The first big news regarding Stikmantica is that its mission has transformed. Everything else remains the same. It continues to serve as the mechanism for productizing and distributing fruit of the Stikmantic mind. What is different is that there will be no more stress over non-existent sales. The plan is to keep putting the work into the world as I have done. That is the plan, the ambition, the aim and challenge, and it’s enough. The few dozen loyalists of Habdvarsha stand as the audience for whom I create. The rest of the planet can join us when they will.
One immediate benefit is far less stress in the creative process. There will be no more worrying about how work is received. Marketing and promotion are two mysteries I’ve never penetrated. My efforts in these areas since launching Stikmantica have been, without exception, failures. I do not know how to fix it, so I choose to stop worrying about it. Focusing on what I know to do can readily fill all available time, and doing that is time well spent.
There also isn’t going to be hurry to finish anything. Rule by an idée fixe doesn’t necessarily mean having to make a job of it. I expect to work steadily, because that is how I work, but the projects will complete on their own schedules, without announced deadlines. More breaks, more reverie, more art without calendars unless it’s calendar art. These are new watchwords.
Not making a job of it has drawbacks. One is surrendering hope that Stikmantica will ever pay for itself. Funding shortfalls have always been made up from the grocery budget. Since I am as committed as ever to chasing this lifework, I am, in effect, committing to splitting the grocery budget with art. If I stay in Austin, that means a straitened life going forward, starting now. Staying anywhere in the United States means variation on the same.
In late January/early February I visited Montevideo, capital of Uruguay. The pretext was two weeks of intensive Spanish in a school, Academia Uruguay, in the Ciudad Vieja barrio of the city. A secret brief was to assess Montevideo as a possible target for relocation. I’m researching places where I could survive with no more than current resources while avoiding limits that come stuck in Austin. If you follow my presence on social media, you may have seen posts from the trip.
What do you do when someone points out that you are standing in what you have been seeking? That’s basically how my friend Mary Saunders reacted to my southerly posts. It took a while for the mirror she held to come into focus. The posts I wrote were about mundane interactions in the city that suggested an intrinsic humaneness that I had imagined but not known. Every day was a gift from the culture and the people whose paths I crossed. Mary’s responses went to what Stikmanz contributed to the encounters, which she assumed gave good equal to good received. Instead of a narrative of a magical city filled with friendly people incredibly nice to strangers, she assumed a narrative filled with people friendly to a nice stranger. If she is right, it adds to the charm. If magic happened because the way I am fits well with the Guayo way, that’s pluses all around.
I barely qualify as a speaker of the language, and yet I felt like I had context. It’s not a flash destination or glamor spot. It is prosperous and egalitarian. Famously the most expensive place to live in Latin America, Montevideo is cheaper than Austin. For two weeks, while rooted in an educational program, I liked it very much. Now I need to go back for a longer stay, without (or only intermittently) a program, to explore a routine and see a season change. Prudence would visit for two or three months, to thoroughly suss possibilities and then—if systems are go—begin the shift. But, how do I get there? Resources are blown, and another thing I have never understood is where money comes from when it doesn’t come from working extra, more and harder while pinching pennies.
Gears are grinding. Should I figure out a way to go, what happens with this condo while I’m away? What about my stuff? How would Stikmantica operate? Could I keep a base here? Is this condo worth anything? Is there any chance any of these labors might catch fire?
If I were suddenly wealthy, I would donate the condo to the Revolutionary Communist Party, entirely because I am a wicked person who would gloat each day, as I lingered after breakfast with an Americano, mineral water and a piece of marzipan, at thought of the homeowners association dealing with Stalinist punk rockers in perpetuity.
Meanwhile, back in the Be Here Now there is still at least lip service owed to publicity for my output. The very near future should see the novel, Prelude to a Change of Mind, the Author’s Edition, and the novelette/short story combo, Rose Moon & Death on the Toilet, available as ebooks in the usual markets. I’m also contemplating the final hurdle for a Patreon account, which is to say I’m wracking my brains trying to figure out patronage tiers and what kinds of reliably producible benefits might gladden patron hearts. This is a topic on which suggestions are welcome. As always, the very best suggestions come from anyone who has just bought a book.