First of all, let me clear things up: I'm not talking about Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or any of the plethora of crowdfunding places out there. Those are being abused, but I'm cool with them because they're about asking for money in exchange for something they'll produce. In a way, those people are working, or at least they promise you they'll work hard to give you something for your money. What I'm talking about here are folks who ask for money because they want you to fund their dreams or pay them to be struggling artists. Here's my reply to them: fuck you. Yeah, grow up and get a damn job. I'd love to sit at home and put words together all day, but I have bills to pay, so I have two jobs. Hell, any artist in any medium would love to make a living doing what they love, but things are tough and getting to live the dream is a rare feat, so stop bitching and flip some burgers, make coffee, teach a class, walk a few dogs, paint houses, sell insurance, process mail at home, whatever. Hell, if you want quick, easy money, drive to a truck stop and give truckers some hand love for ten bucks a pop. Any of those gigs is more respectable that asking for money. You have a house, a phone, food, a computer with internet connection...and you're asking me for moolah? You know who does that? The fucking church, and now I respect you as much as I respect them.
Oops, that was a bit of rant. Allow me to take a few breaths and continue with a slightly less abrasive discourse.
Okay. As I was saying, nowadays it's acceptable to go online and use social networking sites to ask for a handout. Since I'm a writer, most of the panhandlers I see are fellow writers/editors/publishers/whatever. You get the point: this is not directed at only them, but they're the ones I see more often. Usually they opted to do their thing full time and something went wrong. They come up with sad stories about how they got a divorce, lost their money to some random occurrence, were screwed by a dishonest publisher, never received their royalty checks, found out the writing life isn't as easy as Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel makes it look, blah blah blah. Despite their bad luck, their health is intact, but they'd rather get on online and beg for money than get a job like the rest of us bus-riding commoners. Again, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, take a hike, you slothful leech.
Listen, I'd say I'm dirt poor, but dirt is at least rich in minerals. I moved to Austin about five years ago with $230 to my name and no job. I stole toilet paper from the university and ate noodles like any other poor student. Lack of money kept me up at night. I also had to deal with idiots whose English was nowhere near mine asking me if i had a green card during job interviews. Finally, I got a job as a teaching assistant and complimented that by writing articles at 10-15 bucks a pop. I slept better. Then things got way worse, then they got better and I could afford hot sauce, then they got worse and I ended the summer of 2011 with less than three dollars in my account. Despite the ups and downs, one thing I've never done is ask for a handout because I'm lucky enough not to have cancer or be in a wheelchair, and if folks are willing to give their money away, they should give it to people who really need it for things like food, medicine, hospital bills, and shelter, not some idiot trying to achieve artistic glory.
Here's a very commonplace narrative about publishing: I wrote a novel and spent two years looking for an agent. I got one. Nothing happened and I kept on being poor...and working. I wrote Gutmouth and it got published. It did nothing for my bank account and I kept my day job. I landed more freelancing gigs and kept working as a TA while I wrote and reviewed and did other things I enjoy. Now I'm slowly working on some stuff, and if it gets published, I'll celebrate like a motherfucker, plug it like crazy, and then go to work. See? It's not that hard: a job, or two, is the way you pay for your choices.
If I had to choose between an asshole that puts a link to his book on your wall or one who asks for dough, I'll pick the former. At least that asshole is giving you something in return. Wanna ask for money? Here's the right way to do it: "Hello, my finances are as messed up as they've always been, so I would really appreciate it if you bought my book. You'll have fun reading it and I'll be able to buy cereal. Plus, you can have a year of my life for the price of a cup of coffee. Please click HERE. Thank you!" Yeah, it's that easy. Oh, and 99% of the folks you send that to will ignore your ass. Be ready for that. Sorry if no one told you, but that's part of the hustle.
As long as there are kids starving somewhere in the world, idle asses who stay home working on their "craft" and expect the rest of us to pay for it will piss me off. Anyway, I'm done with this. Surely someone will take this as a personal attack and then they'll insult/curse/correct me. Great for them. I'd love to engage, but I have to go to work and then get some writing done. Happy hustle.