Of crowdfunding and its tenuous link to socialism

Willow’s Creative Process

I’m off work today because I have an appointment here in Greenville later, and of course, that means CLEAN THE KITCHEN and THINK ABOUT ALL THE THINGS that would make for great blog posts and/or new novels. Most of the time it stops there with the thinking, but not today. Lucky, lucky, Lettuce Readers.

I got to thinking this morning about crowdfunding. A good friend of mine and fellow Rennie/HOEF-er has posted a Go Fund Me for her precious boy, Rowan, who was hit by a car after accidentally getting loose. It could happen to any of us. It has happened to me, minus the car, when my three greyhounds got out the front door of my house – not once, but three times – before I learned that if you closed ANY door in that house the pressure would cause the front door to pop open if it was not locked. I know that terror. I cannot imagine the rest of it and hope that I never will. Please follow the link above and if you feel so inclined, donate – but at least give it a share.

I’ve actually been thinking about crowdfunding a lot because I’m staring down a summer without my bi-weekly allowance from the university where I work. Nine-month employees are required to sign up for that deferment annually, and somehow this past August it completely slipped my mind. My paychecks are a bit higher this academic year, but with each one, I’m reminded that I will essentially be living on what I can hustle through freelance interpreting gigs over the summer. I am investigating Patreon as a way to supplement what I’m earning via interpreting so that I can continue to work on my novels, but I’m not sure that it would work OR that I would be able to live with myself. (This is the point at which socialism comes in, in case you guys were wondering.)

To me, one of the basic tenets of socialism is taking care of each other. Sharing your wealth, sharing your food, sharing whatever you have with everyone else, regardless of what they can share with you in return. Socialised medicine happens when everyone shares the burden of paying for everyone’s health care, for example. We already practice some socialism here in the US – I pay a part of my taxes to support education, even though I don’t have children. Other people do, and those children will grow up to lead our cities and states and country, and I don’t mind helping them.

The idea behind Patreon is a simple one. In the past, creative types would find wealthy patrons to support them so that they could create their art. Now, instead of one wealthy patron, this outfit seeks to connect people who want to support artists of all genres with those artists. I first learned about it because of an artist that I like, Amanda Palmer (the link there is to her Patreon page). She was in on the ground level and has an excellent explanation of the difference between Patreon and Kickstarter on the page linked above. If you browse around the site, you will find just about any kind of artistic endeavor you could possibly imagine – most of which have at least a few dollars of funding. While this is a way for well-known artists to take the producer/middleman out of the equation, for some this is their sole means of being able to do what they love.

This would be the second point at which I bring up socialism. You like to read fantasy novels? I like to write them! Perfect! Not exactly. I am just starting out as an author/indie publisher, and I can already see improvements in the second and third books in the Nature Walker Trilogy when compared to the first book. I’m learning. I’m listening to my beta readers and editors. On the rare occasion when someone leaves me a review or contacts me to talk to me about how they found the first book (or my back catalog of dog books), I get feedback that I can use to become a better writer. All of this I do in my limited free time when my brain and my hands are not overwhelmed with work from my day job that pays for our house, food, car, etc. etc. etc. I just wonder how much better and more organized I would be as an author without the weight of the day job – and that’s what a program like Patreon could help me discover.

But the point of this post was not my financial woes, it was how wonderful I think programs like Patreon, GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and others of their ilk are in our society today. As an American, I was raised to look at socialism as an evil thing that took away my unique ability to DO IT MYSELF. These organizations allow others to offer help so that it isn’t all on me or other artists. I saw someone say on Facebook yesterday that you can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don’t have any.

Now, can I accept those bootstraps if they are offered? That’s another blog post for another day. 

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