A glass heron is a creature native to Hopeless Maine. Like most of the resident life forms, they’re a bit… odd.
There’s a glass heron front right in the image above and a second at the back and to the left.
Some time ago, in a fit of enthusiasm, I added a glass heron level over at Patreon. All of my Patreon levels are based on Hopeless Maine creatures, so at $1 there’s small things in bottles, and $5 is the splendid Dustcat level. They are about the size of a cat. I’m writing the dustcats a book about dustcats. I’m not the best when it comes to self promotion, so I put up the glass heron (size of a heron, give or take) and didn’t really spend much time telling people it was there. At glass heron level, you get things in the post – at least four times a year. Tom and I between us generate a lot of small things that can be posted, like cards, and dustcat books, little originals, handwritten things.
This week I was very excited to find that my first glass heron had sauntered in. There is a lot of validation for me in people liking what I do enough that they want to throw money at me. Not least because I appreciate that most of us don’t have a lot of spare cash to chuck about, so the decision to support creativity is a big deal.
Money is, simply, a great enabler. I’m living within my means, which are small. Extra cash means being able to afford research books, the odd course, getting to things that inspire me. Doing events as a creator costs money and you don’t always make it back – I’ve lost money on two events in the last year. Doing a print run for something like a dustcat book costs money. It’s a lot less stressful doing this sort of thing when you aren’t also obliged to carefully count the pennies. I’ve got very talented friends who should be getting their work out there and can’t afford to invest in it. I want to be able to help them with printing costs.
I like the gift economy angle with Patreon. I put free things into the world – here, on www.hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com, on my youtube channel, my Sage Woman blog column. I write regularly for Pagan Dawn and for the PF international. No one pays me for these things because there’s no money with which to pay. Pagan magazine publishing does not make anyone rich. I know what it’s like to have no budget for fun stuff, and what a difference free, online content makes in that scenario. Now that I can afford to, I do buy books and music, and tickets for gigs, I support the creative economy as best I can. In turn, people who like what I do and who can afford to support me are doing so, and it really helps me make ends meet and feel like it’s worth carrying on.
Money of course is not the only thing to have that effect. Likes, shares, reblogs, comments, sharing my stuff on social media – these things cost nothing and they have a massive impact on me from one day to the next. At my lowest points when I’ve not known how to keep going in the desperately difficult economic environment of ‘creative industry’ it’s been this blog, the support here and the comments that have kept me moving and saved me from despair. That’s gift economy in action, too.
So, here’s a question. I’ve been wondering about putting a donate button of some sort on the blog. I appreciate that the commitment to regular Patreon funding is going to be too much for many people. A donate button is more like being able to throw small change in the pot when you have it. Would that be a thing? If you think you might like to chuck a dollar in a virtual hat now and then, can you let me know? No commitment required, just I want a sense of how people feel about this. If everyone following this blog chucked a dollar in the hat once a year, it would change my life radically. I’m also at the kind of level where small sums of money make a difference. I’ve resisted the idea of a donate button for a long time because I want people to feel comfortable about having things for free. I choose to give this stuff away, and I hate it when people tell me things are free and then demand a five pound donation… so I’m not doing that. Thoughts?