Amidst the hardship and heartbreak of the recent bushfires, acts of kindness restore faith in the future of this wide brown land.
It was wonderful to read about the generous responses to the bushfires of sports people like Nick Kyrgios, international celebrities like Leonardo di Caprio and Elton John, as well as local heroes like Chris Hemsworth.
The magnanimity of these donations is not diminished by the higher-than-average earning capacities of the donors.
If anything, it gives perspective to the efforts of the many grassroots campaigners working behind the scenes towards the same end. The #AuthorsforFireys fundraiser is one such example.
Initiated by authors Emily Gale and Nova Weetman, the #AuthorsforFireys auction attracted offers from both Australia and overseas. Authors, publishers, illustrators and literary agents contributed generously over the week long campaign. A glance at the auction spreadsheet – and at 62 pages, that’s a long glance – shows prizes ranging from signed and first edition copies to manuscript assessments to an assortment of social events catered for by authors.
Prizes included literary festival passes, tailor made poems for special occasions and weekends at writers’ retreats. Authors such as Helen Garner and David Marr donated, alongside unknowns like @MrKRudd, who offered signed books, Apology texts, and Kevin07 t-shirts, as well as a chat over tea and iced vovos.
The wide variety of items offered for auction was testament to the ingenuity and generosity of members of the Australian writing fraternity.
This is no surprise given the enterprise required of any Australian author just to bring home an average wage. Fewer than 5% are able to earn the average annual income from authoring alone. Multi-tasking is a mandatory skill of the writing community in our small pond.
As the recipient of an auction item and a would-be fish in that small pond, I appreciate their efforts. Every one of the highly desirable auction items attracted a bid. Many were the subject of nail-biting last ditch challenges as the deadline drew near.
Even in those final tense hours, the community spirit of the campaign prevailed. To quote one of the many tweets of the campaign, ‘I love the #WritingCommunity’. The tireless organisers kept the #AuthorsforFireys’ cause front of bidders’ minds:
to support the brave and deadly work undertaken by Australian firefighters during the worst fire conditions ever recorded
#AuthorsforFireys has restored my faith in the resourcefulness of my tribe and the resilience of the human spirit. And raised over $500,000 for those affected by the bushfires in the process.