Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordcraft -- Resolution 4: Pay it forward

’Tis the season for giving -- and, maybe, tax deductions. And, like making resolutions, giving doesn’t have to be painful. Some of my favorite sites are asking for funds now, and when many join together, a little can become a lot.

Duotrope’s Digest,, states that if each of its current users and subscribers contributed $6.01 for the year, it would meet its goal to keep the site free.

Duotrope is my go-to place to find publishers for my fiction. It’s a favorite of many other writers as well. Even the occasional cranky ones who gripe about the overabundance of statistics. Or the fallibility of self-reported statistics. But I can live with the knowledge that five writers got acceptances to a collection I’m aiming for without reporting their information to Duotrope. It may sound like I work for Duotrope, but I don’t. I only subscribe and use.

A few years ago I would have been embarrassed to admit to another of my now-favorite sites -- Wikipedia. Now, like the print encyclopedias I used to buy, it’s a first stop for research. Often pedestrian and seldom the last stop, but always useful. And it’s looking for funding, too.

You’ve probably seen the appeals from article writers and even Ward Cunningham, who invented the wiki as a website whose users can easily modify it. I clicked on one of the links and used my PayPal account to make a donation. (Other forms of payment are accepted.)

Another of my favorite sites is Wikimedia, , filled with non-copyrighted “clip art” to use when I don’t have a photograph of my own for a blog
post. Wikimedia shelters under the same umbrella as Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation. This is a nonprofit organization whose donations may be deductible as charitable contributions in the United States.

(Duotrope is not established as a nonprofit and contributions to it are only deductible as possible business expenses. But in either case, contact your tax adviser or the U.S. Internal Revenue Service,

Finally, in keeping with my favorite price for anything -- free -- there are ways to give back to our writing community that only cost a few minutes of time. One suggestion from a former mentor, Susannah Charleson (author of the book on search and rescue dogs, Scent of the Missing), is to write a review on Amazon,, for writers who have inspired us. Or if you belong to a professional site such as LinkedIn, offer to write a recommendation for someone -- writer, teacher, editor -- whose work you admire. And show up for free readings and discussions in your community.

Happy New Year and keep writing!

(Next Wednesday -- Writing conferences in 2012)

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