Friday, November 30, 2007

NaNo Blogging: Paying It Backwards

November draws to a close. The flurry of creativity has turned into a mad scramble to get to the word validator in time. I'm, of course, sitting pretty in purple having taken care of that several days ago. But it also means that it's time for another NaNo tradition: begging for cash.

National Novel Writing Month, after all, is run by a non-profit. It takes donations to keep it well funded. And that means, like public radio or PBS, the pledge drive is on and e-mails and letters and posts fly asking anyone who can to spare a bit of their money in order to keep the project solvent. Now, this is annoying and, frankly off-putting but it works. The staffers send out the call to arms and enough people respond to make it worth their while. It takes begging, shouting, cajoling, and everything else possible to convince that small percent of people who'll actually donate to part with their money. And, second, it really is for a good cause. The money goes not just to keeping the website up but to helping teachers and (In the past, at least) libraries and more.

But, the sad truth is that some people just don't have the money to spare. This is especially true in my home region. We're currently #49 in the international word war. I'm pleased to report that my own herculean efforts are a mere single digit percentage of the overall total (My other selected home region, Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan clocks in respectably in the top 100 thanks to impressive per writer word count average.). But the depressed and depressing economic conditions of my home state of Michigan mean that we're well behind par when it comes to the money race. Donating less than a thousand dollars overall. When the paper is full of talk of layoffs and foreclosures and the unemployment rate is well above the national average, it's hard to fault us for that is it? But that doesn't mean we can't contribute.

Because, in fact, even if you don't send a drop of money the NaNo way you can still help them out. Firstly, there are a number of sites who'll donate some of the proceeds of any sale to the Office of Letters and Light. But, more importantly, there are also a number of ways to contribute money to the cause without spending any of your own.

I'll flag out GoodSearch as a particularly effective option. I've been using it since Script Frenzy myself and I don't have any complaints. Every time you perform a web search through that engine a small amount is given to NaNo. It's not much but think about how many searches you make in a day, a month, a year. Because it all adds up. Since June of this year, for example, people have raised over $700 for NaNo through their searches. There was a huge spike once NaNo kicked off in October but that works out to a few thousand a year. The more people, the more searches, the better. And since it's something that I'd do anyways, it makes sense to me.

But, whatever the way, if you've enjoyed the month, if you want to see it continue, try and make sure that you find some way. Even if it's only spreading the word.

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