Why I have a ‘Donate’ button on my blog

For the first almost-year of this blog, I did not have a ‘Donate’ button up. But now I do. There are many compelling reasons for this, and it was a difficult decision to make, and one that I struggled with for many months. But here it is:

Many mornings I have to decide: Do I blog today or do I work today?

Because of my several chronic mental illnesses, the stark majority of days I can’t do both. I don’t have enough spoons, and my spoons are costly. Ironically, many of my mental health troubles can be traced back to religious oppression as a powerful contributing factor. I am yet in awe of how difficult it is to transcend all of this.

But there it is: Either I work, or I blog. If I choose to blog instead of work, I’m not making money I need to live on, as someone with a middle lower class income. Sometimes, a miraculous thing happens and the donations I get in wake of that blog post make up for it (and then some), and I am overwhelmed with the kindness and support of my fanbase.

That is the first reason I have a donate button on my blog.

The second reason is that there is no shame in accepting voluntary support for my work.

It is a false dichotomy that pits a valuable cause against payment for work in service of it. Activists and people seeking to help others need to live too, and that’s why salaried activist positions within nonprofits are a thing. Having financial support does not detract from either the love or the commitment to or the value of a good cause.

This is a little different, of course, because I will never require support from anybody in order to continue doing what I do. This blog and the new one I’m setting up over at The Freethought Blogs will always be available for free. Always. And any support I receive here is entirely voluntary support for my work.

Yes, work.

Artists and writers are too-often viewed as hobbyists rather than workers, despite producing, well, products that people consume and benefit from in various ways. People enjoy this blog, feel validated by it, learn from it, build community through it. I have spent a lot of time and money developing the skills I need to write theory, story, and narrative. I have a Master’s degree in philosophy with concentrations in political philosophy and ethics, and I could not produce the critiques in this blog without that academic background. I have a year and a half in an MFA program in fiction writing under my belt and several years of professional experience in writing, editing, and publishing that inform my positions and give me the skills I need to do what I do. I view my years of personal experience among Islamist societies and the costs I have carried from them to be effectively priceless. Nothing could compel me to go back. But I acknowledge that this blog is largely informed by those experiences.

I also do this work at my own expense, cutting into my health, energy, time, and sometimes assets to research, write, and critique. I’ve wanted to quit several times. I came very close twice, because sometimes this whole project is just horribly overwhelming and draining, and I can barely handle my own life and my own pain.

But every time I start thinking this way, I get a message from someone somewhere who read my work and found validation and vindication in it, who I somehow touched in an essential human way. And I keep doing it, because I want to, and because it’s important.

And yes, I do it because I care. I do it because it is a labor of love.

And I only wish I could subsist on this love. But I can’t, which is why I accept help if and when my readers are able and willing to support this endeavor, to make this whole project a little less costly and painful for me.

I will still blog to the best of my ability no matter what. I will still keep the blog free and accessible to everyone online no matter what.

That being said, I am happy and thankful to receive your support.

-Marwa

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