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This is an experiment. And it is for a good cause. Good cause + experiment = some fun!

I have an exultant mantra that my friends have heard me say before. It's my touchstone against the darkness. It's the way I manage to keep some sense of self going in this wild world.

It is this: I'm a writer. I write. For money.

Not a lot of money, mind. But still. Every now and again, I get a piece of paper with my name, and an autograph from a publisher, and the phrase "Pay to the order of" on it. It's incredible. It's validation that can often buy you a Happy Meal. And it means a lot to me.

Well, Websnark isn't paid work, and that's okay with me. I like doing Websnark. I like writing about things. Just because I do write for money doesn't mean I have to write for money. For Websnark, money just doesn't enter into it.

Until now.

You see... I've been thinking a lot about Child's Play. You know, the charity founded by Gabe and Tycho over at Penny Arcade. Now, I've donated to it. I donated last year, and I donated this year. I'm all about giving nice things to sick kids. That's just cool. And I've been looking at some of the art that webcartoonists are donating and auctioning and the like, and feeling pretty flush and good about it all. And I wish I could get in on that... only I don't draw. I write.

And then it hit me. I write. Well enough that sometimes, I get paid for it. And I have a website that's developed a measure of popularity, specifically for my writing. And sometimes, I have people beg me to snark a given webcomic, or write about a given topic, or just say they like what words I put together for these things.

All right then. Let's do a little experiment. And maybe... just maybe... help some kids while doing it.

As of 8 AM Eastern Standard Time this morning, I have started an auction on eBay. The opening bid is five bucks. The closing bid? We'll see in five days. And the winner of this auction gets to set the topic of a snark here on Websnark.

That's right. Anything you like. You want me to snark a webcomic you like? You got it. You want me to write a short story about Ants? Fine. Harry Potter Fan Fiction? Sure thing. A poem? Okay! A discussion of the Fugitive Poets and how their philosophy relates to the evolution of critical thought? Bring it on.

Oh, I've put a restriction that it has to be moderately safe for work (I would have a certain cognitive disconnect with writing explicit gay porn for a children's charity, for example). And I've put in a requirement that while you set the topic, the opinions are going to be mine -- so I can't promise I'll love the webcomic you ask me to write about. But I do promise to give it a fair shake.

Is all of this arrogant? Probably. I'm putting out into the world that someone out there likes this well enough to want to drop a few bucks on it. But why not be arrogant if it's for a good cause? Every penny from this goes out of my Paypal account and into Child's Play. Every last penny. (I'll cover the Paypal fees myself.) So you're helping out an exceptionally worthy cause by doing this.

(I'd offer another one of these to Gabe and Tycho for their live auction on the 9th, but I'm afraid they'd respond by saying "Websnwhat? Never heard of it." Ah, fear.)

So. Check it out. Bid if you'd like. If no one at all bids, I'll drop the 5 buck opening bid on Child's Play myself, in addition to my other donation. And, well, I'll be humbled, which might not be a bad thing. But it'd be nice to have more. So please! Check it out, think it over, and if you want -- bid on!

Oh, and if you find this whole thing ridiculous... go to Child's Play directly and donate, anyway. Even if my little thing seems silly, the cause is good.

But I hope you do bid. Because bidding would make me feel good, and more to the point would mean Websnark could donate something nice as a whole. And that would rock.

EDIT: At Sean Riley's suggestion, I'll set a minimum word count. For any kind of essay or short story, it'll be at least 1,000 words and could go much much higher (I've been known to do 5,000 word snarks. If it's a poem or the like, we'll cap it at 20 lines minimum, maximum whatever seems right.

But the point is, this will be a meaty snark, not twelve words and a thumbnail.


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Your wording implies that you would otherwise be okay with writing explicit gay porn, if it weren't for the fact this was in service of a children's charity.

Just sayin'....

For charity? If this weren't for a children's charity and going up on my public website, the sky'd be the limit. I mean, I once wrote a western role playing game. Gay porn's nothing compared to that.

I saw that the auction is already up to $100.

The Joy of giving!

Eh, leaving aside my own financial insolvency and the fact that I'll be Xmas shopping at garage sales this year, I don't think I -could- bid on this.

Setting your topic for you... well... feels like -cheating.- I'd prefer a snark on WLP's stuff, or other web comics I like that I think you should snark, to come because you actually saw something you felt merited discussion... not because you had to meet a pledge of honor.

All of which reminds me, I need to get cracking on the writing commissions I have outstanding...

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