When the earthquake devastated Haiti, I was shocked, appalled and overwhelmed.
Being almost 4,500 miles away from the tragedy, which struck this poverty-stricken nation on January 12, left me bereft.
I sat and watched the news, realising there was nothing I could do that would help the families whose meagre possessions had been wiped away.
What could I do? I have no skills, no medical expertise, nothing that would benefit these wretched people.
But social networking focused my thoughts.
While I was racked with guilt over my inability to do anything of use, I saw a tweet about bloggers donating to Shelterbox. I made a small donation.
Then, another tweet caught my attention. One blogger wanted to hear from editors, sub-editors, journalists – anyone with editing skills – to help with a project for Haiti.
A week after the disaster, Greg McQueen posted a video on his blog saying: “Dear Twitterverse, I can’t keep watching this on the news or trending on Twitter without doing something. I woke up this morning with the idea that together we could make an e-book and donate all the profits to the Red Cross.”
(Greg’s video can be found at www.ireallyshouldbewriting.net/100-stories-for-haiti/)
I didn’t know Greg, I didn’t follow him on Twitter. But the beauty of the microblogging site meant that within hours of his original posting, hundreds of people were forwarding his message.
Many people who I follow retweeted Greg’s post. I saw it many times in a couple of hours.
The premise is deceptively simple: getting as many short story submissions as possible to raise money for the victims of the earthquake.
Out of the submissions, 100 pieces of fiction would be chosen to appear in an e-book, the proceeds of which will go to the Red Cross.
100 Stories for Haiti was born.
I offered my services and was accepted onto the project.
Dozens and dozens of short stories were submitted and I, along with 23 others, have been going through the pieces. I do what I can, when I can. I have no idea if I am doing more or less than anyone else (I suspect less), but this is an incredible project and I’m hugely proud to be involved with it.
The calibre of submissions (generally) from across the world has been astonishing; the skills of the volunteer editors awesome.
It is an amazing project – and one I hope you will support.
The book will be sold on www.smashwords.com, whose founder and CEO Mark Coker will be waiving the normal 15% commission.
100 Stories for Haiti will be published in mid-February, 2010.