How to Stalk Yourself: A Manual for Creatives Filling the Gaps in their Curriculum Vitae

If you are a creative that likes to focus on your creative work, necessary administrative details can often be neglected. And then suddenly you are on a deadline for that a funding application, and WELP! you haven’t updated your CV in years. But you remember doing shit, right?

Didn’t I speak about cyborg ontology at that feminist conference in Poughkeepsie back in ‘08?

Here is some pro-tips from an expert stalker of clients with glaring holes in their CVs on how to source missing publications, exhibitions, discography, etc. sometimes decades after the fact. It is of particular use for academics, musicians, writers, performers and artists. Even if you think you are pretty organized, there might be some time-saving tips in here for you.

PRE-AMBLE: CREATE A SYSTEM

Before we start, save yourself a lot of headache and just fucking create a system. Swallow this bitter organizational pill and DO IT.

But if you are in panic mode, skip this section and go straight into: HOW DO I FIND THE SHIT!!?? sections that follow.

EPHEMERA:

The most important thing to do in keeping track of your performances and whereabouts really will be your box of ephemera: posters, programs, conference badges, etc.

Why store ephemera if everything is online? Online events and listings have short shelf lives. It is very often hard to back track events even two years after the fact. Author/Artist Facebook pages are great to backtrack events if you have been consistent at posting them (and only as good as the information you or someone else originally published), but for publications you’ve written posted to your wall, a lot can get lost in the signal noise of your others posts. And if you are using your Facebook page to repost another organization’s events, good luck if that info will still be around in a few years time.

Ephemera is also great for events that took place where a foreign language is predominate if you performed abroad. As well, many universities and smaller venues actually leave no digital imprint of performances/readings/lectures.

So make a habit of keeping an extra copy of that postcard, poster or program, and file away by year in a large manila envelop or file folder that is marked by year. If there is only a badge, keep the badge as a reminder of the event. It’s amazing how often you forget what you’ve done.

Keep in mind, ephemera usually lacks some essential info: particularly the year, the exact title of your keynote, or last minute program changes. You can pencil this in the back of ephemera.

As a writer/performer, keeping a box of archives is also a good idea for managing your legacy. Writers/performers will donate archives to libraries, have gallery exhibitions, and even sell items online. It’s also helpful to support your career as a professional if tax agencies come knocking on your door.

CONSIDER USING AN ONLINE MANAGEMENT TOOL:

There are several tools available to performers that are super handy that if you get in the good habit of using to broadcast performances to fans, some will remove all the heavy lifting for you AND CONVERT YOUR PERFORMANCES INTO CV ENTRIES FOR YOU!!!

Sadly Artistdata.com is defunct, but I’m sure there are similar ones out there. Haven’t used BandsinTown myself but might do the job.

I talk about Facebook Pages at the bottom of this article.

PART ONE: HOW DO I FIND THE SHIT I PUBLISHED!!!??

This section is for writers and performers with things published including LP’s and such. If you are more focused on finding the events you partook in, skip to the section How Do I Find The Events I Did?

If you are prolific and have a lot of work in various anthologies spanning over years, it can be a trial to remember them all as opposed to someone who consistently writes for the same publishing house/magazine. Or maybe there is a new bean counter bureaucrat at your University’s admin office insisting you need to resubmit your Year’s Activities with all the niddling details NO ONE EVER READS.

Here’s some pro tips on sourcing anthologies, books, zines, etc. and a list of websites for finding the missing details on yours books/anthologies to trace publisher, reprints, editors, etc.

Special Note: Do all searches with both your “FIRSTNAME LASTNAME” and “LASTNAME, FIRSTNAME”… different catalogs have different preferences, and you might be surprised what suddenly shows up one way or the other.

If you have access to a university, use their access to databases from around the world and skip a lot of this.

PRIMARY SOURCES

Some publishing houses/magazines/venues are more searchable than others. Awesome to remember all those articles you wrote when they collate them nicely for you under an author page, but if the website’s search bar is a pain in the butt, try a ‘site:websitename.com “YOUR NAME”’ search on Google.

Also, some publishing houses still keep catalogue information not searchable in a search bar, but as pdfs organized by year, so you might have to do a bit of legwork.

In desparation, you can always search through your email for communications with publishers but I sometimes find that counterproductive.

GOOGLE/GOOGLE SCHOLAR/GOOGLE BOOKS

Most people first think of Google as the be all end all to stalking yourself but both Google and Google Scholar run from overwhelming to limited.

Hot tip: If you have a creative legacy, and are a ‘known,’ particularly in academic spaces, try googling “your name” + bibliography. Piggy back on the hard work of your stalkers who might have been keeping track of your activities for you.

Haha, I just found two more references to toss in my CV when doing this for the screencap!

Google Books can be useful for finding exact page numbers. But its search isn’t that reliable.

Hot tip: to cite a book, after you find the exact title, go to Google Scholar and paste that title in. Then press the “cite” button under the first correct entry. Why bother having to do all that niddly blargh citation work if you can grab a quick auto citation?

WORLD CATALOG

World Catalog is great in that it will give you options to see all versions of a publication, including VHS, audiocassette, LP, music scores, etc. It is particularly useful for public reports that might have been produced by a public agency rather than private publishing house. But it doesn’t get everything, so don’t use it as a one stop shop for missing info.

AMAZON

If you are looking for publications that you have not self-published, using Amazon’s search is not really worth it. It’s more data dump than clean sifting.

ISBN DIRECTORY

I’ve had less success with the ISBN Directory but it seems useful for some authors? I dunno. If you know a publications ISBN, do yourself a favor and use an auto-citation app or some such for it to do the leg work for you.

UNIVERSITY CATALOGS:

A lot of university catalogs that will cite rarer books (self-pub, zines, etc) in special collections. I found York University's online search was pretty good and dug up some unexpected rarer gems from very early in a Toronto client’s career.

GO ON FOOT:

You can also foot it to special collection libraries and archives. For example in Toronto, we have V Tape, The Toronto Reference Library, Art Metropole. Some of their websites are pretty handy though too.

ABEBOOKS:

If you are looking to find reprints or finding discrepancies on who published the book, check out AbeBooks.com which will list every hard bound copy it has and publisher info with date. Works with other used antique stores online.

GOODREADS:

Goodreads is useful for sourcing various editions that you might have forgotten about.

To Discover Academic Articles Referencing Your Work:

If you have access to a university, use their access to databases from around the world and skip a lot of this. Note on JSTOR — it’s a headache.

From home, go to Google Scholar. Then above the search bar is My Citations. Edit/Create your author page (also handy to use as part of your system of keeping track of things as they happen). Then it will show you every article that has cited your work in its database.

Discography:

DISCOGS:

Discogs is the best I have found in terms of finding discography publisher, distributor, and format: CD, Audiocassette, etc.

PART TWO: HOW DO I FIND THE EVENTS I DID!!!??

This section will be handy for musicians, artists, and writers who do readings, lectures, talks, workshops, etc.

Special Note: Do all searches with both your “FIRSTNAME LASTNAME” and “LASTNAME, FIRSTNAME”… different catalogs have different preferences, and you might be surprised what suddenly shows up one way or the other.

GOOGLE:

While you might be tempted to just google yourself, if you have a really prolific career, google will be a never-ending rabbit hole to fall in to.

It still can be great to plug in missing crucial info when you have most of your entry’s info but missing an essential detail.

LOCAL EVENT LISTINGS

Local event listings are super helpful when you are backtracking your performances. In Toronto there are/were several magazines/online magazines that list events (usually someone has manually plugged the listing in to the site: like the event organizer, curator, or promoter) such as BlogTO and Now Magazine. Check out each of the popular local listings in each city/town you have performed.

Some sites have better search capabilities that others. You can always perform a ‘site:websitename.com “YOUR NAME”’ search on Google when you are having trouble sourcing info.

Local magazines are also super great to find articles and reviews written on your performances. Often times you might come across a review you never even knew you had!

Keep in mind also that not all local listings keep ongoing data indefinitely. That is why it is so good to keep that box of ephemera.

PRIMARY SOURCES

You could also go straight to the source, and check out the website of the venue you performed at. See if it has a calendar feature. Keep in mind, smaller venues are likely not going to hold onto data of events for many years. But they might use:

FACEBOOK PAGES/EVENTS

When you are really stuck on plugging in events, Facebook Pages can be of some limited use. Individual events are a pain to search, but some artists and institutions are pretty good at only posting their event listings. Perhaps you performed an event with a friend: check out their Facebook page. They might be better at remember to self-promote than you are and have all the details of the event.

Of course, if you are pretty good at self-promotion using your Facebook Page, and mostly update only your goings on, and not a lot of unrelated materials, it could be as easy as just scrolling down and collecting the info.

Hope these tips help. I’ll add more tips to the article as I think of them.