Desdemona’s Tithe

Today is the day my novella Desdemona and the Deep comes into the world at large. And I’ve been doing a lot of posting, tweeting, singing, dancing, thanking, and it’s all very joyful.

But now I want to talk about the dark start of Desdemona, in 2016.

I began the novella in November of that year. Everything felt just a little pointless in November of 2016. And, I have to admit, most of 2017 too. All of it, really. Art, especially.

Or, no, not everyone’s art. Mine particularly. It seemed so singularly frivolous, useless. Why finish anything? The point of 2017, surely, was to march in protests, donate to the ACLU, to RAICES, sign petitions, call representatives.

And I did some of that. Some, but not enough. Mostly–though it was a slog–I did what I always did. I wrote.

But I told myself, “The only way you can make this count, Cooney, the only way you won’t be wasting your time, is if you do something concrete with the art when you’re done. Something that supports the real work going on out there while you sit on your butt and write fantasy.”

Now, that was despair talking. I truly believe (on my better days) (and my husband Carlos reminds me) that art is work, and that work is part of the long conversation, part of changing minds, hearts, changing culture. The work we do as artists isn’t useless, even if it sometimes feels that way.

But knowing that wasn’t enough to finish Desdemona. I needed something that translated thought more directly into action. I needed a vow.

So I said to myself, “If and when you ever publish this honking beastie of a novella, Cooney, you will donate the proceeds to the ACLU! It will be your tithe.”

As Desdemona learns in the eponymous novella, a tithe is a tenth. In the spirit of any good goblin bargain, I will tithe a portion of my income every month at full moon (in the Desdemona mythos, I call it the “Gentry Moon”) to charity. And I will be reminded, every month at full moon, what I owe the world for this novella. The price others paid so that I could write it.

These are the charities I’ve chosen. I’ve gone through and found the full moons of each month, and I’ll put them into my calendar with multiple alerts, so that I won’t fail in my vow.

And I am writing this all here today, to hold myself accountable.

Full Moon Tithe: August 15th

Amnesty International
Full Moon Tithe: September 14th

Full Moon Tithe: October 13th

Doctors Without Borders
Full Moon Tithe: November 12th

Heifer International
Full Moon Tithe: December 12th

Planned Parenthood
Full Moon Tithe: January 10th

City Harvest
Full Moon Tithe: February 9th

It Gets Better
Full Moon Tithe: March 9th

Black Youth Project 100
Full Moon Tithe: April 7th

KIND–Kids in Need of Defense
Full Moon Tithe: May 7th!/donation/checkout

Color of Change
Full Moon Tithe: June 5th

Full Moon Tithe: July 5th

And after this? We’ll start again.


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8 responses to “Desdemona’s Tithe

  1. Faye J Ringel

    Brilliant! Compassionate! What else would we expect from you? How about sending one copy of either the physical book or a link to the e-version to each charity with your explanation? It’s not self-aggrandizing–I think they’d enjoy hearing the explanation and maybe use it in their own publicity, thus extending the effectiveness of your gift.

    • csecooney

      I will have to think how best to do that. But I think, probably, they need the money more than they need the art. 😀 I could buy 12 paperbacks and donate them to prisons? Prisons always need paperbacks.

      • Faye J Ringel

        I’m sorry to be so unclear–I meant sending the book and explanation right along with the donation! Prison donations of books are . . .complicated. Book Barn is right next door to Niantic Prison and I heard they weren’t allowed to just bring books over.

  2. Thank you for this lovely post. Very excited to read your novella!

  3. Pingback: Citymeals on Wheels | C.S.E. Cooney

  4. Pingback: Doctors Without Borders and Heifer International | C.S.E. Cooney

  5. Pingback: Desdemona's Tithe: Planned Parenthood (January '20) and City Harvest (February '20) | C.S.E. Cooney

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