January 2nd, 2013
Happy New Year from Miami!
Omens that the year is already off to a fantastic start:
1. I saw a couple doing it doggy style on the beach of South Beach last night.
2. A gross guy hit on me.
3. A man yelled from his car “Ride on the sidewalk you bitch!” while I was bike riding on the side of the road. (Even if it was legal to ride on the sidewalk, there was none.)
All these signs point to Hell Yes! 2013! Let’s do it!
For me, 2013 is going to be a year of major SHIFTING. Last year was supposed to be a year of major shifting away from theater and more towards a balance between that and writing/acting/ commentating/ filmmaking, but somehow I ended up on tour for six months– not a bad landing spot, sure. But this year, I’m throwing my girl balls to the walls and am really giving my life the space to make dramatic change so I can really be more balanced, healthy, and happy as a creative person.
Like any good self-help junkie, I’ve been sampling different life coaches to build a regimen of support and accountability around my goals. After looking at some long term coaching options that ran at $2500-$4500 for a few months to a year (wtf?!), I joined Michelle Ward’s “Clubhouse” at $147/year. She’s a fantastic career coach for creatives with an amazing business model herself. On her recommendation, I am doing two things: sizing up 2012 (below), and writing a letter from the year 2014 where I size up and visualize 2013 (that will be in a private google doc for nobody to see but me!).
Great stuff that Happened in 2012, by Category (Michelle says to do it by the month, but that’s too tedious right now)
Dealing with Crap: With the exception of a big freak-out at the top of the year that had me wondering if I should move to Japan and teach English, a few weirdo situations, some total teary breakdowns at a career coach’s office, and some blow-ups with friends that eventually got figured out, it was relatively drama free so far as I can remember. I still deal with things like insecurity, jealousy, anxiety– but I am also a lot more patient than I ever remember being, and better able to sit in the NOW. How did this happen? Is it the yoga? The self help tapes? Age?
End of an era: Oliver, my cat/boyfriend since 2001 (officially 2004) died in February. I wrote a play about him, so obviously the sudden loss was devastating. I do miss having him follow me around the house, but I don’t miss the pee and having to keep all fabric off the floor. His memory will live on forever in my play.
My body: I exercise so much now! Practically 5x a week! Leaving the house is so important for health! I stopped drinking for a year and my skin cleared up! My mother reports that I became a fatass this year because I am at a record high of 155 pounds. But I look fantastic, and the only thing that I feel bad about is that my mom and aunt told me I looked pregnant. Ouch! that hurt. (The only thing that got me pregs is a cheese pizza.)
Travels that weren’t for work: I got to see London in the closing ceremonies of the Paralympics! I spent a month in Edinburgh but don’t have a lot of memories there. It was just sort of a whirlwind of flyers going by me and just walking a lot and watching a lot of shows. I also was in Ireland. It was a wee bit boring but peaceful. I especially loved the Aran Islands and staying in Bed and Breakfasts in West Ireland.
Love Life: While I didn’t fall in love with anyone this year, I met far fewer douchebags than I usually do. I also have sifted more new friends from this year’s dating pool than ever before. Many who supported me by coming to my show this year! Thanks guys! And I did find myself just being much more genuine with everyone I met. This improvement comes because I have been able to be more honest with myself, set better boundaries from the get-go, love myself first, and I’m less on the defensive having finally recovered and moved on from some bad blows in the past.
Creativity: I took two levels of Improv at UCB with a bunch of 20-somethings. It was so much fun to just be in a room where I didn’t have to facilitate anything. I also made a bunch of silly videos on tour which reinvigorated my creative spirit. Sewed an obscene number of vagina puppets for my Kickstarter donors. And of course, I got to exercise some muscles reworking Going Green the Wong Way and now, CAT LADY for the stage. I also saw some great movies and shows this year! And read some great books!
Career: Yes, unfortunately, making a living off what I love seems to suck down most of my life focus. But there is a lot to celebrate.
I am incredibly proud of this Artist-in-Residence Project I did with the Bus Riders Union.
- I raised a heartstopping 18K thanks to almost 400 Kickstarter donors to get my first international tour in Scotland underway at the Edinburgh Fringe!
- I was on the road for about six months! It was tiring, but nice to be spending more time in the year doing the actual work, not waiting at home to work.
- A 4 week run of Going Green the Wong Way in LA that kicked ass!
- Raised 10K in seed money thanks to individual donors and a matching grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation to develop a new work called “The Wong Street Journal.” Super thank you to my new and returning donors! I can’t believe we pulled that off!
- Life on tour brought me to some great cities in 2012: Edinburgh; Savannah, GA; Putney, VT; Portsmouth, NH; Providence, RI; Hartford, CT; Bethlehem, PA and Miami!
- Did an amazing Artist-in-Residence theater project with the Bus Riders Union. Tri-lingual! See video above!
- Recorded some great commentaries for Marketplace, guest blogged for KCET, and wrote a few funny blogs for xoJane!
- My film version of “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” allows me to finally retire from touring that show live, and still share the message of the show with new audiences. I was present at five campuses that screened the film this year! Lots of campuses are stocking their libraries with the film and our Amazon sales aren’t half bad either!
- Started to commit to working with a part-time assistant once a week. I’ve worked with assistants on and off in the past, but I am finally COMMITTING to having someone help so I can focus on the creative work. She is a budding artist herself and it’s great to be able to feel like a mentor and realize how much I’ve grown in the last few years. And how fortunate that I can give her something to help her grow.
Money $: It was looking pretty ugly early in the year, but once the onslaught of tours hit, it felt like that scene in Indecent Proposal… just more $1 bills, than $100 bills!
My Home: Another year of equity under belt! Yes, I’m still a homeowner and an artist! And I paid off my property taxes on time (and lemme tell you, that bill ain’t cheap and gives me a good scare every time it shows up!) And after almost two years of twiddling my thumbs about how to really “own” my home, I finally threw some nails into the walls and put art up everywhere. It still has a ways to go, but now, it’s definitely MY roost and I’m proud to bring people home to it.
Some big steps I’m taking this year:
I’m going to look into a “co-working” space to get more work done.
Even if I barely am in LA, I am over working in my PJs all day. This girl needs company, to get out of the house and a focused space to write, and I need to get a lot of work done while be connected to the big city.
Use the “N” word more often. “NO.” I’m taking only tours and gigs that I feel strongly about. I’m not applying for grants for projects I’m not interested in making. I used to take shows to make me look and feel busy. Sure, it impressed people, and paid the bills. But really, all I was doing was distracting myself from really making new work and exploring new ideas and really challenging myself to be capable of even greater things.
Becoming really smarterer! By not drinking anymore! By learning everything!
I really need to learn new things and churn out new ideas, not just proliferate the old ones. So right now, my one year experiment in sobriety will extend into 2013. And I’m hyper focused on learning more about the world.
Writing a book proposal
Yes, I did at one point go to graduate school for a year to try to finish a novel (I did finish a 110 page novella that is sitting in my computer) but now I’m going to commit to finishing one kick ass book proposal for “Going Green the Wong Way.” Whatever happens after that is whatever happens. But it starts with a proposal and a sample chapter.
Being Open and Not Panicking
Fear helps nobody. My mantra is, “I’m exactly where I need to be right now, drinking in the world.”
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Category: the secret, vision, winnings
January 10th, 2011
Happy New Year indeed! I spent my New Year’s Eve at a meditation center in South Central. Focusing on bringing more peace and forgiveness to my life. Surprisingly, none of my new years resolutions have anything to do with career or money. With my new home, and a good slew of tour dates this year, I feel quite satisfied in those departments. I’m more interested in (as the pick-up artists say) “building a life” and working on my “inner game” (basically, working on my own joy and learning).
I’m happy to report that generous support continues to flow in for CAT LADY! For a relatively crappy year with some high points, I was redeemed with an overflow of much needed $$$ to finish my project. And I’m still raising more! My fears of an online individual donor campaign looking like “The Kristina Wong Panhandling Tour of 2010″ has become quite the opposite. I have received some very generous donations from the people I thought least likely to support my work financially: Passing acquaintances, pregnant ladies, fellow artists, and former Airbnb house guests. Best of all, I’m not feeling so damn alone in this endeavor!
Now, I share the wisdom with fellow artists trying to raise money from individuals for their creative projects!
Ten Tips from a successful Catsourcer Crowdsourcer!
1. Make your perks VIRAL!
Viral rewards are free to make and are a non-annoying and personal way to praise the generous and remind the universe that you are still raising money. For my $5 contributors, I thanked them with “thank you tweets” (FB status updates) and used an “@” before their name to link their Facebook page so all our mutual friends were reminded. For my $50 contributors, I made personalized thank you videos of me dressed as the Cat Lady and singing horrible songs to them. And I always posted a link to my project so people could go back, click and give. Many people told me that seeing the thank yous in public, reminded them to give. Others told me it made them feel “competitive”–that if their friends were giving generously, that they wanted to give too!
Here is one of the (semi humiliating but extremely effective videos) I made as a gift for my friend Dave who dropped $100 on me right before the New Year!
2. Make your physical perks as awesome as your art!
Somehow offering postcards written from my cat for $20 was a huge draw. And it won’t take me… ahem… my cat… that long to make those. I probably shot myself a bit in the foot offering handsewn cats for a $100 contribution because the labor on that is going to be tedious and killer. But I am learning how to churn out one handsewn cat every 40 minutes and all while catching up with my Netflix queue. So it’s doable. All very doable.
3. Keep it positive and loving… and public
Nix any mention of your house foreclosing, children starving, or a flesh eating bacteria about to take you down… keep any mentions of personal suffering as a result of not being funded tongue-in-cheek. It took years of me working around artists and non-profits to learn that while nobody wants to see good things crumble, nobody wants to save a sinking ship either. Sending love out in twitterspace or facebookland to those who give is really incredibly affirming to act of giving. Thanking them in public… shares the love.
3. Emphasize what the project means on an emotional level.
If you project is odd and esoteric but still a significant creative milestone for you, find a way to translate its importance in layman’s terms. CAT LADY is esoteric, but I broke it down simple and threw my cat into my pitch video. I also tied this show as a logical creative transition from my last show (Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) which a lot of audiences can identify with more than this one.
4. Don’t oversaturate your ask.
Reminding people everyday just makes them think that this isn’t urgent and that they can put it off. Keep the general blanket asks to once a week. Viral thank yous will actually make you need to not repost so often.
5. If there are matching funds available, use it as a call to urgency.
With the fundraising site I am using, I was able to have $2000 of the funds automatically matched. The urgency for my sponsors to see their money double got the ball rolling super fast. If you are using a fundraising site that does not match funds, challenge your big ticket donors to match funds when you hit a certain amount.
6. Time your request around dates when people are likely to give.
I had thought December would be a bad time to ask people to give as everyone is being hit up for end of year contributions, turns out it was a great time! People do like to give for end of year giving. I had thought it was a hoax. Other ideas for “ask-worthy” times are your birthday, major events or holidays, the impending birth of your first kid, or an anniversary of a creative achievement…
7. Be realistic about the infrastructure you have to support your ask. If you don’t have one, set one up.
If you don’t have a large audience base to tap, set your minimum goal lower. It’s also not a bad time to make sure your mailing list is up to date.
8. You get what you give.
Call it some crap I am quoting from “The Secret,” but it doesn’t hurt to circulate the wealth you have to start getting it to flow back to your coffers. As soon as this campaign got off to such a great start, I pulled out my checkbook and made small contributions of $5 to $100 to organizations and other artists projects. It’s about gratitude and the cycle of giving.
9. Look at this campaign for its longevity and the community you will create.
Just say no to “gimme, gimme, gimme”… you’ve actually created in your community of contributors, a community that will stay connected to your project and feel proud in what you are creating. These are the people who will support you in the long haul of your very long career. This is your community of support.
10. For every person who supports, let it make your creative process feel that much more assured.
You are blessed.
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Category: Blog, cat lady, winnings | Tags: catsourcing
December 22nd, 2010
For the first time ever in my career, I’m attempting to use “crowdsourcing” to raise money for a project. And holy shit. It’s working!
In my 10 year career, I’ve always relied on grants, fellowships, ticket sales, honorariums, merchandise sales, and side gigs to make it happen. I always thought that the time it would take to raise money from individuals would never justify what I’d raise. And I really feared being that annoying panhandling artist that everyone went out of their way to ignore. I feared that asking for money from individuals would be met with annoyed stares and unsolicited retaliation cries of: “You talentless bitch!”
And my pride couldn’t risk that rejection. Yes, there is a kernel of pride under this thick mask of self-deprecation.
I mean, weren’t all my friends broke? Certainly all the people I’ve dated have been. And this show I’m making doesn’t even look like it may play as many cities as Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest did. Why would anyone want to put money into a show they may never get to see live?
But curiosity (and a real dire need to raise finishing funds for CAT LADY) got the best of me when I was approached by the US Artists website to be part of their group of “Alpha Artists.” Essentially, I am part of a group of (vetted) guinea pigs who is helping test drive the site. Unlike Kickstarter and Indiegogo which is open to everyone, the US Artists project site is only open to artists who’ve been “vetted” with specific grants they’ve already received. US Artists takes 19% percent of what we raise (the other sites take less than 10%) BUT the advantage is that about $2k of the funds I raise will be matched by grants within the US Artists site. So almost all my contributions are doubled!
With 75 days to go, I’ve raised 76% of my initial funding goal. I am having that Sally Field, “You like me, you really like me!” moment as each day contributions roll in faster than I can write this blog about it.
I had thought: ” I think I can find 1000 people to give me $5 a piece.” What I didn’t realize is that I had friends more generous than that. A few of my friends who have given generously are pregnant (well, Leilani just gave birth, but the point being, people with families are helping me!), artists and students are throwing cheddar at me!
Most contributions I am getting are for $50! And right now, all my contributions are being automatically matched! So they actually turn into $100 contributions! So exciting!
But most importantly, I’m feeling really validated for my work, and energized in a new way about completing my process. This artist life stuff looks ideal but it’s depressing as hell sometimes. So to know all these people, some who I haven’t seen in years care enough to give me some money is so exciting and affirming.
I think at this rate, I may raise my goal of 5k at the end of the year. My real goal is to raise 15k. I set it at 5k because I didn’t want to risk falling way off the mark and not get any of the money pledged.
I’ll post my tips for how I am making this campaign work in a future post. In the meantime, help make my campaign a success!
(Also, I’d like to ask my family to only give after I’ve made my target goal, reasons to be explained later.)
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Category: artist life., cat lady, cat pee, vision, winnings | Tags: catsourcing
November 9th, 2010
Assume what you will about the Miami theater scene here but my experience thus far working with MAD CAT Theater Company (the company producing my show here) has been tight.
LA Theater has nothing on the resources here. First off! People and space! And the people are not flakes or disrespectful (at least not yet)! Where did all this space and people come from? We went into our first rehearsal yesterday with the company members who will be supporting the production of my show in two weeks and I think I counted at least ten people at the table yesterday… all there to support my SOLO SHOW.
Ann, is the most amazing board member of MAD CAT. She’s not an actor, just someone who makes sure all the business is taken care of so we can focus on making the best show possible. Is this real?! You mean, I don’t have to simultaneously write a grant and my play?! WOW!
Then there Elaine, the stage manager who has built a model of the stage with the set design. She sends “stage manager reports” after rehearsals. I got said stage manager report in an email later that night and read each thorough detail of what happened in the time we were working and was like, “WOW! What’s this?”
Folks who do theater right will tell me, “Well, Kristina, that’s how it’s supposed to work.”
Exactly. Not rehearsing in living rooms. Not being berated by flaky directors or actors. Not doing it all by yourself. In theory, that’s how is is supposed to work. But I get a dose of how it’s supposed to work hardly ever (says the martyr). And so, I’m really enjoying being taken care of, staying in a house that’s a short bike ride from the beach. And editing and punching the heck out of this script so it looks tight as a pair of lycra leggings next week.
My big Miami fun this weekend was that I went to Lil’ Wayne’s “Free Weezy” party. What’s more Miami than going to a stripclub/nightclub/barbershop/BBQ called “King of Diamonds” where rappers throw themselves big party after going to jail for weapons possession?
Like a KISS concert, I did up my face with my fave Lil’ Wayne face tatts and headed over!
It was $150 to get in, so we had to settle for hanging out with the parking attendant. Enjoy!
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Category: artist life., Blog, miami, the quiet i am screaming for, The Wong Sans Wheels Chronicles, winnings
July 25th, 2010
Finally!!! After hundreds of hours of working with Mike Closson at his editing studio by the sea, we’ve finished my first concert film. No longer do I answer that question “Sorry, I missed the show, did you tape it?” with the agitated answer: “It’s not the same thing!!! Go away!”
Now the answer is, “Yes, yes, I do have a DVD of my work. Buy it.”
The DVD is not for sale for private home use yet. But if you are a student, professor or librarian, you can buy a copy for your institution. Info is here.
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Category: art talk, Blog, hollywood wong, i'm kristina wong, winnings