Saturday, November 17, 2012

49 Writers: Don Rearden: An Appeal, In Appeal, Unappealing

This post first appeared on the 49 Writer's Blog.

  An Appeal, In Appeal, Unappealing

I’m here at 49 Writers Headquarters lounging on a fine Italian leather couch and sipping an amazing mocha made by our incredible in-house barista, who also edits my novels, waxes my skis, and grades my students' essays for me.  Of course this Headquarters is completely fictional and exists only in my rather wild imagination, so it costs nothing more to our organization than a complete loss of credibility on my part for sharing such goofiness.
And yet here I am at said HQ, relaxing and trying to prepare myself for our annual 49 Writers Giving Campaign. The comfy seating arrangement and hot beverage helps, as does the nice neck massage I’m now receiving from the barista, who coincidentally has just finished another round of edits on a draft of my new novel and sent it off to her aunt, a senior editor at a major publishing house. 
Yes, life is good at HQ and none of this fictional world would happen without fine folks like yourself. You’ve helped build this place. Heck, you’ve even attended our real writer events and sat in on workshops with some of our amazing instructors. We couldn’t do it without our army of dedicated volunteers, without such support from the community of writers and readers, and without you. Yes, you. The real you, not the you I imagined sitting near our crackling woodstove, pecking away at your latest project.
You make all the difference, and that’s why the real you might be hearing from one of our board members in the next few weeks. We’ll be calling, emailing, or writing actual snail mail letters to solicit your financial support for the 49 Writers.  As a member of the board of directors for the organization, I’m learning all about how a small non-profit like ours stays in business. It takes thousands of volunteer hours, an incredible and incredibly hard-working director, and requires money.
As a member of the board of directors, one of our many tasks is to try to build a level of sustainability into the organization's budget. This requires us to make what is called an “appeal” for some level of giving to members, friends, family, companies, corporations, and Oprah.
Let me be honest, which I always am, even when I’m admitting to fantasies of a barista who grades my students essays for me --- this is the part of my duties as a board member that is most uncomfortable for me. Perhaps it’s something I need counseling for, or just another facet of my being from growing up in rural Alaska, where so many of the people I know would give me the parka off their back in a blizzard, whether I needed it or not. In short, asking for your continued financial support of 49 Writers does not “appeal” to me.  The use of “appeal” reminds me of my favorite Robert Frost poem “Out, Out” where the young boy’s arm has been lopped off by a buzz saw and he holds up his bloody stump “half in appeal.”
There is more to build on, and we are not the ones dead (yet, though you might consider putting 49 Writers in your will, just in case!), and so I must learn to suck it up and ask you not to give an arm and a leg, perhaps just a finger or two as I make my appeal.
Well that’s it. I’m back to reality. The mocha replaced by a cold cup of coffee, the barista replaced by my one-year-old son pulling on my pants leg; he’s ready to go sledding. 
As I close, and before you rush off to put a check in the mail or donate online here, I hope you’ll take note of the actual definition of appeal. You’ll see I’ve attempted to reach all levels of said definition in this appeal to you. I’ve been rather “earnest” and “arousing,” and made requests and referred to the higher court of Frost.
I’ve made an appeal to you, revealed how I am in appeal, and maybe I've been totally unappealing. I’ve done all that’s in my power here to be “attractive and interesting” as I entreat your support of 49Writers. I’ve done it all but ask a “higher authority” or “greater power” for help, but perhaps I’ll be asking my mother-in-law for a donation as well.   
Thank you for your continued support of 49 Writers!

Don Rearden is the president of the board of directors for 49 Writers and author of the novel The Raven's Gift which will finally be released in America on July 30th, 2013.  We can only hope the novel is wildly successful so that he clicks here, renews his membership, and substantially increases his yearly giving to 49 Writers.