A very public work-in-progress for more than a year, Memoirs of a Dilettante is the self-published semi-autobiographical debut of Helena Hann-Basquiat.
But who, you ask, is Helena Hann-Basquiat?
Helena is a wearer of many hats: seasoned traveler, spotter of pee stains, comic book aficionado, accidental stripper, manic depressive, macaroni artist, jilted lover, and the world's greatest aunt. She's also a hell of a writer.
With that many titles under her belt, you can see why she prefers to just be called a dilettante.
The one thing Helena is not, however, is a very good salesperson. Her business skills leave a lot to be desired in just about every way you can imagine. When I told her to submit her info to Kickstarter, she asked me what number to fax it to (and where she could buy a fax machine, and also... what's a fax machine?)
That's where I come in. My name is Jim Squires, and I'm Helena Hann-Basquiat's business partner, buddy, and all-around biggest fan. If you want to know why, just read the following excerpt from the book we're asking you to support, in which she explains the word dilettante far better than Webster's ever could:
I am a dilettante, darlings, no doubt about it. But don’t you dare call me that as an insult. No, I’m taking the word back and re-branding it. I may not be a professional, but I am no wannabe, either.
See, dilettante is kind of the ‘N’ word for artistic types (the ‘N’ word being novice, of course — where did you think I was going with that? Did you think I was going to say neophyte?) as it is dismissive and insulting to those of us who delight in dabbling and experimentation, and brands us with a big scarlet letter that burns no less than the one dear Hester Prynne was forced to wear. Only the letter that we dilettantes are forced to wear screams Dabbler. As in, Not good enough. Of poor quality. The work of an admirer, as opposed to an artist. As if we have no respect for the craft. As if we seek validation by putting ourselves in the same category as someone more talented — and there are degrees of talent, no question. As if we don’t take what we’re doing seriously — as if we are not artists unless we are on television.
Want more? You can read the following excerpts from the book at helenahb.com:
- Couche-Tard and the Jumping Asians
- Cummerbund Bandersnatch and the Girl With the Wet Spot
- The Good, The Bad, and The Hipster
- The Return of the Barista With No Name
- An Indecent Proposal
But rest assured, darlings, that whatever I do, I will do my best — I will continue to hone my craft, and I will refine my raw materials down to the purest form, and sand off the rough edges, and shake off the dross and separate the wheat from the chaff, and only present the finished works when they are, indeed, finished — or, if not finished, then I will present them as a curiosity of sorts — portrait of a spectacular failure.
Helena's words are too damned good to not bring to a bigger audience, so with the debut of Memoirs of a Dilettante, I've pledged to help her get the word out in any way I can. And that means dreaming a bit bigger than what she had in mind.
So we need some money. From you. Pretty please.
Helena's initial plans were to launch this as a small self-published e-book, promoted exclusively to her existing readership. After talking with me, that goal has changed. Her new goal -- the goal of this Kickstarter -- is to raise enough funds to do a small print run for a softcover release. If we can do this, we should be able to get the book into some indie-friendly bookshops, libraries, and bring it to small press expos, literary events, and self-publishing friendly gatherings like Word on the Street and Toronto Indie Arts Market.
It will also give us the physical copies we need to deliver the book to those who can help us spread the word best: reviewers.
In addition to this sometimes autobiographical, sometimes completely made-up book (which was built slowly in front of an audience as blog posts -- neat, right?), Helena also writes short horror fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell. Under this pseudonym, she was recently featured in Dagda Publishing's futuristic short fiction collection All Hail the New Flesh.
Her contribution to All Hail the New Flesh, titled The Best Medicine, is among the rewards you can get for backing this project.
If we meet our goal, those who have pledged for an eBook will have it delivered before the end of March in EPUB, LIT and MOBI formats. Those who want a print edition will need to wait a little longer -- we're shooting for June -- but should be just as satisfied once they get it.
If you're looking for a little extra incentive, Helena will be offering a few rewards here that will remain exclusive to this Kickstarter project. Our cover artist, the legendary and talented fashion illustrator Ros Webb (whose work has appeared in Vogue, Marie Claire, and more) has created portraits of Helena and her niece that -- if you back at the right level -- you'll receive as frame-worthy postcards. (learn more about Ros Webb at roswebbart.com)
Plus, if you order a print edition of the book, Helena will be happy to personalize it with a hand-written message that you won't find anywhere else.
And yes -- as you've probably guessed from the title -- Helena is hard at work on Volume Two. If you back Volume One and love it as much as we do, be sure to keep an eye out for Helena's continuing adventures (many of which you can find at helenahb.com)!
Risks and challenges
We're pleased to say that we've squared away just about every possible roadblock you can imagine. The written element to this project is already complete, the eBooks are prepared, a printing situation has been arranged (pending funding), and we've even proofed the author's copy. Face it tiger -- you just hit the jackpot.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)