I’ve been working hard here, on physical therapy for my feet and knees and on my upcoming book, Blessings for the Long Night: Meditations and Poems to Help You through Depression. I’ve also been slowly easing back into the world after having both Pfizer vaccines in April. It feels joyful, but…complicated? I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you why. That’s the thing about a pandemic, pan, from the Greek πᾶν, pan, meaning “all”, “of everything”, or “involving all members” of a group — we’ve all been in this together.
My big news today is that I’ve started a Patreon account! You can check it out here. The rewards include monthly essays, early access to news about my books and projects, personalized “peace” poems, personalized “you are not alone” cards, and signed copies of my books.
Last week I had a “soft open” for my Patreon, and nine of you signed up, made me cry, and gave me courage. The reason I did a “soft open” — just sort of casually opening the doors, nonchalantly mentioning that I have a Patreon now, is because I was still feeling uncertain that I wanted to do this at all, and yet I had this feeling that, as Glennon Doyle says, it was the next right thing.
There were three reasons never wanted to start a Patreon before. One, I have nannying, my “day job” that makes a really good compliment to the writing work. I can’t work full time as a nanny because of my chronic migraines, but it pays decently and I have been working ~25-30 hours at it for the last decade. But my foot pain (plantar fasciitis) has been getting worse and worse, so when this last nanny job ended in September, I took some time off to have foot surgery. This coincided with signing another book deal with Broadleaf Books, as well as self-publishing 365 Days of Peace, so I have had income while I recover from the surgery. Unfortunately, I also developed a knee injury right when I took time off for the foot surgery, so recovery has been a lot slower than I’d hoped, and the book money is going to run out soon.
The second reason I didn’t want to do a Patreon is short and bittersweet: Asking people for money brings up hard memories of failing at my ministry job thirteen years ago after I’d spent a year fundraising for it. My friends were so generous then, and it was so difficult to tell them that their investment in me hadn’t paid off. But my closest friends, even those who had been supporting me financially, told me that they could tell it had never been a good fit for me. It wasn’t my real calling. Writing is.
And the third reason is that a really core value for me is creating inclusive community, and Patreon, in hiding things behind a paywall and offering rewards for higher donations feels like it excludes people who don’t have a lot of money. This is the main thing that I’ve been sitting with this past week. I don’t want to create a community where some are excluded. I don’t want people to feel like they’re not in my core group. On the other hand, I have been producing a LOT of content for free over the past few years, from essays on my blog and Instagram, to the daily peace poems, to pieces for online magazines that don’t pay at all or much, to virtual holiday stick-figure gatherings. I’ve been spending a ton of time and energy on those things, and I do believe that artists should be paid for their work, just as with any other profession. And I know there are folks who want to support the arts in general and maybe me specifically. The nine folks who signed up from my “soft open” showed me this.
So I am going ahead with the Patreon, with the goal and intention of creating opportunities for people who appreciate my work and are in a position to support me. The tiers start at $5/month, and I’ve set up some rewards that I think are compelling, with the core benefit of all tiers being a monthly short essay from me. I think it will be a good opportunity for me to share some things that are on my mind, and even workshop some chapters from upcoming books in a slightly more private setting than social media. But I will continue to be present in places where my work is accessible for free, like social media and the blog on my website. And I will still be working in those places, as well as in my books and my writing for the Madeleine L’Engle blog, Our Bible App, and elsewhere, to create community where everyone feels seen and included.
Speaking of the Madeleine L’Engle blog and Our Bible App, I have new pieces up there since my last newsletter. In Another Irrational Season on the L’Engle blog I used Madeleine’s poem about the irrationality of the incarnation to explore ideas of rhythm and rationality in the unprecedented season of a pandemic. And for Our Bible App I wrote about the needs that we are trying to meet through prayer, and how different types of prayers can nourish those needs.
I have some book reviews to write, so I will try to pop back here in June with those. And I should be able to share the cover design from my new book soon, too!
Thanks for reading, everyone, and for checking out my Patreon!
In love and hope,