As most of you know, the plan for my book Fault Line was always to donate 50% of the proceeds from it back to the Voices & Faces Project survivor testimonial writing workshop. Last year, my advance helped to fund a Chicago workshop. But this project and this work means so much to me, I wanted to do more. So two friends and I came up with the idea of doing a crowd funding campaign (via IndieGoGo) to sponsor a rape survivor workshop in New York City.
Okay, it's one thing to donate your money to something you believe in, but it is TOTALLY different to ask people you care about for money. I mean TOTALLY different. It's awkward and makes me itch a little bit. I imagine it makes the person I ask it from itch a little bit too. What if they can't do it right now? What if they already have a cause they support and don't want to split themselves in two? What if they just don't have extra cash on hand? What if they're tired of hearing about rape victims from me? What if they are just overall experiencing compassion fatigue?
Here's the positive: as of day 5 of the campaign, we've raised $1100. This is amazing. I mean SO amazing that I cry every time I see that number. And I cry at every email about new donations (because that $1100 came from the hearts of many, many people). There's been so much online support and love and RTing this campaign on Twitter, and mentioning it on FB and Tumblr. You have NO idea what it means that so many of you are spreading the word about this.
Here's the hard stuff: we have a ways to go. And I don't know rich people. We're writers, most of our spare money is spent on books or conferences. And I'm grateful that we have 40 days left of this campaign, and I'm grateful that I have two friends doing it with me so I don't have to raise this huge number by myself. But...$13,900 in 40 days, and it still makes me itchy to ask for money.
I talked to a friend about how hard it was and she said that maybe I needed to remember what I loved about the workshop and talk about that. And maybe then instead of stressing about the awkwardness of asking so much, I could be in a place where I could put 100% of my energy into just appreciating how much love people have shown for this project.
So here's what I loved about the workshop:
It was two days of reading and writing with a very eclectic tribe of people who all came from different places and who all had one commonality: they were survivors of violence. And in those two days, I learned more about the strength of the human spirit and the bottomless well of compassion than I ever had in my life. I walked out of the door at the end of the workshop knowing that something had changed in me, something had changed in all of us. And it wasn't just that we knew we weren't alone, it was more that I knew this was the way to start slowly building an army to take on the seemingly insurmountable task of dismantling rape culture. Being in that room with these incredibly strong people who had not only survived violence but had committed to doing everything they could to stop its perpetuation was like seeing the start of a revolution.
And if you'd like to spread the word about this campaign or if you'd like to help fund it, you can do so here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-stories-we-tell
I'm so incredibly grateful to each and every one of you. Thank you for listening, reading, caring.