Chatting About Big Projects

Julie and Julia

Today I’m talking to my friend Renée Camus about some of her current big projects.

Renée: Hiya!

Nicole: Hi! So tell me: why aren’t YOU doing NaNoWriMo this year?

Renée: Frankly I’m proud of myself for doing anything at all like this! I’ve known about it for a little while from a friend of mine, but I don’t really write fiction, so it wouldn’t occur to me to do it. I know you don’t have to write fiction, but that’s usually what novels are. But I wanted to participate in some way, and I need to contribute to my blog more often, so I’m doing NaBloPoMo. …doesn’t quite roll off the tongue in quite the same way, but there it is.

Nicole: NaBloPoMo flows off the tongue, sort of! Also it sounds totally postmodern. Blogs ARE postmodern.

Renée: That’s true.

Nicole: So you’ve been putting up a blog post every day, yes?

Renée: Yep, since Nov. 1.

Nicole: That is awesome. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year either, and I’m not doing anything cool like a NaBloPoMo project. Every year I want to, and every time November rolls around and I feel way too busy.

Renée: It’s tricky. I imagine you do/did that anyway, but for me it’s a challenge. Yeah, I don’t know why they choose November for either of these. November is always a busy time of year as we gear up for the holidays. But maybe that’s why: you want something done, ask a busy person. Actually, NaBloPoMo can be done any month of the year, but the main one is November.

Nicole: Oh, cool! November is a weird month for projects. Like, there’s also Movember and… there must be at least one other one. VEDA isn’t until April, um…

Renée: I’m not familiar with VEDA…

Nicole: Vlog Every Day (in) April!

Renée: Ah, cool! I’m trying to do a little more vlogging, of a sort. I’ve started a “series” of videos where [my husband] Alex and I talk about movies, but I only have one on YouTube, and then a huge stack of them on my computer waiting to be edited. It takes a lot of time!

Nicole: Yes, it does. It didn’t used to, not nearly as much. Remember when you could just put your face in front of a camera and it was okay? Now you have to have the intro music and the cute title card and look super professional. (Which I know you and Alex will do because your vids are AWESOME)

Renée: Aw, you’re sweet! Well, my movie vids aren’t quite like Alex’s other vids, but I like to make them kinda cool. I hope. Not sure how professional we look in them. But that’s part of why it takes so long, I like to add little commentaries and things to it, like pictures or parts of the trailer to enhance it, stuff like that. I need to learn how to do it faster—while also juggling the other stuff I’m working on. I never really did a lot of vlogging before tho, like you did. You were really great at that.

Nicole: Ha, I just opened my mouth and a huge stream of noise came out. But it was fun, back in the day. That was, like 2010-2011. BACK IN THE DAY.

Renée: Right!

Nicole: So why do you think we are attracted to these big projects?

Renée: I do feel like I missed the boat a little. You got in it early, when things were still new and fresh. Now everyone’s doing it, including absolute professionals who work in TV and movies, and they’ve made it more challenging for laypeople like me. I sometimes feel a little irked by it, I hate to say, like they’re taking it away from us. Kind of like the whole Zack Braff/Kickstarter thing.

Nicole: Exactly. I mean, nothing wrong with Zack Braff doing a Kickstarter, but it’s like everything has to be a big public professional PROJECT now.

Renée: Yeah, it’s true. Boy, I don’t want to think about that too much cause if I do, I’ll never get anything finished again! So, why am I attracted to the big projects… cause everyone’s entitled to my opinion. No. Um, I like to learn, and forcing myself to work with video and WordPress helps me learn them. I also hate this about myself, but I definitely tend to look for validation in others, and I’m hoping someone will notice my stuff and then hire me for more (paid) work. What a concept. I’m trying not to do things for validation as much, but it’s true.

Nicole: Well, that’s what it is, though. Call it visibility instead of validation if you want.

Renée: Yeah, true.

Nicole: When people become visible, they get more opportunities. That is, like, the story of my career.

Renée: Yep! It’s pretty amazing. I’m very jealous of you.

Nicole: Well, I get a lot of people who ask me “how can I do what you did?” and I really don’t know. The answer is “you make stuff and you share stuff and you connect with people,” but that isn’t necessarily a 1:1 correlation. You can make stuff and share stuff and connect and still not get The Job or The Money or The Whatever It Is.

Renée: Very true. Funny, I think JoCo [Jonathan Coulton] has given the same response in the past.

Nicole: I’m probably sure I read it, internalized it, regurgitated it.

Renée: I think a difference with you (and JoCo actually) is that you fill a very specific niche that people want and/or need. I’m sort of still trying to find what that is for me. I’m getting noticed as a dance writer, I think, but I’m mostly getting noticed from PR people who want me to write about their projects. They’re not paying me for that. Or they’re not the ones who would pay me for that.

Nicole: They’re paying you, though, yes?

Renée: The PR people aren’t, no. Except in show tickets. Which is really cool, but I can’t buy food or rent with them. Truth be told, I’m not making much money at all right now. I’m sure that’s not helpful, since you mostly write about finances.

Nicole: I have no real advice except to say “tickets are not payment, you deserve payment.” I mean, you can ask the PR people for money, but I bet they’ll already have a reason why they’re going to tell you no.

Renée: Yeah, that’s not really how it works. The PR people let me know about their events in the hopes that I’ll cover it in the publications I write for. But I’m not making enough money from the publications I write for. I’m trying to pitch some stories to other places, but they usually get their in-house staff to cover those events.

Nicole: Oh, I get it.

Renée: But if it’s a show I really want to see, then that’s fun. I don’t always have to write about it either, but I sometimes feel badly if I don’t. A habit I kind of need to break. (I feel guilty about everything, all the time, anyway).

Nicole: The resting condition of modern life.

Renée: Ya!

Nicole: Also, I feel guilty about this, but it’s time for me to wrap this up and post it on The Billfold! So thank you for chatting with me. I always love hearing about your projects. :)

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