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#78 — Support my creative journey, follow the creative chaos of revision, and get a free writing guide.
Thanks to all of you who filled out the survey I shared in my last letter, in which I explored my plans to work on smaller creative experiments. The feedback so far has already sparked new ideas, offered more clarity into my work, and most importantly, given me a kind nudge to keep going.
I’d love to hear from a few more of you before I close the survey. If you’ve been reading this letter for a while and haven’t filled it out yet, could you take 2 minutes to fill out this survey? I’d really appreciate it!
Become a Patron
For the past few years, I’ve published newsletters, essays on my blog, a digital garden of notes, illustrations and animations, YouTube videos and more, all available to the public for free. The benefits and opportunities of sharing my work openly have been numerous (the biggest one of all being the friends I’ve made along the way.)
I’ve gotten feedback and questions from readers and peers about how they can support me, because they value my work a lot. I always appreciated the resonance of my work, but I always avoided asking people to support it. Honestly, I was afraid to ask. It felt like something I should only do under dire circumstances. My thinking on this has evolved in a couple of ways:
Firstly, a friend reminded me that offering options to support my work is not just about me. It gives those who truly resonate with my work an opportunity to do so. By supporting my work, you become a part of the collective movement that unfolds from it. I try to think of every piece of my work as part of a chain of creativity—I was inspired by the work of many others, and in turn, I can inspire others with my work.
Supporting an artist is not just supporting a link, but the whole chain. The energy of creativity compounds as it sparks through society. Supporters and patrons that fuel the work are as crucial as the artists who create it.
Secondly, I’m now engaged in an experiment to see if I can make a living out of creative work. I have a lot of ambitious ideas of what I want to build in the future, and I can’t do it alone. It’s crucial that I seek support through a variety of channels—writing books, teaching workshops, and hopefully, Patron support.
You can now become a Patron of my work by making a recurring donation through Substack. To do so, visit the subscription page for this newsletter (or click on the button below), and select a paid support tier.
(You’ll need to be logged into a Substack account to subscribe to a paid plan. If you have any issues, you can reply to this email, leave a comment, or DM me on Twitter @daretorant and I’ll help you sort it out. Thank you!)
A few reasons why you might want to become a Patron:
You’ve been reading and absorbing my creative work, it has impacted you positively, and you really want to show your appreciation
You resonate with my work (e.g. polymathic lifestyles, creativity, self-awareness) and want to encourage me to keep going
Supporting independent creators trailblazing new paths is an important part of your values
You have your own reasons (I’d love to hear them!)
I also plan to offer Patron-only perks such as occasional exclusive events, which I’ll share more details on later. (That said, I’d encourage you to become a Patron because you want to support my work, rather than for bonus perks.)
By donating, you send me a strong signal to keep going. Click here to choose a subscription plan and become a Patron.
I’ll continue sharing my creative journals in this newsletter, and they’ll continue to be accessible to everyone for free. Donating is completely optional, and will not affect access to these posts. Whether or not you decide to become a Patron, I want to reiterate my sincere appreciation for all of you wonderful readers! I’m grateful for you all.
Thank you for your time, attention, and engagement with my work.
Revisions as Generations
I’m now onto the fifth fable (out of seven) in the revisions phase for my upcoming book of fables. Whenever I get into revising a story, I start with a list of tasks that I’d like to work on. Some of these tasks come from things I noticed after writing the previous draft, others come from my editor, and others still come from readers and fellow writers in my community.
The hard part is choosing. Even when I know what I want to do, the act of revising creates new ideas, which further complicates the task of choosing. Marsha McSpadden’s latest newsletter articulates the challenge and offers some good advice here:
One of the problems to my mind regarding revision is the sheer scope of it. It seems so overwhelming. Consider: There is no wrong choice. Any direction you take will lead you somewhere. Sometimes when I have an idea that will blow things open, I jot down a quick list of ramifications. If I change this, what is gained? How does it change relationships? Would it add more friction / urgency / stakes?
It’s helpful to be reminded that there is no right or wrong path to take. For each story I’ve written in the book, I often do at least four or five revisions before I’m content to move on. Characters come and go, entirely storylines are tossed and reborn in another way. Sometimes I think back to those lost versions, as though they were people I once knew. I wonder how they’re doing.
Revisions are like generations of a family. Each one is unique, yet intimately tied to its parents. When it is born, its story is that of those who came before it, but it soon tells its own tale, and takes its own twists. It may go on to do great things in the world as a published piece. Or, perhaps it may die, if another is born in the line of succession.
Everything we write is uniquely infused with the physical and mental places we were in when we wrote them. A hidden fingerprint lies between the words, dancing to the tune of our spirit in the moments we wrote. In this way, each revision is unique not just because its story is different, but because you were different when you wrote it.
I’ve witnessed this cycle of revision generations play out in the editing process for one of the characters in my book. Last year, I wrote a fable which follows the journey of a racehorse. In that first version of the tale, there was a rabbit doctor who helped him with in injury. In the second revision, I decided the rabbit had to go. By the third revision, I forgot all about the rabbit.
Yesterday, a full six months after the first version was written, I was editing the story for the fourth revision. The rabbit was reborn! But something was different about him. This reborn rabbit was no doctor, but rather an enterprising rabbit who made a living training horses. He came back just in time as a new idea; a perfect solution to a narrative problem I was struggling with.
Save your revisions. One day, they might return the favor.
Given this character’s unique journey, I felt compelled to do a quick sketch of him. A cunning bunny to behold:
Oh, and just for fun, here’s a little behind-the-scenes process video:
P.S. If you use Procreate for iPad, you can export a time-lapse video from any of your existing canvases! And if you’re looking to learn more about drawing with Procreate, check out this recording of my live session with Nate Kadlac: Drawing for Writers: Procreate 101.
Over the years, I’ve been slowly compiling a free writing guide on my website. If you’ve checked it out before, I recently updated the guide to include three new sections you might enjoy:
Low Stakes, Strong Takes — Instead of dumping all of our work into the ocean of public social media, we can share it in controlled environments. We can let it swim in friendly waters—streams and bays, rivers and lakes. There is an entire spectrum of sharing between private and public—you might call it semi-public sharing.
How to Ask for Feedback — Great feedback is a gift, but most feedback isn’t great. It takes a lot of intention, practice, and self-awareness to master the art of giving feedback. With a few adjustments to our approach, we can dramatically improve the effectiveness of the feedback we get, and protect our peace in the process.
Peeling the Onion — I like to think of writing as peeling layers from the onion of my mind. Each layer is meaningful, but it is just one layer of many. If what I’m writing now is just the outer layers, what lies hidden beneath?
I’ll leave you with a little poem to ponder:
do not wonder
“is my song pretty?”
Until next time,