I found out this morning that my father and his wife are flying out to LA, all expenses paid, for a taping of Tool Academy, a VH1 show about nightmare (that's putting it nicely) boyfriends. Why? Because my half brother is a contestant this season. He and his long-suffering girlfriend could win $100K for a month of living in fancy houses, all expenses paid, being filmed around the clock in various stages of relationship hell. Should they be popular contestants, I'm sure they can parlay this reality TV fame into other shows, paid party appearances, they could be gossip magazine fodder, perhaps spokespeople for relatively obscure advertising campaigns.
To put this in perspective of my life (forgive me, but that's how I so often view the world), their potential financial windfall would be over 4 times more than I earned for FLOW—3 years, on and off of dedicated soul-wrenching work. Months of around the clock researching and writing, and then weeks at a time of editing, fact checking, going over layouts, bibliography, credits and acknowledgments. Hours and hours of scanning (I did all the art in the book). Endless time and energy dedicated to PR and getting the word out. Then there's the matter of thousands of dollars spent out of my pocket for the art in the book, and the time spent amassing the collection. Messenger charges. The cost of the menstrual library I'm now a proud owner of. I'd say, at this point, estimating $2 an hour for time spent on this project would be a generous assumption.
All that's fine. The fact that FLOW's out in the world, that I was given this opportunity for it to be what I imagined, that a publisher embraced my vision and gave it life, that for the most part it's been met with enthusiasm, support, accolades, that it's started conversations, opened people's minds, made people think? Doesn't get better. But, for almost a moment, a glimmer, a slight yearning, I imagine what it would be like to earn serious money, media attention, and a spotlight for just about no work.
That's how it goes these days. The greatest rewards, the most fame, for the least amount of effort. Reality TV stardom. Not that I'd EVER want that. But, the thought of having people pay attention, opening doors, listening to what you have to say is really appealing. Especially when there's something important to say.
But, would I sell my soul to date Flava Flave to share FLOW with the world?
Now that's something to ponder . . .