October 2014

The 30/30 Challenge for Hugo House

by Ruth Austin

I very seldom ask for sponsorship. Of course, I give money to charity when and where I can, often sponsor others’ efforts, and sometimes I’ve worn costumes for Comic Relief or Children in Need, but let’s face facts: I am not really a sporting person. I will probably never run a marathon, let alone a 5K; just as I will never climb Kilimanjaro, or sail around the world.

This month, however, I’m doing something that terrifies me just as much as all those things. I have straightjacketed myself into writing 30 minutes a day for the next 30 days—and all to raise money for Hugo House.

Hugo House is a fantastic writer’s center here in Seattle. They’re a non-profit, spinning classes, retreats and events pretty much out of thin air every season, and they need all the donations, volunteer and financial support they can get. It’s run by writers, for writers, and embodies much of the creative ethos and make-it-for-yourself spirit that I love so much about this city.

At present (though perhaps not for much longer) their home is a glorious, rambling and ramshackle turn-of-the-century craftsman on Capitol Hill. I’m not ashamed to admit it—I fell in love with the house the very first time I stepped onto its front porch, and for all (or perhaps because of) its structural faults and idiosyncrasies, I think I was drawn to the building itself as much as the organization.

When I heard about the 30/30 challenge there was never any doubt that I would take it up, and scrape as much money together as I could for the house. I signed up right away, but I was a little anxious about disciplining myself to write Every Single Day. I usually wait until an idea has been rolling around in the back of my head for a few days. I know that this is not the best way to approach writing. It’s just that I sometimes find it hard to turn off the editing part of my brain before I write; I want to be sure something has enough momentum to push past the quibbling and the reworking before I open my notebook. With 30/30 there’s no waiting for that to happen without the risk of breaking my fundraising commitment.

I was secretly terrified of sitting down and nothing coming out. Day 1 was pretty nerve-wracking.

It’s now day 5. I have already raised $100, and have put more ideas down on paper than I have in the previous three months. Some are not so good, and some, perhaps, worth digging into a little more. Some might even make it onto this blog. We’ll see . . .

In the meantime, you can sponsor me by visiting:

Ruth Austin

Freelance editor and writer. Often found in a corner scribbling on bits of paper.