Essays On Patreon (2017-2018)

©2019 Trudy | Drift Sojourn

©2019 Trudy | Drift Sojourn

Though Patreon has been around since 2013 and I been a patron of other creators since 2015, I launched my Patreon profile in the late summer of 2017. Though I have been an artist for a long time, before social media itself was as dominant in society as it is now and very mainstream, I have used enough social media platforms in two decades online to know what is tolerable and what is not even close to it. While Patreon is far from a perfect platform—whether how they handle adult content creators to how they process payments; that all needs serious work—in the short-term, it has been useful for a lot creators in general that I know. We do what we can with what we have. (Also publishing there is why I paused publishing here on my central site in 2018.)

On Patreon I offer: Long essays on social media behavior/culture, labor, art, film, television or music etc. Surprise rewards which includes additional long pieces, book reviews and other unique content. Short essays on lifestyle topics, social media behavior/culture, labor, art, film, television or music etc. Bonus content published sporadically, which includes art-related tutorials, tips, digital wallpapers, recipes and more. "The Weekly Five" with 5 tips per post on art as inspiration, creativity, business, labor and self-care, beginner photography education, or life/leisure tips. "Read This Week" as a curated reading list that includes good articles on photography, food, writing, film/television, art, politics/sociopolitics, and general life. Some of my own writing is included in each post as well. Public posts that include or are based on my thoughts and work that is already publicly accessible via my tweets, Gradient Lair, Drift Sojourn, Cinemacked, my writing on this blog etc.

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Though most of my content involves a lot of writing, including the public posts, bonus posts, “Read This Week” and “The Weekly Five,” below I include the short essays, long essays, and surprise rewards that are essays or book reviews that I published in 2017-2018 on Patreon. There are brief excerpts of each. Patrons at the top 4 highest reward levels can access short essays; patrons at the top 3 highest reward levels can access all of my Patreon content including long essays and book reviews.

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2018

How Somi Uses Her Jazz Album Petite Afrique To Critique Gentrification - “Somi managed to take political and personal themes, some of which are quite heavy, and weave them into artistry without sacrificing actual vocals and musicianship. Gentrification. Immigration. Diasporic tensions. Conflict. Healing. Love. The songs are not preachy and boring, which could have easily been the case considering the topics. Sometimes people make what should be an essay into a song. This did not happen here. Petite Afrique is pure passion and depth that pulsates as clearly and as competently as the musicianship itself.”

Rapsody and Big K.R.I.T. Created My Favorite Hip Hop Albums Of 2017 - “These albums almost feel like companion albums to me—not so far-fetched, since they have worked together in the past—because both contain extremely skilled lyricism from Southern artists who reveal some of their personal experiences with self, with family, with art and with life and truly expose some of their vulnerabilities, all with incredible tracks that reflect stellar musicianship and production to form cohesive undeniably dope bodies of work.”

The People Who Partly Influence What Music I Love - “I bought a copy of Agent Provocateur last year from a local brick and mortar record store that has become one of my favorite places to spend time. The lighting is dim in there like a cozy bar with stacks and stacks of vinyl all perfectly organized by artist, album title and genre. Its smell reminds me of old bookstores; paper, glue, warmth and time. The owner of the record store is an older White man who I call ‘old White rocker dude’ because this is what his aesthetic evokes for me. His vintage rock band t-shirts, usually black and ones that he wears with straight-legged faded jeans, are ones that he must have actually worn to concerts decades ago, not bought at discount stores in the present day to try evoke a vintage aesthetic. He is a vintage aesthetic.”

Entertainment: Representation vs. Escape - “If people have to ‘find’ themselves in art, do they accept that some people want the space to simply enjoy art? Can people consume art for sheer pleasure, for inspiration for their own artistic work if they are artists, for its technical merits? Or does representation alone have to be ‘enough?’ Is representation then a social ‘contract’ that implies that the group usually ignored now ‘owes’ consumption as ‘gratitude?’ Is consumer choice now gone because marginalized folks should not dare be ‘ungrateful’ that powerful media figures occasionally notice them and rarely out of any compassion or sense of justice, but for sheer profit in a capitalist society where media is quite powerful and expanding markets is profitable?”

Sibling Stories On Screen - “Pushing back on parental authority, even as adults. Craving protection, even as adults. Coming to terms with their parents’ and other elder figures’ vulnerability, fallibility and mortality. Jealousy. Pride. Love. These are things that siblings experience together in real life and not just on screen.”

Art Is Art. Art Is The Artist. And Art Is Both. - “Ending personal entertainment media consumption of various artists is a personal choice that definitely can matter, but one that often means literally nothing outside of e.g. a woke performance for the Twitter timeline if it does not accompany a change in how people treat victims, whether they consume art or not. When can activism be about more than entertainment media consumption choices? When can it be about actual support for victims?”

A Love/Hate Relationship With “Inspiration” - “Another thing that makes me question the usefulness of inspiration at times is when the love for ideas exceeds the love for creation and production. And if in fact ‘inspiration involves both being inspired by something and acting on that inspiration’ then what does it mean when people are enamored with the notion of inspiration but not the labor of inspiration? While I do not think every idea has to be produced and have spent so much of my sociopolitical writing life critiquing the demands around production in the social media age, I have noticed the difference in responses that I get between mentioning ideas and completing the work that makes them real.”

The Cost Of Dreams - “I never had the desire for fame. So many kids that I knew at the art camp wanted to be famous one day. I never desired that. Never had the desire for overexposure. Never had the desire for even wealth, no matter how many lottery jokes I make online. Honestly, it is not the wealth of the lottery but the desire to have options to...escape...that makes winning so appealing to me. Options to be seen less, options to have to engage less, options to retreat from most of the world. My parents always knew that about me. My desire to retreat. Options not opulence. Always desired. This is what made art attractive to me in the first place. Creating options if I could not actually live them.”

Labor: Dreams vs. Reality - “I like straight-forward conversation about independent work, whether on freelancing, entrepreneurship, creative work and/or owning a business. Just facts and methods. Sometimes I need that. Sometimes I actually do not want to ‘dream.’ I find that I can rarely have these type of conversations in many spaces online though. Ones grounded in the reality of work and not the dream. I constantly deal with people who want to have conversations about dreams of business while purposely ignoring material realities of doing business.” 

It Is Still Work Even When You “Love” What You Do - “‘Passion’ can become a trap for workers themselves because it is an easy way to excuse all of the harm involved in work if the general field of the work is perceived as enjoyable. This is why it has been so important to me to be honest about my full experience as a non-famous, indie, full-time working artist instead of taking the more popular route of glamorizing my career when so much of it is not even remotely glamorous and instead is quite arduous.”

The Shaming Of “Visible” Indie Work In Social Media Spaces - “Being an independent creator means that I have to advertise, market and sell my own work. The sheer visibility of this process in the age of social media means being at risk for everything from passive aggression to scrutiny to harassment to plagiarism to erasure to libel. In essence, people who work at traditional jobs get to ‘hide’ this aspect of their labor since they most likely do not do it themselves. This obscure facet of their labor sometimes gets used as ‘proof’ of how ‘woke’ they are since some people perceive capitalism as a personality trait online more than as a system. Being visibly involved in anything that generates money—especially when it is not attached to an approved social institution—regularly gets labeled as a ‘scam’ or ‘capitalistic’ even when such labeling is hypocritical since there is no labor outside of this system.”

How Far Are You Willing To Go To “Succeed?” - “For years now I have asked people in activist digital spaces (though I do not identify as an ‘activist’) how far are they willing to go to have this ‘success?’ I specifically ask such people as most make pretty public declarations of their ‘good’ politics, ‘unshakable’ ethics and ‘radical’ praxes. How far are they willing to go to critique how capitalism shapes their own perceptions of success in all three areas? Are they okay with plagiarizing and exploiting indie creator/writer/activist labor in order to move ahead in their traditional academic/media jobs? Are they okay with pursuing relationships solely for the purpose of appearances? Are they okay with using any means necessary to achieve social status, to be invited to the most important panels, dinners, luncheons, award ceremonies, published in the most important publications, have photo ops with celebrities...if this requires squashing people like me along the way?” 

Destigmatizing “Quitting” - “Part of destigmatizing quitting means letting people you care about quit when they need to. If someone does not want to watch a show anymore, is no longer interested in a hobby, wants a better job and wants to leave their current one, no longer wants to be in a relationship (and by ‘relationship’ I do not mean a synonym for romance; I mean a variety of human connection types)—all of which reflects different severities and needs and of course cannot be approached in the same way as equal things; they simply represent a change at some level a person wants to make—is your first response trying to convince them not to? Why?”

Healthy Interpersonal Relationships Require More Than Shared Ideology - “Interpersonal relationships require more than shared identity, shared consumption and shared ideologies. They are work that can be worth it when people treat such relationships—even if they are only online—with the value that they deserve. When they examine what they think friendship is. Romance is. Family is. Love is. While all relationships involve relating to each other over identity/culture, things of interests, and politics, the idea that these things should matter more than how we actually treat each other has been exacerbated in the social media age.”

Rethinking The “Experiences vs. Things” Binary - “Experiences are not object-free, product-free, things-free moments. Things are not always disconnected from experiences. Experiences can also mean pain. It is not all pleasure solely because it may not involve things. Life is difficult and finding joy in things does not necessarily mean superficiality or centering consumption above all. Instead of trying to convince myself that some forms of consumption are automatically ‘superior’ to others, I instead think about the when and the why of when I consume or deprive myself.”

Safety: The Lost Conversations - “To answer the questions that I posed about how to address men in my life about safety, the answer is I address them directly. I have never been one to beat around the bush. The responses that I get—even from men who would profess to care about me and/or want to do ethical business with me—still amount to disconnection and disregard.”

Nostalgia and Social Media Norms - “I do not want to be seen more; I want to be seen less. I want fewer relationships, not more. I want quality over quantity. I want to be able to do my work—since I have no choice but to work to survive—but without having to fight daily misrepresentation, exploitation and erasure. I literally look for what people are least interested in and find interest there, not to be a hipster, but simply to be harassed less. I want less...not more. And even as I move towards ‘less,’ I have to deal with the burden of anything I created in the past that is still deemed ‘profitable’ or ‘popular’ being fodder for misuse.”

Grief and Social Media - “Additionally, when powerless Black women are victims of violence, the idea that Black women must immediately mount up to be visible on social media with reactions after mandatorily consuming visuals of said violence on Black women is harmful. It is misogynoir. Nobody stops to consider how Black women—who are survivors of racist microaggressions in social spaces, street harassment, sexual harassment at work, sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, State violence, scientific racism in healthcare and more—constantly seeing violence on Black women's bodies may impact us.”

The Idea That Poor/Non-Degreed People Cannot Understand “Complexity” Is A Problem - “…why is it that some academics, journalists and people trying to make a name for themselves online continue to suggest that my writing and other indie/unaffiliated (with mainstream media) writers are ‘too complex’ and that we are ‘elitist’ for referencing terms and concepts most often coined and developed by people of colour, some of whom are not in the academe at all? How are they so sure that ‘the poor’ they seem to want to speak for not with cannot understand this work? How are they so sure that indie/unaffiliated writers are not also ‘the poor?’”

Book Review #01 - The Cancer Journals (Audre Lorde) - “I honestly felt a bit angry reading her describe her tears and her fears as I see so many quotes specifically from this book used without any public acknowledgement or regard for the fact she was battling cancer as she produced these now beloved words. The context matters. Her specific pain matters, even if people apply her writings in ways beyond her singular existence. Many people regularly consume Black women's feminist writings as abstract nuggets to build digital ‘woke’ platforms from and careers from, totally divorced from the history, the context and the experiences that it takes to produce such content. People do it with Black women's feminist writings from the past. People do it with Black women's feminist writings in the present.”

Book Review #02 - Surpassing Certainty (Janet Mock) - “In Surpassing Certainty, Janet Mock speaks her truth and manages to do three things: share lived experiences; connect these lived experiences to the social and structural issues beyond her own individual life; present a compelling almost film-ready story filled with diverse moods, textures, colours, and sounds described so vividly that you can imagine them while reading. I could picture everything because she even writes about inanimate objects as if they are alive.”

The Visible and The Hidden Value of The Public Library - “People often name the very important tangible benefits of public libraries when making rebuttals to those too classist to consider their socioeconomic and cultural relevance. I name those as well. But I also remember the sheer medicine that such a space has been to me in my life when there was no health insurance for a therapist, no access to a social club, no money and/or time for traditional self-care regimens.”

“Truth Tellers” and The Status Quo - “The woman who defends misogynistic men and simply regurgitates anything patriarchy renders ‘true’ is called a ‘truth teller.’ The person of colour who defends racists—from cultural appropriators making millions on turning culture into caricatures, to political leaders who may smile yet enact decisions and policies with disastrous effects on masses of people of colour—is called a ‘truth teller.’ Sometimes this is simply socialization plus a proverbially large microphone/platform. Sometimes this is simply a grift.”

“Gotchactivism” and The Performance Of Dissent - “Art can be a tool to help understand the world...relationships, cultures, societies and dreams. But the sheer consumption of art is not changing the world; people can consume or deprive themselves of art, performatively and publicly so, and still do nothing to create ideological/material changes for themselves and others. Being honest about this dichotomy while engaging art critically or choosing not to engage, without interfering with other people's choices would be a start and a move away from gotchactivism. Making critical consumption choices and being able to critique less than perfect art without defending the actions of less than perfect artists is not impossible.”

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2017

Memories and Magic: Thoughts About The VH1 Hip Hop Honors and 90s Music Love - “I know younger people get so tired of people my age with our ‘well back in the 90s, Black music, television, fashion etc...’ type of statements, but honestly, it is no different from what they are living in real time now. That feeling of protectiveness of the music that satiates their emotions and nourishes their creativity means as much to them as the music of my youth means to me. This is the magic; the relationship itself between growing up and music.”

On Eminem and His Fans: When His Skill and Their Consumption Is Not Enough - “I own tons of radical hip hop and tons of hip hop that I could critique all day or I could bump my head to the tracks and appreciate the scenes and the stories that the words woven beautifully together paint for me, even when those words are problematic. But with Eminem, there is no sense of comfort, familiarity or anything for me when I listen to him. It is like listening to a high-powered well-functioning expensive car engine, but in a car being driven to a destination that I have no desire to go to and one I might not be wanted at anyway.”

Listening To Motion Pictures - “Dialogue is clearly important in film; music can function in the way that dialogue does though. It can create confusion or clarity, incite fear or fantasy; it can leave the audience in one state yet lead the audience to another.” 

A True Love For Live Albums - “Live albums are such an important part of this music experience for me; they offer a way to experience music how it is best shared, as a performance, but in a way accessible to masses. They capture a public experience and make it as personal as for the audience of one.”

The Social Burden For Politically Aware Artists - “Imagine working at a traditional job and strangers from outside entered the building and demanded that you comment on what they saw on the news. This is in essence what it is like to use social media for work and have people ignore that aspect of your use while demanding reactionary content to consume on a never-ending clock.”

Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and James Baldwin On Being An Artist - “To Toni Morrison, Black artists’ own experiences are valid as art. The dichotomy where art must be devoid of the personal or only be a source of endless pleasure without any sense of how one fits within the world in a sociopolitical context does not exist when she discusses art. In other words, this ‘woke’ versus ‘not woke’ binary simply does not apply. Instead, I receive her messages on the role of the artist as one where the political does not erase the creative and the creative does not make the political superficial.” 

What Poetry Teaches Me About Art and Life - “Poetry calms me. When I feel calm, sometimes I am better at working within the artistic mediums that I do. Poetry inspires me. Sometimes I read a poem and I want to go write, go photograph, go do something creative, in general. Poetry heals me. Like any other artist, any other person really, sometimes poetry is medicine for a wounded spirit and a broken heart.”

Art. The Space To Explore. The Space To Expand. - “The idea that you have to get good at one thing alone is rooted in the climb for social status in a classist hierarchical society where people should fight for titles instead of feed their passions and their bellies too, if they are working artists. Well, some people are less interested in social status than they are in simply being good at the things that they love while enjoying the process of creation, learning and growth.”

Flattery Is Overrated and Influence Is Expensive - “What is ‘influence’ worth when people will not even connect your name to your own work? What do I gain from being ‘influential?’ Why would I be ‘flattered’ by this? So many people insist that being consumed and copied while erased as the source and while unpaid is something to be ‘flattered’ by. Any consumption and exploitation is better than being ignored altogether, right? Well...no; not for me. I will never care about attention more than ethics and material resources. I was not raised with the structural privilege or the social and financial resources to do so.”

The Problem With Perfectionism - “Perfectionism is ultimately suffocation. But plenty of times, I did not want to breathe. I simply wanted to churn away working at something until I chipped away at the imperfections that did not even make the work bad but made it in fact more interesting. Yet I chipped away anyway. Perfectionism allowed me to get lost in the process, but not always enjoy nor learn from the process.”

Safety: Craving The Unreal - “I did not feel safe in college being several hundred miles away from home and around men who adamantly believe that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ no matter what lies of love lingered from their lips and limbs that only knew how to betray and bruise.”

Loneliness Is Not The Same As Introversion, But Introverts Can Experience Loneliness - “I am able to differentiate between being my usual introverted self and when I am actually experiencing loneliness by paying attention to when and why I seek solitude and distance. Am I being myself, am I actually withdrawing to protect myself from pain, or am I responding to pain?”

Loss - “Loss happens long before death though. Loss is when you realize that people buried you long ago and now only interact with who they decided you should be, not with who you are. Loss is when you exist to people who swear that they love you—and maybe they do in their own way, a way that simply fails you, over and over—but they have no idea who you actually are and have no idea why that should actually matter.”

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If these excerpts interest you and you want to read these pieces in full (and also keep up with some of my newest writing) only accessible to patrons, become a patron (at the Blueberry or Blackberry reward level or higher).

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