What Do You Know About Gift Economy?

You come home to a package on your door. You haven’t ordered anything, and see your name hand-written.

It’s a gift.

You bring it inside. No matter what is in it, you know you’ll be pleased. It could be something you need, something you want, something you haven’t thought of, or a mixture.

You open it up to see your surprises and a note from a friend. It warms your heart that she’s been thinking of you and knows you well enough to gather these items.

Naturally, you think of what you can send to her. What can she use that you may have or need? What have you found out about that may delight her too?

She hasn’t expected a return- but you now have the desire. You may not have much spare money to purchase something for her. You may have to give up something for yourself to pay back her favor. Or you could craft something creatively.

You think of other people who could use an unexpected package. You stay up late to make things, work an extra shift to help with shipping costs. You give an extra product to someone random because you can. You’re known as the inspired friend.


You come home to a package on your door. You’ve ordered something online and it has come in. You waited to order it when the arbitrary price the seller agreed to went down. You waited to order it when you worked enough hours at a set wage to get paid and put that money in a bank account you can draw from.

You chose exactly what you wanted. You worked for it, and it feels good to buy yourself what you craved. At the end of this day, you owe no one anything.


The term gift economy was a new one to me. After a lifetime of trading work for value and cashing that value in for goods and services, the concept is foreign.

In a gift economy, there is no currency. It is different from a barter system because valuables are given without expectation of reward.

People who wax poetic about gift economy will tell you there are many plusses. People are all equals since the hierarchy of net worth is missing. Everyone must work as a community, and jobs are given in a democratic way. The government does not need to spend so much time taxing and punishing people but instead focuses on assessing and meeting their needs. The community does not have to overproduce. With time freed by not needing to overproduce or spend time counting beans, people can “selfishly” pursue their own interests. The results can lead to breakthroughs that benefit everyone instead of being hoarded by a few. Resources are held in commons.

The act of gift giving creates bonds instead of receipts. It triggers reciprocity instead of debt. People might return the favor even bigger because people seek a sense of contribution. The only way to be “rich” is to work hard to amass things to give so you can have gift-giving prestige. Psychologists might tell you the connections made from gift economy lead to happiness and our traditional economy isolates us into depression.

There are examples of this around us already. Freecycle, Buy Nothing, Impossible, Open Source. To gain notice, artists and business people might offer free things.

Gift economy can be used in conjunction with barter, but that might not solve all the potential problems. It seems to depend on people being selfless as a whole. It requires faith that common needs like roads and special welfare for the unable will be taken care of.

Decommodification takes the things we’re used to paying for, and turns them into entitlements for all. If you’re interesting in switching our economy, how would you do so?

  1. nationalizing- the government buys up stock in private organizations
  2. revolution-perhaps after a feud between two political parties a liberal leader can draw people over to a separate economy
  3. unions- can be strengthened enough to rise from the oppression

We know that machines can do so much for us, and sometimes better than humans. Some of us fear this. We could be replaced and we require an income so what job would we have to take instead? In a gift economy machines free us from work so we can focus on the interests of our choice.

If you hear about gift economy, or live through it at something like Burning Man, you may be convinced. Or you may think it’s unfeasible. Would people with money want to give up their status and power over others? If they think gift economy will fail, they might focus on defending themselves from potential thieves from the gift economy who aren’t getting as much as they want. (How large of a wall would they need?) Would the media be honest about the successes of gift economy or focus on confirming the “chaos”?

Even if you aren’t affluent, you still might not find gift economy appealing. Collectively we might be able to survive as a species. Giving up creature comforts might be too big of a sacrifice. If you like working hard to collect unique resources, you might not like being held back by the community.

Capitalism might not always being an option. Automation risks jobs. The economy is unpredictable and difficult to study because it may be based on equilibrium theory and assume people will act rationally and in their best interest to maximize return. We don’t.

Some would be happy to see capitalism in the rear view. Gone would be the days where we are convinced we need to be controlled with money. Instead we could be civil just because we’re human. We could be driven for others instead of just ourselves. Gone would be the social stratification, seeing money as a means to an end, competing against each other for the opportunity to work. Gone would be the scarcity mindset and focusing on what you lack. Those hoarding wealth and depression could be set free.

 

This is how I’ve come to understand it, at least. What do you know about gift economy? What ideas does it inspire?

Nanowrimo 2019

“Why do I need a warning about NaNoWriMo?” my husband asks.

NaNoWriMo 2019 will be my second month of writing 1,667 words a day. My username is still Crookham, if you’re also signed up for the challenge.

I suppose my husband, after a baby in 2017 and 2018, is ready for this temporary month of voluntary sleeplessness. He’s ready for my mind to be elsewhere, for my chores to slip, and to order takeaway because I forgot food existed.

At least I’ll have something more interesting to chat about than baby poop.

What I’ve learned since last NaNoWriMo is that a novel should really be at least 60,000 words for a traditional publisher. So I’m prepared to also spend some of December reaching that minimum.

This book is exciting to me because it has something in common with Gender Chasm- a divided nation. It will also showcase what I’ve learned about pregnancy and newborns while these things are still young in my mind.

Would you ever attempt NaNoWriMo?

 

Wish me luck,

 

 

 

 

Update: I have decided to postpone writing my novel in a month until January. Another writing opportunity came up, a fellow writer needed feedback, my workload increased… Mostly I felt unprepared to write and although I was willing to try “pantsing” and see what ideas popped into my writing, the idea of editing a book not based on an outline I could reference was too intimidating.

When I think about my decision, I don’t feel relieved of the creating because I know the stress of daily writing will happen in two months instead (although January does have a built in “cheat day” since there are 31). Instead, I feel relieved that I am going to work on a project with my level of quality structure from the beginning, rather than forcing in plot after the first draft. This is how I know it’s the right thing for me to do.

Submitting to Submission

Gender Chasm is completed, thanks to Nanowrimo. I have edited it for content and sent it to beta readers for feedback on any plot confusion. When it comes back I will run it through AutoCrit again to smooth out any repetition and make better choices.

So now I sit back and relax.

Nope.

It is time for me to research potential publishers. This is my first foray into the Writer’s Market and I am fascinated. In 80 pages, I have gathered 27 initial potential publishers which I am sure will diminish upon further scrutiny.

Have you ever selected a book because you trusted the publisher? I think I might from now on. If you have a genre you enjoy, there is a certainly a book maker who specializes in it.

Here are some comments from what book publishers are seeking:

“Canadian authors only”

“Midwestern authors in a Midwestern setting”

“Hispanic literary creativity”

“LGBTQ-focused works only”

“targeting modern women”

“avoid cutesy”

“ask probing questions about the world around us”

“dark, edgy books”

“responds in 6-18 months if interested”

“include publishing history in query letter”

“a true literary marauder”

“does not consider erotica”

“as long as the romance element is strong”

“online submissions only”

“Do not fax or e-mail queries or mss”

 

I must confess, reading their desires left me wishing I had something in their niche (add a vampire, take out the sex, change my citizenship). However, I am proud of my work and will instead find a place comfortable with producing and marketing my type of novel.

2016 Goals: February Update

I am behind on my goals, even with a leap day added into the year.  My new plan is to set more rigid deadlines for my editing schedule.

 

November goal: write 50,000 words
December goal: finish writing book to The End
January goals: go back to each chapter and add setting, change a bit of story line I want to add post-writing, and fill in gaps where I wrote “Fix”
X Fast Pencil printing of manuscript <-the code I received from NaNoWriMo did not work, and my request for support e-mail was never returned. This was a huge disappointment, especially since I spent so much time uploading my chapters.
headshots with Brandon Shane Warren Photography
February goals: polish words choices, make lists of character descriptions to make sure they are cohesive/ not overused, submit short story to Dragonfly contest  http://www.wearehopeworks.org/dragonfly/, try out AutoCrit
March goals: ready for publishing, send to first publisher, outline fairy tale short story project for anthology
April goal: Camp Nano. write fairy tale short story
May goal: edit fairy tale short story
June goal: outline short story for contest of choice. send novel to second publisher if have not yet heard back from first
July: Camp Nano. write contest short story
August: edit contest short story
Sept: prep short story for publish
Oct: outline my next novel. self publish first novel if have not heard back from two attempts at publishers
November: Nanowrimo write 50,000 words of novel #2
December: finish novel #2 to The End. market first Novel

Love, Ashley (Crookham)

 

2016 Goals: January update

Editing is tiring. Half of my brain is dedicated to the theater of my story. The other half is jealous because it has to perform daily tasks. I feel like I’m on autopilot, but the autopilot isn’t set for a conscious destination.

2015 Author Ashley Crookham writing with white headphones

My writer’s group met yesterday and we discussed goals for our group for the year. The following is a list of my own goals for the year. I’ll be re-posting this every month or so to keep myself on track.

November goal: write 50,000 words
December goal: finish writing book to The End
January goal: go back to each chapter and add setting, change a bit of story line I want to add post-writing, and fill in gaps where I wrote “Fix”
February goal: polish words choices, make lists of character descriptions to make sure they are cohesive/ not overused
March goal: ready for publishing. send to first publisher outline fairy tale short story project for anthology
April goal: Camp Nano. write fairy tale short story
May goal: edit fairy tale short story
June goal: outline short story for contest of choice. send novel to second publisher if have not yet heard back from first
July: Camp Nano. write contest short story
August: edit contest short story
Sept: prep short story for publish
Oct: outline my next novel. self publish first novel if have not heard back from two attempts at publishers
November: Nanowrimo write 50,000 words of novel
December: finish novel to The End. market first Novel

Love, Ashley (Crookham)

 

NaNoWriMo 2015: Update #4

NaNo-2015-Winner-Certificate-Ashley-Crookham

I wrote over 50,000 words between November 1st and November 30th!

What I learned:

Don’t stop no matter what. Keep going until it’s done.

Fear, time constraints, lack of inspiration. None of them are as important to me as my writing is.

Rough drafts are a perfectly natural part of the writing process. They are not set in stone; they can be refined. They should be refined. There is a magical place where you feel “done” that is worth the effort it takes to get there.Love, Ashley (Crookham)

NaNoWriMo 2015: Update #3

NaNoWriMo breakfast: chocolate croissant frittata
NaNoWriMo breakfast: chocolate croissant frittata

Imagine your book is a painting you’d like to complete.

Painting is difficult! Few people make a well done, interesting, painting with depth.

Sometimes people only seem to like paintings of already-famous painters so it can seem pointless to try to break-in.

 

NaNoWriMo is a time limit to make the pencil outline of your “painting”. At the end of the month, you’ll have 50,000 words (I currently have 32,702). Due to the time limit, there aren’t many spare minutes to use your eraser. Instead, you focus on completing the outline, knowing nothing is permanent. Then you take a step back and look. You might be pleasantly surprised. In December, you can make changes you think are necessary, then you begin to fill in the painting with color.

In the end, you may not recognize the original work you did during NaNoWriMo. However, you never would have finished the lovely painting in front of you if not for challenging yourself to complete your daily goals. Love, Ashley (Crookham)

NaNoWriMo 2015: Update #2

It’s cold in the sun room where I write. I also find it difficult to turn off my brain at night while thinking of my story- I’m not getting much sleep.

author Ashley Crookham writes in sunroom

One morning I thought, my hands are cold. I should go warm them up in the microwave.

Luckily it’s not possible to microwave just yours hands. My fingers are still functioning.

Back to NaNoWriMo I go.

Love, Ashley (Crookham)

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriPro tip: Use your computer’s photo booth to practice the feelings of your characters so you can describe their facial expressions. This would work with a mirror too, if you’re willing to leave your chair.

NaNoWriMo 2015: Update #1

Author Ashley Crookham coffee stationI am officially in my second week of NaNoWriMo. There are four weeks in November, so that means I am over 25% done with the endeavor. My word count is a little behind. Still, I’m feeling positive and looking forward to seeing what my first draft contains. There is no time for editing while I’m cranking out 1,667 words a day.

Every morning I wake up three hours before work and make coffee. And write. After work, I turn off my office laptop, open my personal one, and write some more.

The nice thing about writing this way is there is no pressure to write well. My goal is just to flesh out the outline. It’s a totally new experience and I bet a natural part of most “real” authors’ processes.

Love, Ashley (Crookham)

Gender Chasm Blurb

NaNoWriMo 2015 begins tomorrow. I will be busy writing 1,666 words a day, so I thought I’d give you my first novel’s blurb to think about in the meantime:

Ashley Flanders two chicks“In a small nation, Women and Men have decided they are better off ruling themselves.

Freida grew up in a village of love and fairness. When her brother is captured Freida’s loyalty is tested. On her quest through the divided nation she sees what the future may hold if neither side is able to save itself.

Until then, there is a GENDER CHASM.”

Love, Ashley (Crookham)