How do the figures add up? I have made a little over $200 cash, which should come out to about $300 once I upload what I've written on Patreon. 1/3 of the way to my goal, not to shabby. And I'm heading to another event in a couple hours.
My best night this week was First Fridays on Abbot Kinney. Young, slightly intoxicated people with disposable incomes who are there for art are a great market. There are a few ArtWalk type events coming up that I am optimistic about. From Abbot Kinney I also got invitations to a two private corporate parties, tech and real estate, that I am hoping will be big.
I feel good about the work, though it became evident pretty quickly that I really need to be at events rather than just hanging out on the street writing, so that people are in a mindset for engagement. Once one person stops for a poem a line quickly forms, but that first one always takes a brave soul.
Of people who stop, those who ask about the 'Pay me what you think it's worth' part of the sign often don't get a poem. That trips people up way more than having to come up with a subject, which most really enjoy. Asking people to evaluate (value-ate) what I'm doing on the spot is definitely a sort of violence, making the reduction of a service to a price tag really explicit. But I wouldn't change that, and I feel like the people who write "$5 poems" are really limiting themselves by not allowing people to pay more if they want to. A lot want to.
A few related thoughts that I have come across recently:
Yesterday, there was a great NPR piece yesterday about how people selling products, from the little girl selling lollipops to tech entrepreneurs wooing venture capitalists, are selling themselves. I can't find the link, if anyone can send it to me and I'll upload it. This is something I am really aware of with my poetry practice - the fact that I'm a young, blond-haired, blue-eyed white guy greatly increases people's chances of stopping and of supporting me. If I looked like a typical busker or street vendor, it would be much tougher. I had an interesting interaction with an old street guitar player on Abbot Kinney who set up shop right next to me and wanted to talk. He was cordial, but you could tell he was bitter that people were engaging with me and giving me money and not him. He said, 'you've got a new thing going on there'.
Finally, a quick LA Times article on the growth of street vending - nothing new, but still true and good to look at.
Until next week! I'm off to write at the Schkapf party!