On Genuine Literary Citizenship

September 26, 2011 § 5 Comments


We’ve talked in the past about literary citizenship: the importance of giving back to the world of journals, books, and other literary venues if you hope eventually to thrive within that world. Author/editor Matt Bell, interviewed by Ploughshares, reminds us again, clearly and articulately:

I think the big mistake most writers make is thinking that becoming involved in your community is something you do after your book is published. Instead, I urge writers to become involved as early as possible, in a genuine, non-book-related way. It’s always a little off-putting when a person suddenly becomes interested in book review venues only once they have their own book. In a similar way, it seems false to only be interested in independent bookstores when you’re trying to get your own book stocked. The better solution is, as a part of your daily work as a writer, support the communities you wish to be a part of, by reading books, writing reviews, promoting other writers or bookstores or whatever in your social networking. It’s a small but old truth, but the more you give, the more you will receive. And this isn’t any kind of slimy networking. This is every writer’s responsibility, and the writers who create the most buzz for the good work of others will find that same energy waiting for them, when their own excellent book finally comes out.

Bell’s full interview is well worth reading.

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§ 5 Responses to On Genuine Literary Citizenship

  • I like this. I think it’s the right approach.

    But there is the matter of time– especially for writers who are not employed to write or teach writing, who can’t kill a few extra birds with any wider literary writing they do, but who write outside of the other things they do. Sometimes it comes down to an hour writing the Book or an hour writing a review and you just have to choose what’s most critical.

    Sad truth.

  • […] On Genuine Literary Citizenship « BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog "I think the big mistake most writers make is thinking that becoming involved in your community is something you do after your book is published. Instead, I urge writers to become involved as early as possible, in a genuine, non-book-related way. It’s always a little off-putting when a person suddenly becomes interested in book review venues only once they have their own book. In a similar way, it seems false to only be interested in independent bookstores when you’re trying to get your own book stocked. The better solution is, as a part of your daily work as a writer, support the communities you wish to be a part of, by reading books, writing reviews, promoting other writers or bookstores or whatever in your social networking." […]

  • […] course on the topic and has aggregated what other writers have had to say. For instance, Matt Bell, Anna Leahy, and Blake […]

  • […] underscored what Matt Bell reminded us: “The better solution is, as a part of your daily work as a writer, support the […]

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