Levi The Writer — A New Book and A New Service
When I was a child—maybe as early as 8th grade—my dad told me that he wanted to copyright my poetry so that no one ever stole it. In hindsight, it feels at once laughable and endearing. When I read back through some of what I was writing as a middle-schooler, I find it all more cringe-worthy than anything worth coveting. Nevertheless, he was adamant, and we created what he described as a “poor man’s copyright.” I mailed each poem I wrote to myself—officially stamped with time and date by the United States Postal Service—and kept those unopened envelopes in a dresser drawer as proof that I had, in fact, written them (before whoever the inevitable thief of my work might be claimed them as his or her own).
As I write this, the date is September 30, 2019, and this month marks the official ten-year anniversary of my very first tour, ever, out on the West Coast with two bands willing to give me a fifteen-minute shot between set changes each evening.
This October, I’ll commemorate the ten-year anniversary of my very first record, Werewolves.
It’s hard to believe.
I know that most artists take anniversaries like this to do it up, big. There’s a part of me that wishes I had a ten-year anniversary tour to announce to you, today, but alas… I do not.
Last September, my wife and I decided to take a break from the road for this calendar year. I’ve written extensively about what it has been like and, once I solidify the appropriate medium for releasing that material, plan to share it with you, as well.
That said, although I will have played perhaps ten-ish events by the time 2019 is all said and done, my commitment to this “mostly-off-the-road-year” is one I plan to keep.
I’ve shared a bit more about why we made this decision through the ongoing writing, creation and interaction that I have with The Fraction Club, but suffice it to say, after living on tour for my entire adult life, it was time to practice pause.
Something I knew very little about.
Frankly, I’m not even sure that a full year has been enough to unlearn the incessant on-ness that the previous decade has been, but this has been the first time I’ve been in one place for a consecutive eight months in over ten years.
Recently, I've begun offering custom/commissioned poetry and writing to people/organizations who need something story-forward to articulate and/or accompany their events (or whatever the occasion/need may be). My old high school reached out to me about contributing to their twenty-year anniversary gala. In the piece I wrote for them, I shared that:
as i write this,
it is september, 2019,
and for the first time
in my adult life,
i’ve been home for long enough
to feel the seasons change
in one place.
yesterday, i watched
the watermelon sun
set in tones
different than the paint she used
four months ago, and thought,
“i could get used to this.”
Doing something for ten years, and then just not doing it, feels weird. Off. I’ll save you the sob story for now, because I have things I’m more excited to share than another recap about difficulty, but suffice it to say: questions about identity seem to reign.
Who am I disconnected from the road? and Who am I disconnected from buzz? and Who am I if not “The Poet?” and Who am I, period? are questions that—however vain or egoic they may be—arise.
I’ve had an Aaron Weiss lyric playing on repeat in my mind for the past month:
“Tiring of trying, there's a necessary dying
Like the horseshoe crab in its proper seasons sheds its shell”
I love writing like this. It’s the type of timelessness that you can keep learning new things from and about as you age with the words. I've been doing a lot of aging with my own words, lately, as I have begun to dive into a project that has been long overdue.
That said, a recap of the labor of dying, itself, may eventually come, but I’m writing today to tell you a bit about the fruit of it, and how you might be involved, should you choose to be…
Announcement No. 01 — The Book
My dad wasn’t the only one adamant about how important it is to get my writing on paper. Up until now, the closest I’ve come is the Correspondence (a fiction) lyric zine, but everything else I’ve ever written has only been released digitally, through an eBook or blog, or audibly, through a Levi The Poet record.
I want to change that. I’ve already started.
Many people reading this today will be familiar with The Fraction Club.
It is, for all intents and purposes, my own version of an ongoing Patreon/artist support model.
For three years, I treated it more like a digital product than an ongoing donor platform, providing members—in addition to our Discord community—with exclusive writing and extra creative material each week.
It was a blast, and I can’t believe I kept up with it for that long, but I made a shift if our model this year in order that the club might stand to substantiate larger (dare I say “longer-lasting?”) projects.
While I know that creative types, like myself, need structure and deadlines if ever we’re going to accomplish anything, I’ve also heard many an artist articulate their struggle to create beneath the kind of pressure that a new, commodified career becomes under the microscope of patron-eyes. In my case, it was difficult to put the writing time necessary into something more timeless (like a record, book, etc.) while needing to keep up with whatever would prove timely for the next weekend’s roundup.
All that to say, The Fraction Club now acts as a patreon-esque support system for larger projects that will exist as a part of the LTP ecosystem…
Beginning with my first-ever book.
I debated as to whether or not I should tell you about this project, publicly, before the entire thing was assembled.
I felt similarly when I launched the Correspondence (a fiction) Kickstarter. I care about excellence and want to present perfection to the people who will be excited about this announcement… Alas, perfection always escapes me, and waiting around for it to arrive (hint: it never does) only delays creation of any kind.
Plus, folks always announce their book-deal signings years before their books actually come out. I suppose I figure that—on account of being a lot closer to done with this one—it’s appropriate to let you in on the plan now.
That said, my goal, at this point, is to create an artistic memoir of sorts— looking back at, putting into print and commenting on all that I’ve released as Levi The Poet throughout the past ten years.
I’m collecting photography from followers, artwork from collaborators, letters from fans, etc. to assemble a sort of fancy, coffee-table book that will come complete with printed work and hindsight commentary on a full decade’s worth of work.
I will also be including new and never-released writing and art—creative, essay, and otherwise—in the book.
That said, if you would like to be a part of helping me make it happen—if you’d like to be an executive producer of sorts—I could certainly use your help, and joining The Fraction Club is the best way you can both contribute to and follow my progress.
Already, for the past month, current members have been able to see new writing I’m sharing with them, and some of how the book is being laid out.
Additionally, I give The Fraction Club the chance to comment on/provide feedback for the betterment of what I’ll include in these pages.
Each and every person who is a part of The Fraction Club will be listed and thanked, by name, in the book, as well, for your contribution to the creation of this publication.
Rather that doing a big Kickstarter campaign for this book, I am treating The Fraction Club as a similar-yet-ongoing kind of funding for creative projects.
If you’d like to partner with me in support of this project, and those that will follow, please join The Fraction Club today, here.
Announcement No. 02 — Levi The Writer
One of the reasons I decided to make the above shift in relation to The Fraction Club is because of a new/different sort of offering I finally feel comfortable with sharing, publicly, which I've (very slowly) added to my wheelhouse over the course of the past few years. Something closely-enough-related to have stuck with my "Levi the..." shtick, but at the same time altogether separate from LTP.
In 2015, my friend Craig Gross offered me the opportunity to do some contract-writing for him. It was behind the scenes work. I would do it in coffee shops before shows, or while at home from the road, or after everyone had gone to sleep for the night following whatever festival date we’d just called a wrap.
Since then, I’ve written for a ton of clients. I’ve done web build-outs, email campaigns, show promotion, product launches, ghostwriting, lyric editing, poetry lessons, creative consultation… you name it (and you can see every service offered, here).
In some ways, the work feels like a variety show. I’ve written for “starving artists” and household names, record labels and indie grinders, creative agencies and cannabis companies, church groups and Dave Ramsey commercials, and whatever else you can think of…
For a long time, I think I shied away from sharing this aspect of my creative work because so much of the kind of writing people are looking for — often sales driven or marketing copy — has the reputation of feeling so inauthentic. So gross. I think folks within the DIY world that I've been heavily involved in are particularly wary of it. Artist-humans (like myself) can be pretty stubborn when it comes to the way things “should be,” and the “sellout” narrative exists for a reason.
At the same time, it's been fun taking what I've learned about business/marketing in more corporate spaces and bringing it back to help artists create better workflows, or automate some of tedium that tends to overwhelm the day with busywork, pushing out time for creative energy, etc.
I have come a long way when it comes to dealing with others’ perceptions, and some of the most fun/most creative work that I’ve had the opportunity to participate in has been through coming alongside others and helping them find the words (or the tools) that they need in order to see their ideas come alive.
So, I’d like to go ahead and add this to the mix.
Here, you’ll find a brief portfolio, as well as services and a bit of my philosophy behind the creative/copy/consultation work that I offer. As you’ll be able to see, I work with a wide variety of clients, from doctors to breweries, financial advisors to musicians, publicists to podcasters and whatever else you can think of.
While it is my desire to keep a varied wheelhouse, one of the main reasons that I am sharing this with the “Levi The Poet” audience is because:
“Levi The Writer” is the same dude you’ve always known, and
I want to continually involve myself — whether I'm writing for me or for you — in creative spaces.
So, sure, I can do a product launch campaigns for nutritionists (right now I’m helping a local gal get all set up with a new website for her healthy eating program), but I can also work with folks who are involved in the world that continues to capture my heart — this creative, artistic, vulnerable space where (as in all places) growth doesn’t have to be synonymous with fear/scarcity tactics.
I believe in functioning from an attitude of abundance, and it has been a joy to help others clarify and articulate their ideas, and build systems to better get what they’re doing out into the world.
Plus, with the amount of questions that I get from folks who want performance advice, or editing help, or a different set of eyes on their writing, or who want to know how to promote their shows better, or whatever it may be…
I’m stoked to have a place/service where I can finally say, “Yeah, actually, I’m able to help you with that.”
One of the cooler realities about this “LTP” project has been that many of the folks who are here, following my work, are my age. We’ve grown up together. We’ve gone through a bunch of changes together. Some of us are even collaborators on projects, already. Some of us are small business owners who need web build outs, or indie artists who need to figure out how to collect fan info in order to let them know about upcoming shows. Some of you people have turned into inventor genius humans. I love it.
I suppose I’m just putting it out into the world that this is a part of what “Levi, the Human” is doing.
In my mind, those are two pretty big things that I’ve been excited to share, but haven’t known when the right time might be. I suppose I decided that the time is now, so I won’t try to hem and haw about anything else.
If you’ve made it thus far, thanks for doing so, and caring enough to keep up with me. A book long in the making, and Levi The Writer.
What a world.
Don’t forget: if you’d like to be a part of helping me see the book come to life, join The Fraction Club and follow along in real time.
I’ll look forward to seeing you around, one way or the other.