A Letter From Anna March
June 14, 2018
- A writer – someone I have known both socially and professionally — reached out to someone I know and wrote this:
“As you’ve probably gathered by now and from our brief exchange the piece I’m writing is about Anna March. It’s likely you’re aware that there are some good people who are currently being defrauded by her. I’m writing a piece, keeping in mind that, the truth is the most interesting story and the truth is often complicated. It’s mostly my intention to prevent more people from further harm. I would really appreciate your input and candor. I think there are two possible narratives here: 1) a well-intentioned woman with a lot of good ideas who just fails to execute them
2) a literary grifter.”
Then, last Thursday, the manager of a property in Spain where I organized a workshop that was held in April of this year forwarded me an email where this writer said she was doing a story on a “literary grafter” – me.
That is not the narrative.
However, since this writer clearly has a perspective — that I’m a literary grifter — I think the narrative is about to get distorted. In an effort to clarify at least some of what is going to be said — a lot of which will be accurate, I’m sure, and some of which will be inaccurate, I’m sure– i wanted to share some thoughts, for whatever it’s worth. I do not plan to write a response to her piece after it’s published. While taking full responsibility for my own actions, I can’t correct someone else’s narrative. I need to get back to my clients and my work — and I need to move on.
2. I wasn’t surprised to hear that this writer was working on a piece about me, since months earlier this writer had written me – after I had, 8 moths late, personally paid a $1000 award an organization I had founded with others was unable to pay. Rather than cancel the award, I offered to pay it. (Between starting it and the awards ceremony, my relationship had collapsed and I’d moved cross-country – my situation had changed. The organization got through the awards event and then didn’t continue.) She was understandably angry at the delay. I had done my best to get it to her – in the interim my grandmother was dying. It was the best I could do. Me, I’d rather get an award late than not get it at all. Her organization suggested to me it would have been better to cancel the award. That logic defies me, but maybe they are correct.
In any event, she wrote to me, after getting the award: “…just a couple weeks ago, I’d written a piece outing a local L.A. literary figure for not paying his production assistant at an event, and yet for whatever reasons I’ve completely let you off the hook. Why? Because you’re a feminist? Because you’ve had a difficult year? Because you seem to share these goals of diversity in publishing? How do you do this? By shaming me for not being gracious enough when I express relief at finally getting the money? Did everyone have such a challenge getting access to you or getting paid or was it just the less popular, less powerful, less financially secure writers? As a QWOC who fights for economic justice I’m embarrassed for you. The truth is you’re not just as bad as that man who didn’t want to pay the women that worked for him, you’re worse. You with your supposed social justice magazine that pays contributors $25.00? Or can’t pay the award because she’s too busy off hosting writing retreats with a personal chef in Julia Child’s home? Or had a checklist of names in her notebook, people to represent Hello L.A. and then just the word “Asian” with a question mark beside it. So thank you. Thanks for my token award. Thanks for finally giving me the fury it is going to take this year to stand up to fascist assholes and wolves in sheep’s clothing alike.”
(For the record, I’m queer (bisexual) and have identified as such in writing since 2000. I taught a cooking/writing workshop in Julia Child’s home as a way of earning money. I did in fact have a note in my notebook –not a checklist — to be sure that I was reaching out to Asian-American writers for an event in Los Angeles – in an effort to be inclusive. I’ve never acted from tokenism. Roar, a literary magazine I published did pay contributors a $25 symbolic honorarium – most pay nothing and we were proud to offer something. 67% of the writers and editors at Roar identified as people of color. I’m neither a fascist asshole nor a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’m a struggling writer who has made umpteen mistakes and I am someone who takes on too much and does not ensure proper administrative and financial oversight and who often pays the bills late.)
3. My understanding is that this writer has a story forthcoming. I have declined to comment. Instead, I offer some thoughts here. My urge is to go through each point in excruciating detail and try to do what she suggests – paint the complicated truth. So as not to write a tome, instead I am going to try to be brief and address some key points. But mostly what I want to say is this: I have had successes and failures. I am proud of trying to make things work. I regret my shortcomings and failures and apologize for my mistakes. I have never run from them or hidden them. In fact, I’ve tried to be open about them. On my website, in my bio, I link to a piece I wrote where I discuss most of them. I can’t control the narrative – and don’t want to. I have done a lot – a lot – wrong. (Which does not mean that every thing said about me is accurate. It’s not.) I am, truly, sorry. I try. Hard. I work. Hard. And I’m truly always trying to make the world a better place. I’m not a “literary grifter” — I’m here writing and working – and I wanted you to know these things:
- The writer has asked about my name, about a writing center I ran twenty years ago, a business I ran 13 years ago, lies I have told and about a misdemeanor charge for a campaign finance report violation 27 years ago and many other things I have written over the years about in this piece linked here and elsewhere. I do not know what else I can possibly say about any of this. If you have questions, ask me.
- I’ve had the same email address for 8 years, the same cell phone number for as long as I’ve had a cell phone (19 years) and other than a year in LA, lived mostly on the same block in a very small town for most of the last 9 years. I live a really modest life. As in: no car, no health insurance right now. I live simply in a really basic cottage apartment. I don’t have TV, cable, a washer and dryer. Friends lend me money to get to the dentist. If there is an impression that I’m living some glitzy life – it’s not remotely based on reality. I live simply and work about 80 hours a week.
- Did I start and run a business that failed –yes, as 90% of them do. Was I eventually relieved to be informed by my attorney that I had been cleared by a court-ordered receiver of any wrongdoing, fraud, mismanagement, etc.? Yes. Did I run a small struggling literary arts organization of two years – receiving a total of about $9,000 in compensation for the entire time– from bankruptcy back to bankruptcy? Yes. Did I sign a campaign finance report with erroneous information nearly 30 years ago in 1990 when I was 21? Yes. Was I on five years probation and did I pay $18,000 in restitution? Yes. Can I discuss this further? No. Did I get married and change my last name? Yes. Did I four years later change it to first one name that didn’t suit me and then 11 years after that to Anna March? Yes. Have I ever tried to hide my identity, No. (Among other things, I’ve written about it and I’ve never legally sought to change my name. Nor do I think I ever will. And my paychecks and ID I preset for employment and such are always to my legal name – Nancy Kruse – as are my own checks. I carry a driver’s license and credit card with my legal name…and use them, regularly, in my small town. But Nancy is not a name I go by – friends here tease me by calling me “Nance”.) Have I lied? Yes. Does that alone make me suspect? Yes. Does it mean that everything people say I have said and done is true? No. If you have questions, ask me, Please.
- In 2016, the day after the election, I started an online feminist magazine, Roar. We published daily for the first year of the Trump administration. Paying writers and editors. After a year, Roar went on hiatus. Roar has debt. Roar is owned by March Media – not me personally. Instead of declaring bankruptcy when we put Roar on hiatus in January, I have been working to pay Roar’s debts and will continue to do so. This year I have paid, personally, $10K in this debt. In addition I have paid/assumed liability for about another $20K in taxes – we didn’t issue 1099’s on about $75K we paid people, so this became a liability. Roar currently owes about $33K to about 22 people –the bulk of this to 4 editors and 2 workshop assistants (who are owed about $24K). We are in the process of preparing a note to this group of 22 – whom I have been abysmal at communicating with — to let them know that a solid payment plan is forthcoming. This has been in progress and faced various delays. While lawyers and accountants have urged me to just let March Media declare bankruptcy, I’m committed to personally paying off these debts. Do I feel bad about this money owed? Yes. Do I wish I had set up Roar with better administrative oversight? Yes. Have I received any money from Roar? No. Will I ever? No. Will I ever – EVER—start up any kind of business venture where I am responsibly — legally or ethically – for paying others? NO.
- I work as a book midwife helping clients finish their books. I currently have about 30 clients in various stages. (My income from this is the primary way Roar has paid its bills, except for about $20K earned in donations.) I currently owe 2 former clients refunds. People cancel for personal reasons (family emergencies, etc.) and I let them do so and sometimes we’re not a fit. The two current refunds owed are because someone had a very sick kid in one instance and the other is to someone who I dropped the ball on while I was sick.) I have also taught workshops – though other than one small workshop here in my home scheduled for this fall, I no longer plan to teach these. I have refunded about 50 people for workshops in the last several years (people cancel, I’ve cancelled two workshops early on because they didn’t fill, I cancelled two workshops because I was sick). I currently owe 5 people refunds for workshops. (4 not yet due, 1 past due.) Can I be slow to make refunds? Yes. Can I be slow about communicating? Yes. Am I an administrative nightmare? Yes. Have I been since childhood? Yes. Do I need administrative help? Yes. Can I afford it? No.
- While at various times I have thought I was about to have a book deal – because it took me a while to learn the difference between “We want to publish you!” and “We are publishing you!” – I have not pursued this very actively in recent times as I have worked on other writing, and worked about 80 hours a week on Roar and book midwife client work. I always tell my clients, “I need to do for myself what I am doing with you and get my work done so I can sell a book.” Also, I have been swarmed with life. (The last couple years I’ve seen my grandmother’s long illness and death, struggled with depression, gone through several moves as I worked to get from seasonal to permanent housing, and been through the death of a close friend and various family crises. I’ve also been sick a fair bit — a zillion colds, my ongoing dental saga, routine stuff, an ongoing ankle issue and all sorts of endometriosis/perimenopause stuff). I’d recently turned my attention back to getting my manuscripts out. (Actually, when it surfaced last week that this story was forthcoming, I was in the midst of getting two things to my agent that an editor had asked for.) I’ve got a finished novel, an essay collection proposal in development, and a completed special project. Also a memoir done in messy first draft and a new novel that I’m maybe 2/3 of the way through a first draft of. I am hoping to turn back, at least in part, to my own work a bit now.
- I am here. I am working. If you want to talk about anything, you let me know. I am not a literary grifter. I’m a woman who has had good ideas that have been hard to execute and sometimes don’t work out and sometimes do. I am an administrative nightmare. I work hard. I am a fine writer but I like to think I’m a really good midwife and teacher. This is what my clients and students say, and I am grateful to be able to try to help them. I am broke and that often causes struggles of its own. I can’t respond to everything – nor am I even going to try. Once I was accused of not getting an award that I got – I had received it under a different name than the one the reporter checked. Once a reporter said, “You weren’t on tour with X and Y bands doing PR for RAINN as you claimed”– and I invited him over to my house and showed him the photo album of me on the tour. I understand that it is my own actions that make me suspect. I do. I’m sorry I can’t invite you all over to personally examine my life. But I have tried – and am trying – to put it all out there. I am sorry for the many things I have done wrong. I am sorry if I have disappointed you or failed you. I have tried to be as generous to everyone – personally and professionally – as I can be and I will continue to try to do that. I’m right here. And, I will continue to be here.
But first, I’m going to take a week off, turn 50, and try to get some sleep. A best friend of 20 years is coming and I know she will force me to get some sun with her. Swim in the ocean. Float. (Though I float, I am not a witch.) I’ll be back next week. Writing. Talking to clients. Reading their manuscripts. Working. Paying the bills. Trying to do my best. Trying to do a little bit better than that each day.
*edited for grammar and clarity on June 22 and June 24