $100 per month, and you're essentially forming my inner circle of angel investors. Each month, I'll take the topmost favorite (most comments/most likes/most faves) post of mine to do an author read-aloud. You'll hear the tone, the pace, the wonder, or whatever feelings behind the words in the piece in an .mp3.
PERSONALIZED MP3 READ-ALOUD
At $500 per month, you are the lifeblood that keeps me chugging along and churning things out. Each month, pick your favorite post of mine and I'll do an author read-aloud. You'll hear the tone, the pace, the wonder, or whatever feelings behind the words in the piece in an .mp3.
TOP TIER REWARD IS A WAAAAAY PERSONALIZED THANK YOU!
Get to $1000 per month, and we'll need to talk. :-) No sense in giving a reward for something that won't be appreciated, right? We'll figure this out!
HOW PATREON WORKS
The way I've set up my Patreon page, however, allows you to designate your support per MONTH instead of per piece of content I generate.
All patrons are charged at the end of the month. You can cancel any time during the month and be charged nothing.
YOUR SUPPORT MATTERS!
That's why I'm so excited to participate in Patreon. I'm looking forward to generating content, no matter how small, EVERY MONTH on Patreon from now on.
As you've seen above, I actually have quite a few projects in the pipeline. I hope I can get them out into the world as soon as I possibly can.
If you want to read just as long a version about who I am, what I'm up to, how I'd like to get there, and how you can participate to get all this awesomeness out there, then visit my Patreon Page: http://www.patreon.com/GloriaNg
P.S. Interested in my past work? Visit my author page at:
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