Ahhh, it’s Tuesday, and a very humid and breezy day for me in San Diego. But if that brings real rain (sprinkles don’t count) I won’t have to do a naked rain dance in the backyard. For that I’m sure my neighbors will be grateful.
While my son is playing with his dinosaur matching card game and watching the movie Dinosaur (easy to spot the theme of the day, isn’t it? lol) I thought I’d bring up something that made a few waves on Facebook throughout my writing community yesterday. I should start by admitting I’m not really ‘on’ FB much anymore. I pop in weekly – my self-allotted schedule – to check messages on my author page and personal wall, but for the most part, my posts are scheduled and shared to FB right here from my site. Which means I don’t see all the happenings or drama of the FB world. But my writing bestie sent me a message yesterday with only these words: You’re missing the drama on FB today.
Hmm. Normally, I’d shrug and move on…drama isn’t my thing. But curiosity got the best of me. I guessed it was writing related as most of our mutual friends on FB are writers or editors or cover designers. And yep, it was writing related. Kinda. I’m not going to post the specifics, because that would be rude and uncouth of me, since I don’t know the person directly involved, however the topic itself bothers me, and being a writer, I found it sort of incumbent to chat about it. I’m no expert on Author Etiquette, but I’ve had my own ups and downs and obviously seen what has worked and what has not for many others.
The most basic info you need to understand what happened can all be wrapped up in one sentence:
A struggling self-published author is promoting a Go Fund Me campaign asking for $12,000 dollars to support a ‘full-time’ writing schedule.
Obviously, a slew of authors found this surprising, irritating and even offensive. And the topic went viral within my extended online writing community. Here’s why I think this particular campaign bothered so many other writers:
- Anyone can write, but not every writer can write well, and even less will actually publish their work (for various reasons). How a writer promotes their titles and themselves has an impact on their income potential.
- Writing is a creative occupation, a way of life really, that hardly follows a strict 9-5 schedule, but rather a 24/7 thought process of never ending plot twists, messy character arguments and loads of self-doubt. Writing ‘full-time’ is different for everyone, and honestly, most published writers squeeze their writing in among other daily obligations, like family, friends, school, and yeah, other full-time jobs.
- Most writers don’t actually get paid to write. Unless they’ve landed a publishing contract of substance that drops a 5-6 figure advance in their bank account (incredibly rare) that can feed them, their families, and pay their bills, etc…they rely on their royalty income from previously published works to make a living, and if that is not enough, they do what the rest of the world does for income – work another job. Writers are people, too. We all must survive and that means sometimes we have to walk away from the computer or notepad to make extra money. Such is life.
- Asking for help is, in my opinion, a taboo subject. It shouldn’t be, but there are ways to ask for help with tact. I’ve always thought funding campaigns were a way for those in dire need to get help after something truly awful has happened, or something remarkable needs attention. Like a natural disaster that took the home and belongings of a family of six and now needs to relocate, a special needs child who wants to grow up and be president and wants nothing but the funds to get him/her to the Nation’s capital to see the White House in person, a talented Scientist trying to get a new patent off the ground, or like what happened to an author friend of mine recently – the sudden loss of her husband and main financial supporter for her family (one Autistic child and one awaiting a transplant – this is a ‘real’ family in need and the link to their Give Forward campaign will be included at the bottom of this post). Till recently, I didn’t realize how many people actually start up such campaigns to simply make life easier on themselves. Life is not easy for any of us, right? But we all do need help from time to time which is okay, though for most of us, it’s hard to ask for it outside immediate family.
- Assuming that someone else will pay your bills while you pursue your passion is not a luxury most have. I’ll be blunt. Campaigning online to make this happen takes a bit of brazen disregard for the struggles other artists have made to make achieving their goals possible. Sometimes the struggle produces a better result, or a more intrinsic feeling of accomplishment. I love me some Tay-Tay (thanks Dwayne Johnson) but if Taylor Swift had been with the same boyfriend since she was sixteen, would she write such great female angst ridden love songs full of bring-it-on girl power? If JK Rowling hadn’t spent her extra time writing Harry Potter notes out on a paper napkin, would we find her as remarkable a writer and relatable a person as we do? For creative types, the struggle is real. And almost necessary. It feeds the creativity we need for good stories.
To conclude this Thought of the Day, I would never go online and publicly bash this author for a request for financial support, because it takes a nasty amount of energy, plus, I know what it’s like to be broke. My husband and I have gotten loans and asked from help from my inlaws in the past when we needed it. It takes a lot of balls to tell someone you need help with your finances. But on the flip-side, I totally get why other writers would be/and are peeved about the concept behind this. Because it’s happening a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. This particular case is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that I’ve seen someone use a place like Go Fund Me to support their writing. When it comes down to it, writing is a passion and getting paid for your work at all is in itself a remarkable thing. I cried the first time I made enough money to pay the water bill. And last year my writing helped me buy a new car – my first ever. But it hasn’t all been roses and rainbows. I work hard for my passion, as it should be.
My advice is to embrace the struggle. If a writer’s dream is to get published and make writing their full-time career, then it’s not just about publishing as many books as they can in a short amount of time and telling people to buy them. There must be substance and quality involved in the work, copious amounts of effort spent on not just writing, but networking and marketing too. And patience. It takes time to find dedicated readers who love your work and even more time to keep them. A positive attitude will go a long way in this industry. It will take you all the way if you give your best and put in the work to make it happen. I know this for a fact, because I’ve seen it. And I’m on that path. It’s totally possible.
If you want more info about Karli Rush’s Give Forward Campaign check out the link and please share it with your friends. This is one of the ways that funding campaigns can make a difference – by helping an amazing woman in true need, going through a hard time in life. I wish her the best, and even if you can’t afford to donate, you can check out her WEBSITE today, and maybe even find something new to read! Every dollar helps. XOXO