It’s got to be time to give up. May I please give up, now?
I’ve been lying awake in bed for the last two and a half hours. I’ve been tossing and turning, and it hasn’t been because I was sick. At least when I was really sick I felt tired. No, no, now I’m awake. And then a little while ago I got a clue as to why I might have gotten sick in the first place, why I couldn’t sleep tonight, why that clue existed. The clue was acid eating my stomach from the inside out. Those chalky antacid tablets couldn’t touch it, so now I’m fucking drinking pepto bismol. Fuck. That isn’t right.
I didn’t come here to be under so much stress that I have to fucking drink pepto bismol! I don’t run this website to generate stress. I’m not writing this novel because I want an ulcer or a weakened immune system. I don’t create comics because I want to feel bad all the time, worried all the time, fucking stressed out. This isn’t right.
I think it must be time to give up. Well, give up the parts that are causing such problems lately. Give up on trying to get anything out of Easyspace anymore, just live with the fact that their service sucks and switch to someone else as soon as the site can afford it. Give up on trying to get the site to make money through micropayments, at least in the meantime; Easyspace and Bitpass won’t play nice, and Bitpass doesn’t seem very friendly to doing more than providing a very basic service. In fact, giving up on trying to twist the severely limited Bitpass service to fit a reasonable end-user experience for a robust set of content from multiple authors and in multiple categories will save me quite a load of stress all by itself.
See, I know what Modern Evil does now : There are a lot of different contributors who create a lot of different things. Journal entries, poetry, comics, art, doodles, reviews, stories, and whatever else people want to contribute. Some of them (like comics, journals, and maybe poetry) are interesting to readers not just as individual posts/items, but as part of a long string or items. Others stand alone (short stories, art). Some readers come to Modern Evil once, read one thing, and never return. Some readers come to Modern Evil, read one type of thing, and keep coming back once in a while to see that thing get updated. Some readers come to Modern Evil and come back every day and read everything.
So, when the idea of Micropayments entered my head, long ago, then re-entered it recently, I didn’t think I should have to build my content around micropayments, I thought I should be able to integrate micropayments into what I already offered. Well, I knew I couldn’t reasonably start charging for something that had been free for years in the past, but what I meant was that the structure of the place should be able to stay the same. Lots of contributors providing several different types of content. A payment structure that suited the different types of readers the site naturally gets, and which reasonably distributes those payments between Modern Evil and outside contributors for their work. Something where you could pay for a ‘subscription’ of sorts that would be well suited to the people who come back every day – it would have given access to the most recent of every preMEum thing. Something else where if you wanted to read through the archives of a particular thing you could pay for it in small chunks or all at once, and read it at your liesure without worrying about what was ‘current’ if you didn’t want to. I also wanted to make available subscription ‘upgrades’ that would allow someone with a weekly or monthly subscription to ‘upgrade’ to monthly or yearly for the difference in cost, once they’d determined they liked it. A third idea was a way for people who were paying for subscriptions to ‘upgrade’ their subscriptions to include access to the archives at a reduced rate, for people who come once in a while and want to see what’s new as well as what they’ve missed.
Sounds good, maybe even reasonable, and I even came up with a way to put it together so it was simple and easy to use and understand to the end users.
Except BitPass isn’t interested in any of that. What they want is for creators to be selling access to discrete chunks of content. So, if you have a finished comic like Makeshift Miracle, you can charge a discrete charge to allow ‘Spenders’ access to the entire thing. Or if you have a one-shot comic like O or the couple of comics over at Diesel Sweeties, you can sell access to those. One piece of content, one BitPass process, one payment from one ‘Spender’ to one ‘Earner’.
Which would mean that for Modern Evil preMEum’s suggested structure I would have to build a seperate, dynamicly updating page for daily subscribers, weekly subscribers, monthly subscribers, and yearly subscribers, all with the same exact content (but different internal links, I’ll get to that) just so that I could register them with different prices and expirations. Which would make those ‘upgrade’ links for time periods (ie: monthly to yearly) relatively easy, I could put the appropriate upgrade links in each of these different pages. Except that then because I wanted them to be at reduced prices, they have to be registered as different content, and I have to make yet another custom page (with the same actual content, mind you) for each possible upgrade (daily to weekly, daily to monthly, daily to yearly, weekly to monthly, weekly to yearly, and monthly to yearly). Remember the idea for ‘upgrades’ that allowed subscribers reduced-price access to archives? There’s no way to prevent people who have paid for reduced-price archives from clicking through to the full-priced ones (before they get into their subscription pages), and no way to know that someone paid for a full-price archive once they pay for a subscription, unless we build some pretty clever interface and 10 sets of subscription pages for each archive section. And again there would have to be two versions of every archive section anyway (every month or storyline of a comic, and every short story individually, etc…) because we wanted to offer them at two prices (one for subscribers and one for non-subscribers).
[:takes deep breaths:]
Okay, okay, enough about the troubles with BitPass’s choice for business options (one) and flexibility (none), and on to the fact that their service is simply incompatible with Easyspace’s servers? Yeah. I guess the fault is somewhat on the shoulders of Easyspace. The version of Linux they run operates an incomplete version of PHP (that is, one (ONE!) php command is missing from its vocabulary), and is neither Apache nor IIS. BitPass had four options for their ‘gateway’ which takes people securely from their payment to your content. One requires Apache_mod_perl, which is not even available on all Apache servers, one only works on IIS servers (ie: NT boxes) and is virtually impossible to install from what I’ve heard, one is almost universally available – it’s PHP, and it apparently requires for operation that ONE! command that Easyspace’s implementation of PHP cannot execute. Oh, the fourth? A CGI which BitPass themselves describes as not being very likely to work and totally incapable of handling dynamic pages. (FYI, 100% of Modern Evil is generated dynamically right now, in one way or another. I’m not even sure what it would be capable of without dynamic pages.) This is why I have been looking for a new hosting provider lately. I’ve also, as I posted, contacted Easyspace regarding the possibility of getting a working version of PHP on my server. Hah!
Okay, so. Fuck preMEum. Fuck BitPass. Fuck Easyspace. Fuck it all. Fuck micropayments, fuck PHP, fuck Zeus. And Fuck Mouse.
Another source of stress for me lately has been the ‘Mouse’ Project. When I put it online 80 days ago or so, I had hoped to have all the panels back within 30-45 days, so I could take Mouse with me to the comic-con. Except I couldn’t find enough artists. And the artists I did find couldn’t meet their deadlines. And some of them I just couldn’t get a response from at all after they accepted the panels (one I still can’t get ahold of, who signed up the first week!). And some of them (okay, just the one, you shallow, self-centered fucking asshole) drew their panels and then decided not to give them to me after all, because I wouldn’t call them my ‘friend’. Prick. And there were some panels that just NO ONE wants to draw, apparently. and STILL some unassigned. And I tried putting together a plan where I could charge for the comic via BitPass (clearly this is out the window, what with BitPass biting the big one) and reimburse people based on how many panels they did, and every new artist I got with that line said they didn’t want the money anyway, so … what was it? I still have 5 sections of panels totally unassigned (only 11 panels total) and a ridiculous number of assigned panels not back yet, and … I was hoping to get it online September first, and maybe I still will, but I’m ready to give up on that too. I guess there’s a possibility that I can write it in static pages and MAYBE get the CGI version of the BitPass script working on it. It is the sort of thing BitPass had in mind, that one-off piece of content. You know if I can ever get it together. All these reminder emails I keep sending out, all these emails I keep sending out to artists to try to find SOMEONE to say they’ll do the remaining panels, all the work I’ve done to make it clearer what’s going on, it’s all driving me up the wall. These are the sorts of things that made me decide years ago that I don’t want ever to be management again.
And here I am creating projects to manage. The ‘Mouse’ Project, preMEum, what next? Heck, I’ve been treating Modern Evil in general as a management project, and even that’s getting stressful. You wouldn’t believe how upset I’ve been feeling because Zoe has a LiveJournal and is posting there instead of in his blog here. I mean, what the fuck!?!?!?!???? It’s like being stabbed in the back. Or like … well, it’s like a lot of things I’ve experienced before. It’s like all those times that someone had decided for one reason or another that they didn’t like me anymore, or didn’t like something about me, or for some reason didn’t want anything to do with me anymore, but they didn’t have the fucking balls to say it. And I had to figure it out by some other sideways thing they did to stop running into me, stop thinking about me, to get me the fuck out of their lives. And Zoe’s not the only one. We’ve had discussions here before about the fact that the two posting-est people on Modern Evil don’t even fucking post on Modern Evil, that (surprise, surprize) there are over thirty people with access to post and it’s mostly just me, Iain, Mo, and now (thank you, Alison) Coup who post, with the occassional poem from someone. Readership is dropping, has been since February, actually, and I’ve only been adding authors since then. And for some reason I fucking care. I do. And it drives me crazy.
And I’m trying to figure it out, but why do I have a website at all? What is the point? What do I get out of this? Is there a goal? Something I’m trying to acheive? How will I know when I get there? Why do I put myself through all these long hours sitting in front of a computer screen trying to make Modern Evil a bigger, better, brighter place? Why am I trying so hard to get new comics artists, new writers, new anything? God damn it.
I’ve got to be able to give up soon, people. I know I’ve told people I’d host their comics. I know I told people I’d put their comics on Modern Evil and they could make money. Fuck me. I was wrong. I can’t do it. It’s too much. It’s too much. It’s driving me to have to drink fucking pepto bismol in the middle of the night. It’s making me feel bad, litterally making me sick, and I can’t take it anymore. I’m just going to have to send out some emails apologizing. Make some excuse. Offer free hosting anyway, if they want it, but fuck profit. Fuck BitPass, fuck preMEum, go sign up with fucking WebComixNation if you want to make money hosting your comic in an up and coming comics community. Your content is welcome, but don’t expect me to jump up and code some magic to take it all in. I’ll get to you in my own good time. Fuck. This is supposed to be a hobby.
I never wanted to be a professional web developer.
I’ve been typing an hour and a half and I’m starting to feel better, feel tired even. Maybe a little more. What am I giving up? Giving up on preMEum, sure. Giving up on trying to make a deadline, or try to make money on ‘Mouse’, probably. Giving up on ever making Modern Evil into more than a fancy vanity site for my friends and family. Giving up.
I’ve been working on my novel. Well, not for the last few days, but in the last few weeks and months. I wrote a rough draft last year. I’ve been working on a re-write. I expect one more re-write after this, mostly for continuity, spelling/grammar/structure, and perhaps a little character … modification for believability. I’d wanted to get the new draft finished by last Friday, actually. All these other things kept getting in my way. Things I’ve been ranting about, and things I haven’t touched on yet. But I got behind. On Thursday, when I got home from Phoenix, I had about three more days’ work left on it, if the work went fast and I stayed focused. Except that the 75 or so pages I wrote in Tempe last Monday through Wednesday is all on my laptop, and I managed to lose my laptop’s AC adapter in the trunk of my dad’s car. It should hopefully return to me tomorrow (Tuesday). So I’m further behind. I had hoped to take the new draft and to send it out to several people, perhaps in POD form from CafePress with a special ‘editing/review copy’ cover on it, to have people read it, make notes and suggestions, and send it back to me so I could work on the final draft. If I’d had the book done writing on the 15th, I could have had it sent out on the 18th (the next business day) at the latest (faster, if sent electronically), and maybe have feedback by the end of this week. I’m fairly confident in how the book is shaping up, and believed that I could make appropriate revisions in the remaining week before September 1st, when I hoped to upload the finished version to CP, and thus it would instantly be available in print. I’d also hoped to offer it in PDF form for about half the cost of the print edition, not that that effected my writing schedule.
I can safely say the September 1st launch date is a wash. Fuck it. Fuck September 1st. Fuck launching preMEum on September 1st (because fuck preMEum altogether). Fuck launching my book on September 1st, too. And fuck launching Mouse September 1st. I’ll launch that as soon as I have every single panel done.
But maybe, if I get my AC adapter and find some friendly readers to give me feedback (I have one in mind, someone that has helped me more than she knows these resent weeks) I can make a September 21st launch for the book. September 21st I turn 25. ‘Published at 24’ is almost the same as ‘Published at 25’, and I’m really just self-publishing, anyway. Sigh.
Did I mention the three-times-a-week comic I was working on for preMEum? I thought it was a good idea. I thought it was interesting and experimental and was having a fairly good time drawing it. I’ve already got a month’s worth drawn, actually. Except then I tried explaining it to people, or showing it to them, and I began to realize that … it isn’t something people would want to read. It isn’t something people would bookmark and keep coming back to to see it update. It isn’t something people would remember. In fact, it isn’t something people would even understand unless they read it for fully 6 months. So fuck that, too. I’m giving up on it, right now.
And fuck having a New Comic done any time soon. Edison needs his rest.
And so do I. I’m going to bed. I’ll deal with the aftermath of all this ranting some other time. Or maybe I won’t. Fuck the aftermath.