With the end of 2013 -- and, more importantly, the first of the next month -- approaching, Craig D. Lindsey was in a bad spot. As he explained a Tumblr post on December 30, the former staff writer at the Raleigh-Durham News & Observer was in his third year of looking for a full-time writing gig, and several months behind on his rent. He was still winning awards for his sharp and funny pop-culture writing, but his regular freelance outlets had cut his workload, and without family to fall back on, he was in genuine danger of being without a place to live. So on the last day of the year, Lindsey swallowed his pride and launched an Indiegogo campaign for the $900 he needed to keep a roof over his head.
He got much more than that.
In four hours, Lindsey had his back rent. By the following day, it was over $3000. At this writing, he has more than $4300, despite having added a grateful note telling people they can stop giving money. (Indiegogo does not allow campaigns to be closed before they're completed.) Jim Romanesko, who covers the state of the journalism industry, sent word of Lindsey's campaign to his 87,000 followers; my own tweet about his campaign was retweeted by the New York Times Magazine's Adam Sternbergh and Slate's David Haglund. Although most of the donations were anonymous, well-known writers like Matt Zoller Seitz, James Wolcott and Marilyn Ferdinand made their support public. Keep in mind, too, that this happened during a time of year when, holiday spirit notwithstanding, many people are offline. No wonder Lindsey has changed the name on his Twitter account to "'hood George Bailey."
On his Tumblr, a grateful Lindsey greeted the new year with a new outlook:
There are several things I’ve learned during this whole thing. For one, I've learned that people aren't awful. (As I just recently told a mentor on the phone, "People just gave me $3000 -- I can't say the world sucks anymore.") Secondly, while no one wants to be seen as a pitiful charity case, sometimes you need help. And, if you can get past your ego and your pride and just ask, people are more than willing to come to your aid. Finally, it made me realize that I should be more giving and charitable as well. I often dream of having enough money and resources to help out those in need. This outpouring has showed me I don't have to wait until then. From those donating $5 to $200, every bit of it helped. No donation is ever small.
None of this, of course, changes the fact that Lindsey could still use work: For editors seeking out new voices, here he is in Philadelphia Weekly on the year in TV and the forthcoming seasons of Community, Dance Moms and Cougar Town. Writing for a living is still a tough racket, but it turns out that when the chips are down, a whole lot of people have your back.