The StorySinkhole: A Natural History of Suicide tells two stories: a personal story of the legacy of suicide in my family and a story of the boom-to-bust growth of an American mining town. I'm writing about my family's original home--Pittsburg, Kansas--and about its history as one of the largest coal mining regions in the country. I'm also writing about the life and death of my father and both my grandfathers--all of whom died by suicide. My maternal grandfather’s family (his father and four brothers) worked throughout their lives in the coal mines. My paternal grandfather served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and fought for worker's rights, including those of coal miners. This is an American story that is also emblematic of a piece of history.
The ImpactThere are roughly 36,000 deaths by suicide in America every year. With roughly six people touched by each suicide, the number of survivors is considerable, and growing. Yet, why do we hear so little about suicide? In part, because it's a different kind of tragedy; murders make news, most suicides don't.
Because of the emotional nature of the material and the research involved so far, this project represents the slowest and most careful writing I’ve ever undertaken. The work of this project, in particular, has required contemplative time that supports both the conception of the project and the drafting of new material. Likewise, to understand the history of Pittsburg and my father’s origins more fully, this project requires research and travel throughout Southeastern Kansas.
A portion of this manuscript was awarded the 2011 Arts & Letters Susan Atefat Prize in Non-Fiction; other recent awards include a 2012 Minnesota Emerging Writer's Grant, and a fellowship from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Funding from these sources has helped me to complete nearly all of my research and draft the first half of the book. This campaign is designed to build off this momentum of support and help me meet the goal of completing a full-length draft by Spring 2013. Now more than ever I’m realizing how much I need to focus on this project so it can be completed—and more importantly, shared.
My overhead is low, but I still have expenses to meet. My target goal is $8,000, which will cover a portion of my basic expenses through April 2013. Like many artists, I string together a modest income through a variety of freelance jobs that allow me flexibility and time in the studio. Your contribution will help me keep my work load to a minimum over the next six months, so I can spend more time writing.
By contributing to this campaign, you're also investing in the grassroots principle of crowdfunding, an idea vital to our future. In these difficult economic and political times, it seems important that we all come together to share resources, give to each other to support ideas we believe in and grow our collective power.
There are many ways for you to participate: as a fan, sponsor, devotee, patron, or angel and the perks, one of a kind.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you're personally unable to contribute, please spread the word via e-mail, Facebook. Twitter, love letter, or postcard to others who might be interested or able to contribute. Please help me make the most of this opportunity. Thank you!