By lex, on July 9th, 2007
Deeply personal bleg follows, below the fold. Casual readers should probably skip ahead – I’m going to ask a favor of friends.
The Kat,* as I may have told you, is a very special kid.** She’s smart, hard working and energetic. And the kid loves horses – she’s crazy about ‘em. Every year she goes to a western-style camp up in Bonsall ** called Rawhide Ranch – a place seemingly out of time, where the stout virtues of hard work are mixed with good clean fun in an unabashedly mom and apple pie kind of a way. The counselors come from all over the world, but the place is America, through and through. She loves it.
She’s already been to camp this summer and was on the very point of moving up to the next level in camper ranking – up from “Buckaroo” to “Wrangler.” I know, it seems a silly thing, but such distinctions define what kind of field she can compete in, what horses she rides, who she teaches – they learn how to teach. These things mean a lot to a kid who’s only 13. When we picked her up last Saturday she told us that she was almost ready to challenge the test – it’s a 32-page study guide – but that she ran out of time and wanted one more week in camp. More than anything.
The Hobbit and I exchanged grim glances over her head. Living in San Diego on a naval officer’s salary can leave you rich on paper but pretty damned house poor at the end of the month. We’ve got our hands full with personal obligations, retirement is a year away and paying for another kid in college is only two years off. We simply can’t afford it to send the Kat for another week at camp, it’s out of the question.
She knows this, but she’s also 13 so she hasn’t forgotten how to simultaneously believe in two contradictory things. She still believes in miracles. Last night after supper she had her study guide out and was heads down with her highlighter. Later she was counting through her birthday money, but it’s nothing like enough.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably one of the people that I’ve come to think of as a friend even though we may have never met, even though we might never get the chance to meet. And although I believe that I’ve provided a kind of value to my readers over the years, so also have they enriched my life, so I’ve been very reluctant to rattle the cup, although I will plead guilty to having asked you to pony up for various charities.
You may even be one of those folks who’s already been so personally generous over the years, and if so I thank you once again. And we’ve all got things of our own going on in our own lives, our own obligations. And all of this makes me deeply uncomfortable, even asking for your help. Asking for a handout from friends feels like betraying a trust. Because this isn’t like I’m asking for a pint of Guinness at the local.
So here’s what I’m offering. You know that last year, in the run-up to the fall Valour-IT fund raiser *, I offered up a smooth manuscript of the “Rhythms” compendium in an auction. The winner chose to pay $600 for the final, signed copy – an almost absurdly generous price which nevertheless went towards a great cause. Shamed out of my customary inertia by the kindness of this gesture, I went back and edited the entire text, cleaning up inconsistencies throughout in case, tense and fact, and omitting the “previous” text of the blog serial making it I think a much better and more enjoyable read. I also cobbled together that epilogue that most of you who enjoyed the serial have already read.
At 300-odd double spaced pages, and lacking conformance to certain conventions in narrative and character development, it is not quite the book I hope it will someday be. But it’s not nothing, either. A lot of heart went into the writing of it, and the editing as well. You guys helped.
So, I’m asking you: How much do you think an electronic copy of “Rhythms” might be worth?
I get a little over a thousand looks or so a day, so more folks read than comment and that’s OK. But if forty of you thought it was worth 20 bucks, the Kat could go back to camp and challenge that test, maybe become a “Wrangler” at age 13. If 80 of you thought it was worth $10, she’d be on her way, and have her faith in miracles extended for maybe another year or so. Yeah, it’s expensive, and yes she’s already been once. But next year she’ll be 14 and if I’ve learned anything as a father it’s that they don’t stay small forever.
I’m not setting a price: I’ll email whomever asks for it a copy of the revised text at whatever price they think is fair – for nothing even, if that’s what you think it’s worth.
If we make the number, I’ll let you know and we can all go back to just being friends again, rather than supplicant and beneficiary. I won’t ask you for anything like this again, certainly not for myself.
So, can I make you a deal?
Update: Wow. We’re not quite two hours into it and already the Kat is 63% of the way to camp. I’d like to fool myself it’s because you want to see the revision, but I know that’s not it – you guys are the best. If we get across the line, or hell – even within shouting distance – I’ll ask her to write something here herself to thank you.
Update 2: 72% as of 1444 PST. That’s pretty impressive.
Update 3: $700 as of 1515. We’ll call that done, thank you deeply for your help and do the last of it ourselves.
Somewhat atypically, words fail me. But thanks. Thanks to all.
* 08-10-2018 Links Gone; no replacements found – Ed.
** 08-10-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.