EP 132: Reconceptualizing Success (1): With C E Hoffman, Author of "Sluts and Whores"

Updated: Feb 17



Listen on Spotify.

Read the transcript of Part Two here.


Summary


In this episode, @tete.depunk and I interview C E Hoffman, the author of "Sluts and Whores."


“Sluts and Whores” is C’s debut collection of short stories and poems that challenge negative stereotypes of sex workers via a dark magical landscape. It was published by Thurston Howl Publications in 2021.


This powerfully-written collection is nearing its one-year anniversary so we’re going to discuss what it means to be successful. C covers how they’ve come to define success since publishing their work, while me and Tete touch on how Tapas has helped us define success.


We also touch upon the ups and downs of publishing and promotions. We explore how to get published in the following episode.


Check out C's website here: https://cehoffman.net/


Buy "Sluts and Whores" through Amazon and other online stores!


The book is also available at other stores! Just Google "Sluts and Whores C E Hoffman" and you should be able to see other places you can buy the book.



Transcript


Note: I've highlighted the main points of the interview in red.


Fortunus Games:


Hi, everyone! Today, we have a very special guest: we are interviewing none other than C E Hoffman, the author of "Sluts and Whores."


"Sluts and Whores" is C's debut collection of short stories and poems

that challenge negative stereotypes of sex workers via a dark magical landscape. The link to buy the book is in the description.


This powerfully written collection is nearing its one-year anniversary, so we're going to discuss the ups and downs of publishing and promotions, and we're also going to be talking about the concept of success and how it applies to writing.


So first of all, congrats on reaching the first anniversary of your book being published. How does it feel to have been published for a year now?


C E Hoffman:


It's a mix of surreal and Sisyphean, I'll admit. On the one hand, I am overwhelmed by gratitude, of course, but on the other hand, you realize as soon as you get published, especially a full-length manuscript that your work has yet begun


Fortunus Games:


How do you feel like? Do you feel like your work has yet to be done, like, are you adding more things? Do you think you will be republishing your work with more additions?


C E Hoffman:


I mean, definitely, when you receive feedback en masse as opposed to beta readers or friends, you definitely get a different perspective of the work than you anticipated, which may not necessarily lend to editing that previously published work.


It definitely lends to what you're going to focus on in the future. You know, people always say you need to stay true to yourself and your muse, and I totally agree, but artists don't live in a vacuum. We also live amongst our audience and it's really important to hold that feedback and use that even if it is feedback where you recognize, well, that person just wants something that I don't offer and I can move on.


Fortunus Games:


That’s true. How have you defined success as a writer? How would you suggest writers define their own idea of success?


C E Hoffman:


I just love that so much because, of course, I've been contemplating on this a lot with the anniversary of the book so nigh and I think the reason artists especially find difficulty qualifying our success is because there’s so often an incongruence regarding our financial trajectory and our career trajectory.


We can actually hit an apotheosis-like publication but still like me, be stuck in a pretty abstemious financial situation.


And I think that's a greater problem - it's a societal problem for sure. It's probably - sorry to kick Aristotle butt here, but it's kind of a materialist problem too. The value that we've put on money so much, you know, that we've assumed.


We really have assumed a meritocracy, but I find that materializing the ideal is way more difficult than it sounds. I think a person can have a fantastic idea and even a great product and that's not always even the same thing, but that won't necessarily amount to sales, especially in this day and age.


It won't necessarily result in being known in that traditional way that I myself

have associated with success, so it's a real jigsaw puzzle, an emotional jigsaw puzzle for writers, I think, especially because anybody can be a writer and technically anybody is a writer as long as they have social media or anything like that, so the very craft and the very art is continuously evolving and it keeps us on our toes spiritually, intellectually, creatively.


So it's very, very difficult, but I have been going into this idea of success a lot, like pertaining to the career versus financial aspect.


Winston Rowntree is such an amazing illustrator and writer in their own right and they're actually illustrating and animating the short film based on one of the short stories in my collection that's going to come out in celebration of the book.


And that's a huge success on its own, but it's an artist-led success.


Its something that I did that I fundraised that Winston helped fundraise via Kickstarter, but he has this amazing series called “peopleWatching.” Anybody listening, you should definitely check it out and there's this great episode called, like, “The Secret Losers Society,” I think is what it's called, where it's people who are secretly losers or people think that they're not and one of them is a writer.


Yeah and oh my gosh, he has this point where he's like, you know, anytime I go back to my hometown, people come up to me and tell me how amazing and successful and famous I am but I literally made 12k last year.


And that just makes me laugh so much because I looked at my taxes and I made 4k last year, so if I'm only judging success via those terms, I'm not coming up with some great numbers.


But if I allow for a broader abstraction of success, that success has to do with much more than what we can see, I come to a greater emotional conclusion. But that's a work in process, I mean. We all struggle with the division between art and self, but art is a huge part of ourselves and ourselves are a huge part of our art.


So we do qualify them similarly when we put our art out there we're putting a huge chunk of our heart out there - or our babies, whatever you want to call it, so it's a very vulnerable thing for us and it's difficult to feel rejected even if you're not being rejected again.


Artists are so sensitive and I think one of the worst things pertaining to success as an artist is the myth of the overnight success.


Nothing grates me more than that idea of the overnight success. There's no such thing. Any overnight success that we know about they have been toiling away for 10 years minimum as a rule. Usually, most of us, we started this when we were kids.


I know I did. I wrote my first novel when I was 11 and that's a long time coming, just to be almost 30 now and finally having a full-length publication out there.


Fortunus Games:


Absolutely. I mean, a lot of the overnight successes are basically kind of manufactured by the media because it makes a good story.


C E Hoffman:


Exactly. We really want that sound-byte of success, you know, and I love the idea, kind of the more Stoic idea that true joy true happiness needn't be found in hedonistic happiness, but in eudaimonic happiness, in effort, the effort and energy that we put in, something the actual process.


So if you're deriving fulfillment and joy from that from the sweat the blood and the tears that we all know goes into writing, I think that's a success.


I think if you're just trying to sleepwalk through the process, whether that's the conception, the actual writing, the editing, the promotion, and you're just waiting for that fallacious castle in the sky where you can put your feet up, I don't think you actually want what you think you want.


I think there's more avarice in that than passion, and I think that's the best definition of success is, “Have you truly followed your passion? Have you not only

followed it, but have you committed yourself to it?”


Fortunus Games:


That's so true, and I think, Tete, you have a lot to say about that because you have realized similar conclusions this year, haven't you?


Tete.Depunk


Yes, yes, I have. I do understand so very well the blood sweat and tears that go into writing and, you know, not only that, but you know, balancing that with the strains of other things in life and how, you know, it's so hard to compartmentalize it that it becomes kind of a holistic unit at times, and it can be frustrating because life demands a certain compartmentalization of us as the writer and then us as ourselves in a society as workers or citizens and such.


And I understand the joy that comes from hard work. I certainly understand that you can't derive this sort of hedonistic pleasure from wanting to reap success instantly or think of this as you know just solely on the basis of that kind of conventional success.


And I understand that very well and my friend, Fortunus Games, has really

encouraged me to pursue the self as a writer rather than ignore it and be brought down by you know a system that would encourage people not to pursue it, and I've been very grateful for Fortunus Games’ encouragement and all of her help and advice.


I did have a couple of questions. One question I wanted to ask is, “Given the concept of success explored here, what rewards have you seen resulting from your successes?”


C E Hoffman:


Oh, I love that so much. I love a lot of what you said, of course, because you're so right that this dopamine-driven society actually kind of looks down on the true effort that results in true success and I think that true success is mostly internal.


I think for me, when I look at it, I really try to measure these successes by my amount of gratitude and my amount of generosity.


I think those are two of the greatest treasures that humankind can behold, and there have been frustrations. You know, I'm not gonna candy coat this process by any means. That would be naive and misleading. There's been so many ups and downs, but there's been many a zenith as well and most of that is internally driven where I am so humbled. So I think that's been the best thing about it for me, personally, is that it's really really opened up my heart chakra, that ability to receive, that ability to celebrate myself, to accept myself where I am.


And then, of course, again, though, this seems to be an iteration here, maybe, it's a theme. We don't belong in a vacuum, so as much as that's been a real blessing for me personally, I have to be really grateful as well for the community that's evolved around the inception and publication of this book.


You know, I have so much to thank my publisher, who is also a very hands-on

Editor. You know, I have to thank all of the people that were involved in the short

film and I just have to thank so many friends who are willing to be fans, which I think is the best thing you can ask for.


And I have to thank the Twitter writing community. I mean, that was how I met you two and I'm very grateful to be sharing this space with you and so many others. Just amazing people. Too many honestly for me to name right now.


During Mercury retrograde, I don't think names are gonna come quickly to me, but I think that's the best thing is that, again, you're sharing a really ugly, beautiful, raw, wailing piece of yourself and you're putting that naked heart out into the world and it means so much when fellow heartbearers respond and say thank you.


I think like it's so easy to create this kind of divisive attitude where it's like, oh, there's artist and there's audience. And I totally disagree with that. I think especially for a truly successful artist, their audience is composed of other artists. You know, we comprise our own fan bases, we support each other, we lift each other up, we collaborate.


When you look at some of the greatest literary movements, you know, the Harlem Renaissance, the Beats, the Romantics, you know, what were they called, I think they're called the Inkwells, you know C.S Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. They were all friends who encouraged each other and gave each other a space to thrive.


You know, as personal as art is, we can't do this alone.


Fortunus Games:


I totally agree.


Tete.Depunk:


Absolutely. I absolutely agree. I mean, that is such a key part and I think we're so very fortunate now to have social media and connect on a better level, connect on a more personalized level and find people who vibe with us so well and that we're able to learn from them and they're able to learn from us and it's so wonderful to be part of the writer community and meet and engage and support and collaborate you know with fantastic creators like yourself and Fortunus Games.


And you're absolutely right. It’s such a vital part to not only an author's health, but I think the welfare of their own creation and creative process.


Fortunus Games:


I think it's also a really motivating factor as Tete has found out this year by joining Tapas,io which is a site where we both post our works. And you know, Tete has really attracted a lot of attention there through her works, and I think a lot of the comments there are what really make you want to keep on posting your work.


Tete.Depunk:


Absolutely, it surely is. I think the best motivator is to know that there is a purpose to the writing and that it is being enjoyed by people and that the story itself has purpose and that the characters are loved, because I think there's nothing more crushing to a writer than to do then to create their craft and have no one to enjoy it or appreciate it or feel something from it or appreciate it.


And it has been such not only a leap of faith but there's been such a wonderful synergy from the various creators on Tapas who have given such wonderful support.


And I've been very fortunate to learn about themselves but also their wonderful works. Many of their works are just truly compelling like it's better than anything that's being put out there by mainstream media and I'm really amazed by them and I'm amazed by their support as well.


C E Hoffman:


I love that because we have to admit it's always the pleasantest surprise when a friend or someone just in a community, someone of an indie status, is really good at what they do.


You know, I think, it's like when you go see a local band, you have a certain bar and that is placed there because of the mainstream presumption, right, the bandwagon fallacy, right, if it's popular, it must be good. If it's not popular, it must not be, and we don't realize that there are tons of just industrial algorithms that actually decide what's popular and what's not.