Like anybody else, I have bills to pay.
I have a mortgage and a kid in college and the cat needs to eat.
As Stonekettle Station has increased in popularity, it takes up more and more of my time to do proper research and analysis, write the content you come here for, and manage the site, commenting, and the associated social media feeds.
And when I’m doing that, I’m not writing novels or short stories or paying copy.
That said, as a number of folks have noted, I’ve been a little light on posting here lately. This is for several reasons mostly having to do with travel and real world issues. I’ve got a number of things going on my life at present which require a significant amount of my time. It’s nothing horrible, don’t panic and please don’t write to ask. I appreciate your concern, but not everything I do is public domain. It’s simply that a number of things happened all at once which require my attention in priority over writing this blog, the mundane details of which don’t need to be shared publicly – though they will likely become fodder for future articles and projects. That’s the best part about being a writer, everything is grist for the mill (too bad it’s not likewise tax deductible). The situation should be resolved shortly and I’ll be back to publishing at least one in-depth essay each week along with some shorter pieces.
Now, based on my business model, every once in a while I need to run a donation drive.
I don’t like this.
I don’t like asking for money.
Ideally, I write an article and if you like it enough, you’ll kick in. And thankfully, you do so often enough that I can survive doing this. I’ll never get rich doing it, but it beats writing advertising jingles or flipping burgers. That is going to become even more important to me as my business model evolves. More on that later.
But as I said, every once in a while I have to run a donation campaign. I refuse to do it more than once a year. And it makes me very uncomfortable to say, hey, give me money and, you know, maybe I’ll write something you like later. Don’t get me wrong, you toss the coins and I’ll dance like a monkey in a shiny silver vest, sure, but I’ve been thinking about this and I’d like you to get more. So here’s what I’ve come up with:
As many of you know, I’m also an artist.
I turn trees into things, sometimes firewood but usually stuff more like this:
This is a beautiful piece of California redwood. When I acquired it, there were a number of naturally occurring cracks on one side caused by drying. Now, normally a turner (someone who works on a lathe) would cut the piece down to solid wood and throw the flawed part away. But redwood in this size is expensive and increasingly difficult to acquire and I really didn’t want to throw any of it away.
So the flaws became features.
The cracks were filled with resin and stabilized to hold the wood together while it was being worked on the lathe. Then after turning the bowl was hand carved with a variety of tools to highlight the natural features and give the piece character. It’s 12” in diameter and finished with walnut oil and soft wood wax which gives it a deep luster and complex finish. It’s food safe, suitable for nuts or hard candies, but it is probably better suited as an art piece for display.
It is signed via laser-etch on the bottom:
Typically my artwork sells so fast I can’t keep up with it (how terrible right? Every artist should have such problems). This piece is different. I’ve had this piece available for sale for a while now on my Etsy store, but it hasn’t sold because it’s simply too expensive.
So here’s what I’m going to do:
- Donations of $50 or more:
Anybody who donates $50 or more during the month of September 2015 will be put in the running to win this piece.
- Donations of less than $50:
Anybody who donates between $1 and $49 during the month of September will be eligible to win a handmade customized laser-engraved pen in the same style I recently made for a number of famous writers at the World Science Fiction Convention (Sasquan) in Spokane, Washington. I will randomly select TWO winners in this category. Winners will be able to specify what they want engraved on the pen within certain limitations (you can only fit so much on a pen barrel folks).
Additionally, the three winners will each (if they so desire) suggest a topic for an in-depth essay on current events and I will write it for publication here on Stonekettle Station.
Winners will be selected October 1st.
To donate, click on the “Donation” button on the upper right side of this screen and follow the directions.
Note: Those of you who already donate via an automatic monthly payment, you’ll be entered automatically in the drawing.
Addendum: To be clear, this is not a lottery or a raffle. Donations are voluntary subscription fees specifically in support of this blog, i.e. you’re paying for content not a chance to win something. I am not claiming any tax-exempt status or charity. Donations are considered business income and I pay all applicable state and federal taxes on that income and I have the records to prove it.
The bowl, the pens, those are my artwork, created and paid for by me. As such I chose to randomly give them away to supporters, just as I gave away pens to writers and supporters at Worldcon last month. I’m simply using this month’s subscriptions as the pool to select from since I have no other way to determine who readers are.
You are not paying for a chance to win a prize, you’re paying for the content of this blog and my associated social media feeds. // Jim
Ed RIker here, $50 donated.ReplyDelete
I'd be happy to donate (and will after my next paycheck), but I'd also be happy to purchase a pen in addition to a donation. Them pens is purty!ReplyDelete
Love the pens I bought.. what, a couple of years ago at least.ReplyDelete
I will get in on this the last week of September. (writing myself a note to remember... old brainz).
I pretend to be able to turn wood into things people like. You are far beyond my humble talents. I salute you.ReplyDelete
I donated, not because of the chance to win some of your fine work, but because of the mind expanding emotional roller coaster your words take me on.
And I have to admit that putting in 84 hours last week helped too. I'm usually a 36 hour a week person. I have a little extra to spend this week. That's not always the case.
I am unemployed, so unable to donate. Your woodwork is beautiful. As a knitter, my first thought for the bowl was "Yarn bowl!"ReplyDelete
I do make yarn bowls. They tend to be expensive due to the amount of work that goes into each one. Part of the money I receive from donations is used to buy upgraded equipment, which in turn allows me to reduce costs and sell the bowls for less - and to make more of them.Delete
That said, I would hate for anybody to donate who can't afford it, nobody should ever have to make that choice. I hope that you find something soon and thanks for your kind words. // Jim
Jim, my wife is a Knitter, and I'd be interested in a yarn bowl.Delete
Russ; I can enthusiastically recommend the knitting bowl - my partner cried when she got hers, it is so damn fine! Be sure not to pluck it from where it rests by the ShopKat, however. Even though they're made from sturdy stuff, they aren't titanium. Don't ask me how I know that.Delete
I've improved the ShopKat yarn-keepers. They are now laminates that are much, much stronger than the original yarn bowls. Still, I wouldn't recommend carrying the bowl about by them.Delete
Jim, my wife looked at pics of your yarn bowl and we're interested if you feel inspired to make another. We're geeks, we love cats and she's a Yarn Dedicant. LMK if that works for you and how you'd like to be in touch.Delete
Jim, I value your insights and look forward to every Stonekettle essay. Thanks for the kick in the pants. I've been meaning to donate.ReplyDelete
Is this a one-shot donation only? By that I mean, if I made separate donations of $50 each week in September (Don't get your hopes up too high--this is an example! Heh.), would I have 4 shots at the drawing? Or just one?ReplyDelete
Planning. Plotting. Lusting after that gorgeous bowl.
Each donation will be considered a separate entry and chance to win. Donate as many times as you like. No limit. ;)Delete
Eeeeeeee!!! Cool. I will do that. I feel kinda bad that I hadn't gotten around to it until now; having been meaning and meaning to, but I just detest wrestling with Paypal, which tries to act like that's the *only* payment method (when I know perfectly well it's not). So I've got some lost time--and donations--to make up here. Wheee!Delete
Clyde Lee Graham from Facebook... a pen engraved with "This machine kills fascists" is mighty tempting.ReplyDelete
I will gladly donate. Your work keeps me laughing and interested in current events.ReplyDelete
And as much as I want a bowl or pen, I'm thinking having my hubby come up with a topic for you to write on would be most interesting. :D
Janice Alden. Just donated for the first time. I really like the "chance to win" spin. Helped motivate me to do what I had been intending to do for awhile.ReplyDelete
Gladly done. And appreciate the time and effort you put into keeping we minions thinking (and entertained).ReplyDelete
Donation sent. Keep up the good work!ReplyDelete
Donated! I've been in love with that bowl since it was first posted, and I have to support the sane there are so few online. :)ReplyDelete
I hope you don't mind, but I was planning to buy some of your gorgeous earrings for holiday presents (I was poking around your store a while ago). And it was pretty cool seeing you on the Hugos streaming telecast!ReplyDelete
I am on the monthly subscription plan. Cut back on the news paper, stopped the crappy magazines and now I read you without guilt :) Beautiful work. The bowl is pretty too! Deb B.ReplyDelete
Gorgeous bowl, and the raffle to win is a great idea, but I keep sharing your gun posts, mainly the one on using NRA's own rules as the basis for laws, hoping that they will go viral, so for that alone, I donated.ReplyDelete
Sadly, I doubt most people have the attention span to read past the third or fourth paragraph...but I keep trying!
I am sorry to admit that I am financially embarrassed right now or I would love to contribute. I know you have probably already considered it but was wondering if you had considered setting up a Patreon site to make the process more automatic.ReplyDelete
I know of many artists who have Youtube and or streaming accounts who seem to have some success with them as an income stream.
While I hate waiting for your posts I have always figured that craftsmanship takes time and is worth the wait.
I am embarrassed to have to run a fund drive in the first place. Never feel the need to apologize for not donating, for whatever reason. I'm horribly uncomfortable with the idea that anybody should feel guilted into donating. If you can and you want to, I appreciate it. If you don't or can't, that's just fine too.Delete
I've thought about Patreon, I've looked at the site, I'm not sure it's for me at this time.
I don't think that you should be embarrassed. You write for a living, you should be paid for your craft, be it wood or words, whenever you can. It looks like most of us are happy to donate and just needed to be made aware.Delete
I cried. I wish I could donate regularly, but my income is super limited and doesn't give me that luxury. But I still kicked in anyway.ReplyDelete
I sincerely appreciate it, but I absolutely hate the idea of anybody being guilted into donating. Please don't chose between the things you need and donating to Stonekettle Station. I appreciate you coming by and hope that what I do here brightens your day in some small way. Thank you again // JimDelete
I'm not feeling guilted at all. While I can't afford regular donations, the occasional one is still manageable without causing hardship or impacting the needful. :)Delete
I am, alas, unemployed at the moment or I would donate. However, I just visited your etsy store and was intrigued by the paw print keyring fobs/zipper pulls. Have you considered dog/cat collar tags, perhaps customizable with pet names? Christmas is coming and I will have some budget for gifts, thankfully. My siblings' extremely spoiled and adored dog would wear one proudly. Said dog likes nice things and knows when she's dressed up. :)ReplyDelete
Just a thought. In the meantime, please keep doing what you do and take your time. All art, be it wood or words, is best crafted in it's own time.
Waitaminnit! Am I the only one who read the words "writing advertising jingles" and thought, "God, I wish he WOULD!"?ReplyDelete
Quick, what rhymes with Cthulhu?
One day, our Dread lord CthulhuDelete
Switched his TV viewing over to Hulu
He'd been watching Fox lies
"These fucking people," he cries
And switches to a Band-Aid-garbed Leelu
(I don't even know if Hulu has The Fifth Element right now)
I've been eyeing that bowl and was going to see if I could afford it once the Sasquan bills were paid off. Donated for a chance to win it.ReplyDelete
Enjoyed meeting you - thanks, again, for making a second trip into the Art Show for me.
I too make things from wood (not as often as I like). Mine have strings and are operated with a small piece of plastic and as many fingers and thumbs as can be made to dance cooperatively. I have one of your damn fine pens and my co-pilot has one of your damn fine knitting bowls. That pen is the one I use to write letters to my congresspeople, letters to family, and special occasions.
Your stuff is much better.
Please do NOT feel the need to be humble when it comes to reminding your minions that you have a mortgage, offspring and a cat, or need some laser fodder (wood, perhaps) or a nice glass of Scotch. Humility is a worthwhile trait, as I'm sure you know. There is a time and a place for that, but this isn't it; you have earned my respect both in spades and American dollars. You have enriched my experience; why shouldn't I return the favor? I appreciate being reminded when necessary.
This is a beast I will gladly, enthusiastically feed because I thoroughly enjoy your work; like a good pair of 8x50's, it helps me to figure out what's going on in the world.
Steel your flinty, black heart and don't be shy; we are here for you.
MR & KP
Have you thought about doing a Patreon feed? That way folks could offer money per article that you post there and you'd have a regular monthly income stream. Basically everyone who feels like it pays $1-5 or whatever and if lots and lots of people contribute a bit, then you can write more.ReplyDelete
Did someone buy the bowl???ReplyDelete
Why, WHY does this come up the week after I lose my job? I'm not sure what I've done in a previous life to have timing this crappy, but it must have been bad. Maybe I consistently got in the express 20-items-or-less line at the store with an entire buggy full of crap AND coupons?ReplyDelete
Well, at least now I have motivation. Find a job or finish a novel...either one, as soon as possible!
I did the British thing, and 'bought' you a pint (£3.30/$5), which is what Wonkette got. (Yes, I've been seeing other bloggers behind your back.ReplyDelete
As I put in the instructions to seller, I'm in England, so probably a bad move to put me into the draw, the P&P would outweigh the donation!
That bowl is fantastic - the mark of an artist, taking the blemish and making it the defining feature.
Put me in, BUT - If I win send the pen to one of those who have posted before the timing this reply saying they'd love to donate but are skint (English for broke).
That's what I was thinking.Delete
I'm going to see if we can pitch a bit in. I'm new here; I looked up your site after seeing you on a panel at Worldcon. We talked briefly after clearing the panel room (I'd be the chick with the purple hair), and I mistook you for the *other* J. Wright. (This was not my brightest moment; I'm blaming sleep deprivation and stress. I should have figured it out -- you were reasonable!) I figure I owe you a beer for that mistake alone! I won't be able to send much, but every little bit helps, right? :)ReplyDelete
Also, even though I won't be able to send enough to be in the running, I have to say that bowl is absolutely gorgeous and an absolute masterpiece. I have literally never seen anything like it. Whoever wins it is going to be one lucky duck. You talked pre-panel about woodworking, but I had no idea the quality of your work. I am seriously impressed (and I know a lot of carpenters so that should say something!).
Heh heh, you weren't the only one to make that mistake, Nonny. You were however the most polite about it and I enjoyed talking to you even if you thought I was that other guy.Delete
I appreciate, and I'm sorry to hear that others were not as polite. You seemed pressed for time, but I almost asked to take you up on sitting back in the bar and chatting -- even, as you said, thinking you were the other guy. :)Delete
As it turns out, I had a bit more leftover from my Worldcon vendor money than I thought, so I did have enough for the raffle. And, well, also because I've been poking around your site and you seem like an all-around good guy. Before you go "Bwuh?" I should mention my Dad is a retired Lt.Col., Army Infantry. That should probably explain enough. ;)
I signed up for a monthly subscription. I'm also interested in buying the pen, but I didn't see it in your store.ReplyDelete
Wow! I'd happily part with an arm or a leg to have that bowl. Gorgeous work. However, the reason I'm offering an arm or a leg is because I don't have $50 bucks, much as I'd love to support this blog with cold, hard cash. Every post clears my pipes and fires me up, so I'll keep reading, and donate when there's a bit left over after paying my daughter's grad school costs. Best of luck.ReplyDelete
Given the way my luck usually works with drawings, I'd rather just buy some stuff. I'd imagine pens have more than a couple fiddly little steps that make them time-consuming, but if you're willing to make them to-order, what would one run me?ReplyDelete
Thanks for the writings.ReplyDelete
Currently I'm paying myself back (my Soc Sec Payments haven't yet exceeded my contributions), but it's budgeted :)
But my own budget sees that I can skip a few cups of Dunkins coffee (Or do they maybe have Tim Horton's up there in the Great White North?"), and have put a bit into the kitty.
The bowl is lovely, but my donations can't run that far just yet.
Thank you for the writing.
Maye sometime I'll have a chance to make it past the post and join your commeteriat on FB and can reply to your writings *there*
P.S.: I'm glad to see that you and GRRM were able to give out the *real* awards at WorldCon (::snicker:: while ::eye-roll::)
Kicked in for the bowl as well. Admittedly, as I am a resident of Norway, the postage would be expensive, but I can cover that in case I win.ReplyDelete
Well, I had $7 left in the "entertainment or cigarettes" budget for the month. Glad I found a (really) good use for it beyond another goddamned pack of smokes. Hopefully that budget will grow soon to exclude cigarettes entirely, but for now, I'll put fantastic and profound thought-provoking reads as a better value than something that will actually kill me faster as I spend more money on it.ReplyDelete
Rambling aside, as another craftsman, how would I go about purchasing at least few of those pen barrels (without the other hardware, but probably with engraving since I don't have a CNC laser yet)? I'm real particular about my writing implements, but I'd love a few of those to refit with 0.5mm roller tips. I'll avoid gushing about it, but all of those examples are absolutely beautiful, and something I'd be proud to show off at work.
Consider one beer bought Jim. I'm not exactly flush with cash as a househusband, but I've added you to my list of folks who deserve a $5 a month subscription. As Harlan Ellison would say "Pay the F'n Writer!"ReplyDelete
Thank you for the reminder! I love your writing and am happy to support it, even with a modest donation.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Jim. I wish I could donate more, as I enjoy your writing so much. I know it takes a lot of time and energy to write. Thanks, as always, for writing that makes me use my brain. And for keeping it real. No, really.ReplyDelete
While lurking about the Station one fine September morn, I found myself sufficiently motivated and decided it was finally time to once again enter the lair of the PayPal dragon.ReplyDelete
Barely made it out alive this time, but valor shall always prevail.
Challenge accepted and fulfilled, Sir! I have been hanging on to your every word since 2008 as "fromthediagonal" and later on facebook under my own name. Your artistry with wood is as amazing as your wordsmithing. I appreciate your incisive analyses and inventive use of profanity when required; not to forget that your love of animals is wonderful to behold. Live Long and Prosper!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Inge Mooney
When viewing your blog on my Android phone using Chrome I had to go to the menu and check "Request desktop site" before I could see your PayPal link. Just thought I'd mention it in case others are having the same problem.
Just sent a small donation. Please keep ShopKat in liver treats.ReplyDelete
I'd been meaning to send a few pesos your way as a small token of my appreciation for your wordsmithing skills. My budget is limited (much like many others) but maybe someday I'll see the stars fall into the proper alignment to bring one of your marvelous yarn bowls my way!ReplyDelete
Apparently I can't donate from my phone, so, just for you, I'll get my @$$ out of bed & go get my laptop. I'm donating because I appreciate your work & the time, effort, skill, research & experience you put into it (it's my second time donating), but the chance to win a piece or art... that's a NICE detail.ReplyDelete
As far as hating and feeling guilty over asking for money, GET OVER IT. Why do you think every art organization in the country has a "development" person? In the words of a very wise (female) classical conductor I knew in my singing days, (I'm paraphrasing) there are people with money who get great delight from supporting worthwile endeavors like ours, who are we to deprive them of that?
I just doubled my monthly (admittedly small) donation.ReplyDelete
"You are not paying for a chance to win a prize, you’re paying for the content of this blog and my associated social media feeds. // Jim"ReplyDelete
No, I'm not paying for content. I'm paying for a grilled cheese sandwich. The content is worth much more than I can afford, but $5 will get you a sandwich that will bring comfort and joy when you need some.
Celebrating my birth-month, just had my 58th birthday, yipee! Instead of wanting any gifts (besides more birthdays) my modus operandi is to give gifts instead. So, I just sent you $58, one for each year of my life. It's not near enough, 'cause I immensely enjoy your writing, and the comments of your many loyal minions. I'd be honored to become one and possibly add to the conversations. Take your time, your minions more than adore you.ReplyDelete
Thank you, again, and God Bless ShopKat.
OK, made something of a cheapskate donation. Will cover some cat food, though. Kid in college will have to shift for himself.ReplyDelete