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A Rough Month and a Fundraising Campaign

by: Jill Richardson

Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 22:13:19 PM PST

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Jay wrote me to ask where I've been, so I figured I'd give everyone an explanation. I have been thinking about writing a blog post on this anyway, so I guess I will.

Where've I been? I've been broke and trying to make money, that's where I've been. I've set up a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo because - as you'll understand once you read on - there's pretty much no way I can finish my book without help.

I rely nearly entirely on freelance writing for my income, and publications differ in their speediness in publishing articles and paying their writers. Every month, my job is to balance the amount of work I do with the number of paychecks that arrive. This month, that just collapsed.

One publication's behind on its payments, another one pays monthly and they'll pay for my January work in February, and another had a question about my check so they put my invoice in a queue of items to follow-up on for a few weeks until I asked them about it. Yet another piece I wrote was for an editor who got seriously ill and spent more than a month out of work as a result. She's still catching up on her work, and she hasn't had time to edit and publish my piece yet - or pay me for it.

That left me broke and scrambling. At one point, a week or so ago, I had $20 in my bank account and nothing in my wallet. Thank god I know how to recognize edible weeds and all of my friends know how to grow food. I helped myself to edible weeds in my ex's yard, and a very kind friend gave me a little of everything she had growing in her garden. I wish she grew rent and gas, but sadly all she had was chard, apples, carrots, eggs, and some really fantastic citrus. I have such great friends!

Growing, foraging, and cooking food is SUCH an amazing survival skill. I've been reflecting on that all week. When I ran out of cash, I wasn't entirely out of food. I was just out of several foods and food groups. No yogurt, no oats, no veggies, no fruit, no nuts or nut butters. If it weren't for my friends, I would've had nothing but grains and beans to eat.

A few checks have arrived, and I'm OK for now. Sort of. If I pay my February rent and other January bills, I can't afford my car registration. So that will wait and let's hope I don't get pulled over. And as soon as the February bills come in, the crisis begins anew. So I've been working my tail off, writing articles for publications that pay their writers quickly and looking for more stories to pitch. Needless to say, I haven't been doing much blogging.

In the meantime, I'm supposed to be writing a book. My book publication date has been pushed back, and I'm re-writing an awful lot of it to make it shorter, more focused, and better organized. It'll be a better book in the end, and I'm excited about it. But I've got no time to write if I'm spending all of my time trying to get paid.

Throughout the time I've worked on this book, my editor's suggested setting up a fundraising campaign many times and I've resisted. In theory, I should be able to earn enough money to make this work. I kept pushing myself. If I could just work harder, break into writing for more publications, write for publications that paid me more per article... I should be able to make enough money. I shouldn't have to ask anyone for help.

But clearly, that's not the case. So I've finally set up a page on Indiegogo, here to see if I could raise the money needed to finish the book. This will give me enough money to finish writing the book instead of doing paying work for a few months and it will also pay off some of the debt I've incurred for the research travel required for the book. Once the book's done, I'll receive a bit more of my advance and that should cover most of the rest of my research travel debt. I don't expect to make money on this book, but I also can't afford to have more weeks like this one because of it.

Jill Richardson :: A Rough Month and a Fundraising Campaign
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Friends rock! (4.00 / 2)
Great to hear you have some good ones.

Your work is valued by many, and here's hoping you can raise enough to get through this lean spot and keep it up!

(And if you don't, I'm gonna set up a $5 Dunk Jay Tank at Dorney Park.  Hell yes I am!)

thanks Jay (4.00 / 2)
I've been trying to diversify my income a bit by teaching gardening and chicken workshops locally. It's cool bc I can set a low price per person but if a few people come I make a decent amt.

Part of the latest crisis is that I've been trying to switch who I write for from places that pay a little bit but pay quickly to places that pay more but not so immediately. I mean, I JUST landed a short piece in Organic Gardening and it will be printed in 2014. Due date for me is this March. Meanwhile, I turned in a feature story for Chickens back in October and that will be printed in March. I don't know when I'll get paid for either of those but I think a good guess is "Not before the magazine comes out."

Anyway, I try to do the math so that each month enough money will come in to make ends meet. But this month it just failed. Who would have guessed that the perfect storm would happen and 3 or 4 different publications ALL wouldn't pay me at the same time!

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
Hang in there Jill (4.00 / 3)
You got grit and you'll make it.

I was in the same situation last winter. That was the worse winter in my life. No crops to sell, bills to pay, animals to feed and no money for any of it. Chaz and I ate all of the chickens and the two turkeys, one of the goats died of a bad lung and I cooked her up and fed her to Chaz (she was too strong for me to eat), I ate everything in the pantry including canned meat that Harold had put up 10 years ago and thank God for that. And I ate a lot of 'weeds' in the garden. That's one reason why I won't kill anything that's edible out here, I don't care if people do say they're 'weeds'. I learned why people who came through the depression are the way they are so often. Flippin' Frugal!

And you're right about cooking being a tremendous survival skill, as is foraging.

You're at least as tough as I am. If I could make it, you can too. Just wish I had more money to send you.

And by the way, those bath bags are a hit!

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
Thanks Joanne (4.00 / 1)
And I wish you had more money but not because I want you to send it to me. You've already helped more than you know. And if the bath bags are a hit maybe there will be demand for more of them.

As for the bath bags, I made a funny discovery about wildcrafting herbs. I found a few eucalyptus trees in a spot where they seem pretty invasive and they aren't in a polluted spot near a busy road, so I helped myself. Turns out some damn bug laid eggs all over the leaves. So after I got them home and discovered the eggs, I had to pick them all off and/or remove the leaves with the problems. I also opted not to take home a leaf with bird poop on it. Think I'll wash the leaves too.

The thing is though, often wild plants are more medicinally potent than cultivated ones because they have more secondary metabolites (i.e. compounds used for direct and indirect defense and other things that aren't just growing big, pretty foliage) since they aren't fertilized and they deal with more natural competition and bugs and such.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
I really wish I was (4.00 / 1)

in the position to help out. I'm going through my own rough time. Was laid off and there just no jobs in this area until spring and my other half is away and having an issue with getting paid. This month my parents have had to save my butt which has been quite a humbling experience. I've also started back into some schooling which hopefully will lead to more job opportunity.   I may be able to send a bit in a months time if contract money comes through.
I have shared your campaign with my social networks so hopefully that will help some.  

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