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On Art, Content Creation, and Monetization: A Word Collage

Another chapter opens in the Forms of Incubation project.

Word Collages: An Experiment

Writer Problems, take #276: I have 50+ essay drafts for my Forms of Incubation project (i.e., this publication) sitting in various stages of completion in my Paragraph dashboard. And there's no end in sight for most of them.

This is nothing new for me. I'm a slow writer even at my best. But there's something else going on here too.

One factor is that I'm instinctively drawn to huge clusters of abstract philosophical ideas with so many layers of meaning and complexity that the lion's share of my creative energy gets spent on untangling, sorting, rearranging, and synthesizing.

After reflecting on how I might get more of my drafts completed and out into the world despite these time-consuming proclivities, I decided to just scrap some of the drafts instead of wrangling with them and getting hamstrung repeatedly.

But there's some decent raw material amidst the chaos.

So, as I recently mentioned on Farcaster, I'm experimenting with a new format: "word collages" of bite-sized nuggets rescued from my drafts before they landed on the scrap heap.

This may become a series, or it may not. We'll see.

The tagline for this publication is "exploring creative labor and value flow patterns through the lens of onchain minting culture." If I do make it a series, the word collages will all fit that profile, but they may be all over the map otherwise.

Cut-and-paste it shall be, then. You've been warned.

On Art, Content Creation, and Monetization

I'm a writer. Fundamentally, writing is what I'm here on this planet to do. I've known this since I was a child. If I spend most of my best hours writing content to suit market forces instead of allowing the art that's inside me to emerge the way it wants, eventually I'll hit a wall and be unable to continue.

Maybe I've hit that wall already.

"Content creation," therefore, seems to have a built-in end date. But so far, web3 isn't much better than web2 at providing viable options for a sustainable livelihood for writers who work the way I do.

Couldn't we just let AI write the content, and free up writers' time by funding them so they can make art?

Intrinsic motivation is likely the most important factor for sustaining deep creative work over the long term. There's a subtle but important distinction here regarding incentives, though. Prioritizing artistic integrity and intrinsic motivation means I can still write in conversation with others' work (art), but I can't write for them (content creation).

ldeally I'd prefer to "monetize" (I'd say earn and/or receive rewards) in ways that I haven't yet found anywhere on the web3 menu of options for writers. I'd like to see something like open-source process-writing-as-livelihood or non-quid-pro-quo patronage. But it needs a better name.

It's hard to stay optimistic. Inasmuch as "creator" "monetization" involves getting writers paid, it seems like it's mostly about positioning them so that extractive entities can continue to shift most of the structural risks and costs onto them, unchallenged. Even in web3 this is still mostly true, in part because of insufficient understanding of the problem space.

I say that "text is my superpower" in part because writing is the way I think.

One reason I write is to find ideas that only take shape on the page, and only with the cooperation of deep-writer-mind. These ideas live somewhere I can't access any other way. They don't show up in verbal conversation or social media threads.

Writing is the best way I have of contributing the kind of long-term value that (ideally) might outlive me. The less time I have for deep work, the less of this value I can contribute to the world.

My creative process has never been mine alone. It's a partnership between me and the mysterious forces that reside "in" the imaginal realm.

When things go well, the results of this partnership can be of service to whole communities. I'm a partner in the work, but never the centerpiece of it.

Every monetization method available, even in web3, requires writers to do one or more of these things:

1) interfere with readers' easy access to the work or compromise the reading experience in some way (e.g., paywalls, hijacking readers' attention with pop-up subscription nags);
2) compromise on creative integrity or intrinsic motivation (e.g., day jobs);
3) compete in zero-sum ways with others for funding through grants, prizes, etc.; and/or
4) shoulder an outsized share of labor, structural risk, and cost.

These methods do not reflect the true value of human time, attention, or mastery of art and craft. None of this is aligned with reciprocity-driven value flows and business models of the sort I'd like to see.

That's all for today. Thanks for reading this word collage.

If you found this publication through my former Substack newsletter for Black Stone Sanctuary, or have just been wondering what else I've been up to since I ditched Substack in favor of Paragraph:

  • We recently launched a new publication for the Sanctuary on Paragraph, and a related channel (slowcore-hq) on Farcaster. The Sanctuary will be re-releasing some of the writings from my former dark ambient music newsletter (Endarkenment).

  • Archives from The Anticareerist will find their way onto Paragraph eventually too, including material from the earliest days of internet fame in the 1990s.

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash.

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#creative process#creativity#art#labor#web3#philosophy#funding#motivation#attention#creative nonfiction writing#arts#word collage
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