Well, in a month when a report by the New Zealand Society of Authors shows just how poor the lot of NZ writers is, it is refreshing to see someone take matters into her own hands. My friend Bianca Zander has come up with the genius plan of asking people to sponsor her novel writing. And it's working. She has so far raised more than $3000, which is well on the way to her goal of $8000, with which she plans to write for six months. Hardly the lap of luxury.
I applaud her initiative. Rather than sitting about moaning, she has come up with a scheme. I also applaud her cheek. Some people might be indignant that someone would ask them to fund their "hobby". But stop for a moment to consider the long tradition of arts patronage in western society. Pick up any programme at the opera or the ballet and you'll find a long list of 'friends' at the back who are people with a bit of spare money who love the arts and want to show their support. This is arts patronage of the 21st century ladies and gents.
Which is what could have been a very interesting discussion when Bianca was interviewed on National Radio recently. I didn't expect the interviewer to bow down and blindly pimp the website, but she forsook an interesting discussion on arts patronage and initiatives for artists and instead came over rather prickly and asked Bianca if she didn't think that having a long list of acknowlegements might hinder her chances of publication. When Bianca said she didn't think so, no, and that if it was a good book then that should take care of things, the interviewer asked her if she'd spoken to any publishers about it (in a rather 'oh, you're so naive' kind of way).
For the record, you can fit about 300 words onto a printed page, so even if Bianca gathered 300 sponsors, it would still only fill two pages (using first and surnames, in an admittedly dense block of text). I have seen authors' notes and acknowledgements run to eight pages in a novel.
Anyway, she implied that Bianca should get a job and struggle a bit, like everyone else, thereby missing the point that she was actually doing something different and that was why she'd been invited on the programme to begin with.
If you'd like to sponsor Bianca, go to www.sponsormynovel.co.nz or click on the title to this post. I'm happy to support a fellow artist.