One of the things that really amazed me when I first stumbled on weblit was that people were giving it away. People were giving their stories away, because they loved it and some of them were making a living off of it anyway. That stuck with me, and began to slowly erode my conditioned image of traditional publishing that I’d envisioned since I was eight.
There’s a saying where I live, “Giving is receiving.”
Sometimes I roll my eyes, but in my gut, up the length of my spine, I can feel it. There have existed, and still exist in one form or another, cultures that never had an economy as we know it. Gifting cultures, where you give without fear and no expectation of getting anything back, and yet know that it will all come back around to you anyway.
A couple of the most famous examples of a gifting culture are the Pacific Northwest Coast potlatch and the North American Plains Give Away. The world is rife with examples of traditional cultures, particularly so-called primitive peoples, that have little or no concept of ownership, and who give away things as soon as they get them. For many this was not a humanistic luxury, but a necessity of survival, cementing social bonds because it was the community that mattered, not the material goods.
I want to live in a gifting culture. I want to live in a culture where I give with no expectation of return. Now, I would love love love to be able to support myself as a storyteller through donations and crowdfunding. I don’t think gifting and making a living are mutually exclusive. If an audience likes what I bring to the table enough to donate, it’s fairly realistic for me because I have a very different (some would say lower) standard of living than the average industrialized citizen.
But that isn’t what this is about. This is about sharing the stories that have been overflowing me, spilling over my edges for as long as I can remember. The stories have to come out, and they are coming out, mushrooming up overnight with no publishing industry, agents, managers, or editors, simply because people are living their passion. That is the most exciting thing I’ve witnessed in I don’t know when.
If you look to the right, you’ll see that all my original content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License. This license means that you can share and remix: Email it to a friend, keep a copy on your computer, print it out and take it on the bus, make fanart, record your own audiobook, write fanfiction, the more power to you. Just attribute it to me (M.E. Traylor) at http://metraylor.com, and use the same or similar license. And if you make any derivative works, let me know! I’d love to see them!
Ways to Be A Part of Gifting Culture
There are tons of organizations, even technologies, that support a gifting culture.
- Enjoy and support web-based storytellers like weblit authors, webcomic artists, and podcasters.
- Use open-source software
- License your work under a Creative Commons license, and use CC licensed work
- Listen to and support music artists that give their music away for free at Jamendo
- Give and receive on Freecycle
- Host or sleep on someones couch for free at Couchsurfing
- Host or find a host at the Hospitality Club
- Give away books, DVDs, and CDs at Paperback Swap
- Swap books at Goodreads
- Learn about living in community