My copy of Poets & Writers came a few days ago and I took advantage of a phantom snow day (no snow anywhere and, at least at my house, no ice--just liquid rain) in my school system and pretty much read it cover to cover, something I don't usually have the time to do at all, let alone in one sitting. I found it inspiring and, at the same time, discouraging. There were stories of people who wrote because they loved it, not thinking at first that they could ever do that for a living. That's where I am right now. I write because I have to. But I'd like to be where they are now. Writing for a living sounds so attractive to me that I am not sure I can put it into words that would make sense to anyone who doesn't already understand. It's like running. I don't remember who said it, but when asked why they run, somebody smart said that to anyone who does it, no explanation is necessary but to anyone who doesn't do it, no explanation would suffice. But writers understand what I mean. I need to write as much as I want to write. And in order to write as much as and in the manner that I want, it would really help if I got paid to do it rather than doing it as a hobby.
The part I found discouraging was that this was the edition that concentrated on writers conferences, workshops, and retreats. I found myself calculating whether one was close enough to drive or another was during a time when I am off from school. But then I stopped myself. I don't have the money to do any of these. For reasons that I won't share, my wife's and my finances are very tight. Our reasons are probably similar to the reasons lots of people have tight budgets--health issues, unforeseen car breakdowns, etc. But, despite our best efforts of late, we are just barely going beyond living paycheck to paycheck. We have savings, but not much and what is there is certainly nothing I could, in good conscience, spend traipsing off to a writer's retreat. If I did have money enough to do something like that, it would more likely go to getting the editing on my first manuscript finished. If I could just do that and sell the darn thing, maybe I could afford to do some of those other things. I guess the old cliche really is true sometimes: you have to spend money to make money.
Which is where the most intriguing article in the journal comes in. It was about crowdfunding. Oddly, I had never heard of the concept until two days ago, and suddenly I heard it in three different contexts in a 24-hour period, the last being this article. It's a deceptively simple concept in which you hit up everybody you know or ever knew and everybody they know for small donations rather than (or in addition to) applying for grants to help cover the costs of your project, whatever it may be. In my case, it is the costs associated with publishing a novel. Frankly, I'm not sure how comfortable I am with going, hat in hand (or, in the case of how I would likely do it, cyber-hat in hand) asking my friends, family, and colleagues to fund my dreams. But I'm definitely not sure I won't do it. I won't do it without offering something in exchange, though I'm not sure what that something could be at the moment. Would a free autographed copy suffice? A promise to support their dream when they come asking? I'll figure it out.
So I may be out there on the interwebs soon, asking for help. If you want to skip the pitch and just send me a check, I'll be glad to give you my address. ;)