Friday, November 23, 2012

Thoughts on Asking for Help

I had some folks over for dinner the other night and at one point I was talking about a Blue Collar Attitude and someone asked, "What is that?" and someone else, answering before I could, said, "I DON'T OWE YOU ANYTHING!" Ha. Well, that certainly nailed a major part of the BCA to which I was referring. I grew up with this attitude, which has a sort of corollary, which disallows asking for assistance, lest you wind up owing anyone anything.

At some point in my life, only because I had a crush on a guy who proclaimed to love Faulkner and not due to any genuine self-motivation, I stumbled through As I Lay Dying. I have two main memories of reading that book. The first is that I read it while I was in Japan, where the only other native English speaker I had access to was Henry, who was ten at the time. So my ears would fill up all day on Japanese and fourth-grade English. And in the evenings, my eyes would take in Faulkner. This was such an odd combination, and it thrilled me. I have a very specific memory of looking down from our window high up in the Landmark hotel in Yokohama, clutching my Faulkner, all of which has absolutely zero to do with the actual point I am most hoping to make here today. But hey, it was a cool memory, so I'm sharing it.

The other memory I have, and we're going back a dozen years here, so forgive me if I've lost the plot, is of how the whole mess of the drama in that book all comes back to the father's desire to not be beholden to anyone. Doesn't a barn burn down and a leg get lost and a mule drown dramatically thanks to his Blue Collar Attitude? (Aside: the guy who loses the barn, his last name is Gillespie.)

Before I embarked on a KickStarter Campaign, I thought about it long and hard. I have learned, through life in general and therapy in particular, that it is okay to remove one's blue collar sometimes and ask for help. But still, I think about all the help people already give me all the time. Whenever I have wanted to do a project-- the NAKED calendars come to mind, as well as sundry other fundraisers and the Office of Good Deeds-- folks rush in to participate. So I ask myself: What's the limit here? Why should people give me money to put out my book? Shouldn't I just figure out how to do this on my own? Shouldn't I be embarrassed to ask others to participate in this folly?

Eventually I wrestled that negative voice out of your head long enough to put up the campaign. Then I scored my goal pretty quickly. I believe there exist all sorts of tips and tricks to ask people to keep on giving, even though you hit your mark. And so another internal wrestling match began. Will this make me greedy? And deeper down: Seriously? You're going to aks people to pony up more dough to give to you for doing the thing about which you have held a lifelong passion, and which you will keep doing regardless of funding? 

Maybe what I'm getting at is, wow, if I'd known KickStarter could inspire such fabulously neurotic internal dialogues, I'd have put up a campaign long ago! I meditate every day so that the once constant chatter of self-deprecation had quieted down, relatively speaking anyway, quite considerably. But bam, you start one KickStarter campaign and it's like riding a bicycle with a nail sticking out of the seat.

So anyway, here we are. Last seven days for the KickStarter campaign. I am really, really excited and grateful that anyone at all pledged any amount at all. I am genuinely humbled-- not just paying lip service to the notion-- that I hit my goal, and did so fast. And now I am beating back the self-chastising voice in my head telling me not to be an ass and ask for more.

I am asking you-- will you please consider pledging $17 if you can spare it? This will get you a copy of the book. I am, as we speak, doing the final edits. Then I am shipping to the printer. My dream is to have copies by December 5th or, barring that, December 12th, when I will be giving a reading, along with my great friend Sandy, at BookPeople.

I am also asking if you will please pass this request on to others. I currently have 66 backers. I'd love to get that number to a nice, round 100.

And that, people, is all I got for you today. Here is a link to my KickStarter page, if you decide you want to kick in.

Thank you so much.

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