Sunday, August 2, 2009

Calling all Activists! Time For More (yes more!) Instigation!

I don’t blog much.

I never really learned how to type because my mother didn’t want me to have the option of becoming a secretary. She wanted me to run some organization, create wild new things, and argue injustice further to the corner. How could she have known in 1966 how important typing would be to all that?

Additionally, I’m a dyslexic academic and proofing what I’ve written, I feel like a fool running in bare feet over hot coals without the proper juju.

So I usually reserve the typing/proofing-torture for plays, novels, or papers.

But this is an unnecessary limitation, a habit that I don’t need to hold on to.

As usual, coming home from Wiscon I felt excited, connected, and activated; experiencing our collective force, I was rearing to go! I was particularly inspired by a thoughtful panel on class, and I had the good fortune to be a panelist discussing Andrea Smith’s Conquest and its connection to the work we do as feminist writers and readers.

Smith argues, among other things, that as we work to create the society we want, as we struggle with the persistence of empire in our lives, we should center on the most vulnerable ones in order to achieve the most profound transformations.

I’ve been thinking about that these last few months.

I think other people should think about this too!


I know many writers are solitary, like a one-person band. And of course: Predatory Corporate Capitalism has a profound effect on what we value, what we think is possible, what we decide to do. However as Albert Einstein said, "The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them."

Timmi and I were surprise guests one Friday afternoon at the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in Seattle this summer. It was a real treat to meet with a group of sparkling new writers who were inventing their futures. But I sat there thinking that Timmi coming up with Aqueduct Press was one of the big Science Fiction Ideas at the table—Back in 2000 and something Timmi decided that she didn’t like the present publishing world and so decided to make a better one—to publish those works that had been neglected by other presses that she believed readers would relish.

This is the way to go!

So what are the things we want to create?

What are the things we want to make happen?

How can we center on the most vulnerable?



Oyceter said...

I don't have many solutions yet and am still trying to work out how to do this myself, but I wanted to say thank you for bringing it up at that panel, and that I've had it on my mind for a while now.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

Diane Silver and I have been discussing the idea of writer communities over the past year. We did a panel on this at WisCon and are preparing a short report for the WisCon Chronicles. The general idea is a co-op or other group housing situation, with a variety of writers (and perhaps other creative types). We could share resources from Internet connections to laundry facilities to cars; provide assistance to each other (babysitting for young parents, health aide services for the eldest); and have the advantage of another writer next door when we desperately need someone to read something we've done. And if the place we set up right, we could even offer residencies to other writers on a short term basis.

Diane and I keep debating where to locate such a place, but the truth is that the best solution is a whole lot of them in a lot of different towns, preferably networked.

This would help some of the vulnerable among the writers and other creators we know -- the people producing fine work who lack well-off spouses, accommodating day jobs, and other ways of supporting themselves. (So few of us can make a lot of money writing, and some of the people doing the best work are making the least income.) And it could also provide a decent living situation for many of us as we get older and need some support from our friends to deal with daily life.

This is very much just in the talking stage right now, but the ideas aren't proprietary: Anyone can pick up on this and run with it. There's more than one way to do it, and I'd love to see a variety of places around the country.

The other thing I'm part of that sounds familiar from your post is Book View Cafe. We're a consortium or collective or cooperative of experienced writers publishing online and trying to find ways to continue writing careers in this ever-changing world. To some degree, all creative persons are vulnerable in the current world, because all of us, even those with fat book contracts (very few of us) are subject to the whims of the big corporations. The more things we can do for ourselves, the less vulnerable any of us will be.

Andrea Hairston said...

Perhaps we could do a panel on this next year at Wiscon?
The COOP idea was something running around in my head, but I hadn't defined it yet at all. That is, how do we use our collective force to support our values and our artistic wealth? How do we negotiate the economic challenges?

Nancy Jane Moore said...

A WisCon panel is a good way to get things moving along. We could talk about writer's communities, co-op publishing, online publishing, new takes on the small press, networking among a variety of groups, etc., etc.