Almost every person who I have communicated with over the past couple weeks has thanked me for giving them the opportunity to donate to the site. At first I was like, "This is crazy. They've just donated a not-insignificant amount of money to someone they don't know to keep a blog going, and they are being so effusive and kind about it." But actually the more nice things people were saying to me, the more it made sense. The best relationships are the ones where two people are both giving, not out of obligation, but out of a desire to give. I cook you dinner, you bake dessert. I wash your car, you rub my shoulders. I leave a love note in your bag, you write a poem on a post-it and stick it to the bathroom mirror. I go down on you, you go down on me. We tend to associate this type of reciprocation with young love. But we don't stop doing these things because our love grows old; our love grows old because we stop doing these things.
What am I going on about? I wrote this site every day for months, but not out of any obligation. When I gave people the opportunity to give back, they were grateful for it. As I said above, this give and give is emblematic of all the best relationships. And it's what makes this site different than any other magic site on the internet.
I'm sure some people had an issue with the idea of me taking donations for the site. If that's how you feel, I don't know what to tell you. It certainly suggests that you don't value your time or have many requests for it. I'm in the opposite situation, I'm afraid. Or you may think my contributions aren't valuable. That's okay. You don't get this site. And I don't mean that in a bad way. You don't get this site the way I don't get modern country music. You just don't connect with it. I don't mind that. In fact, I love it. I look at some of the boring shit most of you are doing in what should be the most outlandish, untethered art-form and I'm relieved you don't get this site.
In general I don't like blogging about blogging, but some of you may find how this whole donation period played out interesting. So here is my last post (of any significance) on the subject.
A couple months ago, Andi Gladwin and Joshua Jay wrote me asking if I'd like to publish a book with Vanishing Inc. As far as I'm concerned, they're the premier magic book publishers of our time, so obviously I considered that an incredibly flattering offer as an unknown guy who had been writing a blog for a few months. My main issue with the idea is I didn't think my audience was vast enough to support a book release and I didn't want them to be stuck with 100s of books they couldn't sell. In addition to that, I didn't want them to be guilty by association for something dumb I said in the book, or, more likely, on this site.
To their credit they were both like, "We don't care if we don't sell many books, and we don't care what you say. We just want to publish interesting things." So that was one path I thought about taking, continuing to write the blog and then to publish a book with Andi and Josh. But I wasn't sure how the timing on that would work. The blog was already becoming a big time commitment and I figured it takes a while for a book to come out. Would I end up saddling them with a book by a guy who used to write a blog a couple of years ago by the time it came out?
Then a month ago I got another offer. This came from a semi-pro here in NYC and two other amateur magicians who work in the financial industry. They had a very interesting and generous offer for me. Essentially they wanted to hire me at close to my normal writing rate to continue the blog, but only for them. They would split the cost between themselves and two or three other people they would bring in. It was as close to a wealthy benefactor writing me a fat check as I was going to get, and would have been what amounted to a decent paying part-time job for me. But they essentially -- and understandably -- wanted exclusivity on any magic ideas I had. I would still write commentary and criticism for this site. But anything that was a routine -- even a half-thought out idea for a routine -- or had anything to do with theory, would be on a private site that only they had access too.
This appealed to my love of all things clandestine and secretive, and I'd actually be perfectly content writing a blog for 5 or 6 people. But, at the same time, I'd received so much positive feedback and made a bunch of new relationships with people from this site that I didn't want to take my ideas and run off if there was another way to do things. So the simple solution was if I could get 20 times the number of people to donate 1/20th of what these guys were offering then it would essentially be the same thing.
So did it work? Somewhat yes. Somewhat no. And somewhat it still remains to be seen.
We made enough to cover the cost of physically creating and printing the book.
We made enough to pay some people who have helped with the site in the past - technologically, artistically, testing ideas, etc.
But we didn't really exceed that amount, which means at this point in time I'm limited to working on the site in my spare time. (For much of the past 5 months I was turning down legitimate paid work to fuck around here with you. I sadly can't afford to do that anymore.)
And we fell way short of my goal of getting enough donations to do the really crazy shit I had in mind. Like tracking down the old L&L audience and doing a scripted mockumentary "Where Are They Now"-style web-series with them.
The site is going to continue. Monday will start the next iteration of this site. Here is how it will be different.
- The posts will be frequent, but they won't be daily. For those who were around during the MCJ days, it will be more like that schedule. I think I will keep the practice of putting new posts up at 3am ET, that way you don't have to check more than once a day.
- The posts are generally going to be shorter. You won't see many posts with full routines. Those are very time-consuming to write and I think, fairly, will be reserved for those who donated for the book.
- Soon there will be two new links at the top of the page. One will say "Buy the Book," and one will say "Want More?." The first link is obvious. The second will present people with a bunch of different ways to support the site in the future if they're interested in more content than I can provide in my free time. My goal is to make the site very symbiotic. So if there is a demand for more content or content that is longer or more involved, then people will have a direct way to affect that via these two links because any money this site makes will go directly back into the site. For those people who have an issue with a blog being anything other than a completely philanthropic enterprise where I donate my time and ideas for free, this will probably annoy you. Tough. I have a gift for you. It's in my pants. It's my girthy dong. Blow me.
So we'll see what happens next. The site won't be exactly the same, and it will evolve in ways I don't even know right now. But it's going to here for some time to come.