For those of you who have been my Patrons and Partners for these last two years, I salute you. Thanks to your support, I have managed to create ceaselessly with the confidence there was someone who believed in my work and willing to become a Patron of the Arts.
If you know me, you know how much that means to me. I have been accused of being too proud and have struggled on this journey as a writer/artist because it is so different from my previous way of living and being. But with your support, In two years I have written 600+ articles in a variety of publications of which I will share with you.
No, you did not misread that number. In two years, I have written over 600 articles, short story chapters, articles on social justice, cultural analyses, media reviews, as well as a number of scientific, economic and business-related news articles.
- My Annual Writing Survey 2016: And a brief analysis of my social media efforts.
- My Annual Writing Survey 2015: Getting Things Done (Facebook post)
I have discovered my capacity for writing is far greater than I ever imagined. (And I imagined it was quite potent yet I had no idea of what I was truly capable of.) When I first came to Patreon, the service was still new and I had no idea of what was possible with it. I was an early adopter with no clarity as to its eventual power and capacity to change the lives of the creators who used it. I kept my ask simple and humble because I was unsure of what I had to offer or how I could share it.
My original goals were nebulous because I was still new to being an artist. I had no idea of the demands one's creativity would make on my personal life or my social one.
Writing demanded me to interact in ways I was not comfortable with:
- Going out to read my work in the public. (I was SO unprepared for this.)
- Joining organizations to help me market my work. (Of all the issues, this one has proven the most difficult. Writing the work is easy compared to marketing it.)
- Finding anthologies and magazines to sell my works to. (Part of marketing, but not...)
- Spending time with other writers and creators who are at a different point in their journey. (Who knew there were other writers?)
- Late nights creating new works. (I was familiar with this one.)
My resolution to these issues became the heart of my transformation as a writer:
- I created a platform and a brand. (I am the Answer-Man!)
- I became part of several writing teams. I am now a writer for Krypton Radio and The Good Men Project. (The pay is not great because both publications are small but plucky.)
- I helped to found a writing organization in Oakland called The Afrosurreal Writers Workshop helping new writers find their way writing Afrofuturism and surrealistic works.
- I am the proud founder of a small science fiction publication called Futura SF Magazine.
My target: $2,000 a month. Sufficient to allow me to work full-time as a writer. I decided to put a number to my request because I wasn't famous enough to just say: "Hey, give me everything you think I deserve because I have a Hugo or Nebula award."
I am working toward both of those awards, but to reach them, I need to have the time to perfect my craft. There are a number things which prevent me from doing the kind of writing needed to accomplish this goal.
My special needs son, Kimahri is my primary concern.
Story time: Once upon a time, I was a technology executive. Life was good. I had a great job with an amazing team of technologists who worked with me and there was no better life to be had. Then the Great Reset a.k.a. The Great Recession happened. In the Bay Area, this meant being over the age of 30 meant technology jobs were no longer for you unless you had an extremely narrow set of skills (programmer, developer).
Just like that, I became marginally employed and within six months as companies folded all over the country, my long-term period of employment drew to a close. I worked for nearly thirty years in a variety of corporate offices, but the climate had changed drastically. Youth became the currency of the day. A trip to Facebook showed me only the young seem to have jobs in technology corporations these days.
I was undeterred. I found other work but then the second half of the Great Reset became apparent. The kind of pay I used to make simply wouldn't happen any time soon. I resigned myself to this new state of affairs and sallied forth. However I had no idea what it would be like to raise my son without the benefit of my previous salary. However, the upside became apparent. I would get to spend FAR more time with my son and this turned out to be of great benefit to him, since none of the therapists we worked with were having much luck with his autism.
My son has progressed greatly from those early days, thanks to having so much time to spend with him. Losing my ability to find IT work became an opportunity to train my son at a level I never could have paid for if I had a job.
Instead of being a diaper-wearing, barely literate, barely speaking individual whose emotional range was, by my doctor's estimation, would be similar to a bowl of plastic fruit, my son, Kimahri is warm, friendly, intelligent, quirky and yes, still autistic. He attends a school which makes accommodations for him while he mainstreams as part of the standard education. He plays a clarinet, excels in math and sciences, hates history and English (because of the lack of structure) and he is working on his first foreign language, Chinese.
Unbeknownst to me, the turn of fortune which cost me my career, helped me raise my son to have a life far greater than any of his doctors had predicted. We are not out of the woods yet. He is now in his school and with work becoming more challenging to find, I have resorted to participating in the Algorithmic Economy (or the gig economy, depending on where you live). This has proven to be both educational and challenging often in equal measure.
Ultimately, the gig economy is unsustainable. What makes it worse is I write articles on this very subject.
The Gig Economy is driven on paying workers less each year for the same amount of work. Since the turnover is so high, few participants notice the reduction in pay each year. I noticed it because I have been a driver for Uber for three years.
Traffic in the Bay Area is literally some of the worst traffic in the United States. Rush hour lasts for four hours and by the time it clears, it's time for the return trip. Driving is more dangerous and more unpredictable. I have driven over 60,000 miles as an Uber driver with no accidents, no incidents and despite the company's reputation, my clients love me.
I push on with it because anything else prevents me from being available for my son, whose need now is greater than ever, because he is at a critical point in his development. Anyone remember high school? Few remember it fondly, especially if you were different. My son is as different as it gets. I want to be able to be there for him and this is why I continued to pursue writing. It gave me the option of working on projects in a number of ways.
I mentioned earlier I am a writer/editor for a number of small publications. These publications are still in the scrappy stage where they have lots of heart but not a lot of money. I see their potential and continue to try and work with them because it broadens my skill base and increases my visibility.
MY FINAL CHALLENGE:
My foolish pride: I have been a member of Patreon for almost two years. Why didn't I update my page sooner?
Because I was suffering from a case of foolish pride. Having worked my entire life, sometimes two jobs at a time, I never thought it would be possible for me to ever want or need the help or support of other. I was of the mind: I help people, not the other way around.
But a series of misfortunes have left my household more challenged. A beloved pet died recently and I was surprisingly emotionally affected. I believe I was vulnerable because my wife's diagnosis of kidney failure meant she would be on dialysis and the one-two punch left me reeling. Then my daughter came back home to live with us after her landlord decided he wanted to engage in the Bay Area's favorite game: raise the rents as high as the law will allow. By putting her out, he could maximize his rent between clients.
With all of these things going on, I still pushed forward. Slower. More deliberate. But it wasn't until a recent science fiction conference I attended where friends, family and social media acquaintances helped me raise funds to travel to this event in Washington D.C.
Their support made it possible to make connections, promote my writing career, and expose me to opportunities I had scarcely dreamed were possible. Many of my sponsors here dug deeper and helped with my trip and I was humbled by their belief in my work. It is with their suggestion, why I returned in an effort to fix my page and explain why the need for a change.
I have come to the conclusion I am an artist in need of patronage. Seems like a no-brainer, right?
Except I have never been keen on the idea of being an artist. I fancied myself a scientist who used creativity to augment my work. It was only once I started writing full time, just how much creativity I never tapped into. So much creativity I write almost every day. I wrote 300 articles a year were being written long before I became a member of Patreon. (I have had such numbers for the last five years running.)
But what I have learned is Patreon made it easier for me to write. The humble offerings I take home monthly, would allow me to skip part or all of a week of my driving schedule. It gave me five days of focused attention and often my best work comes at the beginning of the month during the five day window after Patreon pays out.
The rest of the month is far less productive. I still average an article a day, but the ease and quality of the first week is simply more difficult to achieve. To write the novels sitting in my living room will require more of the focus Patreon allows me.
I am embarrassed to admit, there are partially complete novels on my living floor. Since I have been driving for Uber, at the end of my day, I am simply too frazzled to even attempt them. I want to write them so badly... I mean look at this cover. Shouldn't this be a book already?
The good news is: It's mostly written. The bad news is: it still needs work.
So here's the deal: My friends tells me there are people out there who are willing to support my work. I just have to be willing to ask. Given my prideful nature, it has been a challenge for me to ask for support. Seeing what Patreon has done for me thus far, I believe it can allow me to create at a level, I have scarcely begun to reach.
So, I am asking you, dear reader: If you have come this far, join me on this journey. If all you have is $2 a month, I graciously accept. Then get all of your friends to do the same. A thousand people, at $2 a month and were done.
What do you get out of it? Besides a warm feeling? (Don't discount warm feelings, they are amazing if you experience them regularly...)
You will gain access to a wide array of my writing, some of it, never seen anywhere but on Patreon. While the bulk of my book writing goals are speculative fiction in nature, I am hoping to write other non-fiction works based on my library of writing I have done online, particularly in Quora.
In The World According to Superheroes, I will be compiling my most interesting essays on comics, comic history, and the comic industry. There isn't anything quite like this book on the market and I believe it will make a mark. Follow the link and you can get a sample of what's in store for you.
Can you give more? Absolutely. I will be working out the tiers of giving and what's available to you, if you can give at a higher level. But understand, my goal is to have you give in such a fashion it is both invisible and painless to you. If you give the equivalent of a cup of coffee a month, and then you just don't buy one cup that month, you have donated to my cause without doing anything except skipping a cup of overpriced coffee at Starbucks.
Painless donation is the key. Sharing the possibility with your friends is also a good way to help. I don't just write science fiction. I write all flavors of fantasy as well. Epic fantasy, magical realism, afrosurrealism, urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, wuxia, and alternative histories. I dabble in horror and poetry and have even taken to writing non-fiction to appear in the occasional literary journal. I would like to do more literary work as my experiences as a military person and my early corporate days were transformative in my life.
You can count on me to create journalism discussing aging, ageism, social issues, technology, science, economics and computer-related topics. Three hundred short stories, essays, articles and with your help a few collections and novels are just around the bend.
Will it be easy? I am not going to lie. No. It won't be easy. But if it were easy everyone would be doing it. Wait. Everyone IS doing it. Everyone fancies themselves a writer these days.
The difference is: Not everyone is doing it well. I have a commitment do doing it well. I have a track record of doing it right. And I intend to continue, with your help. I am going to list the most recent publications and let you catch up on the vast archive of work already in progress. A great deal of my work is available online but if we form an alliance, I will make it easier for you to find the BEST of my work right here on Patreon.
Thaddeus Howze is a prolific writer of speculative fiction, scientific, technical and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California. Thaddeus' speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, 'Hayward's Reach' (2011), a collection of short stories and 'Broken Glass' (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.
Thaddeus works as a writer and editor for two magazines, the Good Men Project, a social men's magazine as well as for Krypton Radio, a sci-fi enthusiast media station and website. He is also a freelance journalist for Polygon.com and Panel & Frame magazine. Thaddeus is the co-founder of Futura Science Fiction Magazine and one of the founding members of the Afrosurreal Writers Workshop in Oakland.
Before his career reinvention as a writer, Thaddeus was a technology executive who worked in the Bay Area as the Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Information Services for John F. Kennedy University. He was also an adjunct instructor of Computer Science and the technology manager of the Computer Science department at Laney College.
Thaddeus' career in information technology spanned two decades and included network design, desktop publishing, educational curriculum design and industry-related coaching.
In his identity as The Answer-Man he answers questions about science fiction, media culture, movies, anime, comics and superheroes all over the Internet. He has appeared on a variety of podcasts and convention panels as a comic historian and inspirational writing coach promoting Afrofuturism and speculative fiction writing.
Hayward's Reach (Collection, 2011)
Broken Glass (Novella, 2013)
The Future is Short III (2016)
Visions: Moons of Saturn (2015)
The Future is Short II (2015)
Au Courant Press Journal (2014)
Awesome AllShorts (2014)
Visions of Leaving Earth (2014)
Scifi Ideas (2014)
The Future is Short (2014)
Genesis Science Fiction, (2013)
Quora's Top Writer Award 2016
Quora's Top Writer Award 2017
Writer (2014 - Present) - 370 Short stories, essays, reviews, political and social commentaries
Published in: Polygon.com, Basic Income, Coffeelicious, Arc Digital, Be Epic, Blacks in Technology, Hacker Noon, Panel & Frame, The Creative Cafe, Startup Grind, The Creator's Path, The Mission, The Writing Cooperative, The Mission, Happiness Weekly
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