A Good Literary Citizen

Student blogger: Alicia Zuberbier

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs recently posted an article with questions writers should ask themselves. The first was “Are you a good literary citizen?” A citizen of literature isn’t someone who just writes. I cannot skim my transcript and claim citizenship only because I’ve completed my writing major. A hard drive full of poetry just won’t cut it.

A literary citizen is a consumer.  They partake of writing in more ways than just producing it. Thankfully, Milwaukee and Waukesha offer plenty of ways to do so. I personally love attending readings at Boswell Book Company, and Boswell has them all the time. They make authors easily accessible, and it’s a wonderful way to learn about local work. Woodland Pattern also offers readings, and Ex Fabula (out-loud story telling) is a fun way to hear the written word. On an even more local level, the Book Café holds open poetry readings, and Waukesha Reads has plenty of events, from movie screenings to book discussions.

If readings aren’t for you, literary journals are in need of volunteers. Cream City Review in Milwaukee has an internship program where you’ll learn how lit mags function. They always need readers during submission time, as well. Literary citizens subscribe to journals. For the circulation of writing to continue, we should pick up a lit mag now and then.

A literary citizen wants to do more for literature than just write. We need to support small book stores, journals, and other authors. We attend conferences, buy journals, and volunteer time. As good literary citizens, we contribute to the world in the hopes that others will join us and understand just how beautiful the written word can be.

Ex Fabula Story Slam coming up!

Wednesday is the next Ex Fabula Story Slam.  The theme is “Off the Record.”  If you’re brave enough to try, practice your five minute true story that fits into the “Off the Record.”  If, like me, you’re not brave enough to tell your own story, you can relax and listen to the funny and moving stories of other.  Here’s the description from Ex Fabula:

Ex Fabula StorySlam: “Off the Record”

It’s about time for another round of true and personal community stories, don’t you think? Not to worry though, nothing you say can be held against you because this month we’re going off the record!Join Ex Fabula on Wednesday, November 13 for “Off the Record,” our 2nd StorySlam of the season. This time around we’ll be downtown at Lucille’s Piano Bar, 1110 N Old World 3rd Street. Tickets are $7 (cash only, please) and the show starts at 7:30, with doors opening at 6:30 so you can grab good seats and good drinks in time for the stories.
Hope to see you there! 

Words That Inspire Us

What I love about going to readings is that they always remind me that there’s so much great writing in the world, and it’s so easy to find.  So I though that this might be a great place for us  to share the  writing that we admire.  One of my favorite writers is American novelist and essayist James Baldwin.  For years, I had this quote from “Notes of a Native Son” taped to the wall over my desk:

It began to seem that one would have to hold in the mind forever two ideas which seemed to be in opposition.  The first idea was acceptance, the acceptance, totally without rancor, of life as it is, and men as they are: in the light of this idea, it goes without saying that injustice is a commonplace.  But this did not mean that one could be complacent, for the second idea was of equal power: that one must never, in one’s own life, accept these injustices as commonplace but might fight them with all one’s strength.

Who are the authors who’ve inspired you?  Click on the comments link above and add a quote from an author whom you admire.

Why Write?

Student blogger: Amanda Reimer

The first time I told my father I wanted to be a writer, he said, “Why am I paying $40k a year for you to study writing?  What kind of career can that get you?”

This response is not uncommon.  For many writers, the choice to declare a writing major proves difficult because others tell us that writing is not a worthwhile path.  While it may be true that writing does not offer the greatest monetary gain, it would be absurd to declare writing worthless.  Writing offers pleasure to both readers and writers alike.

There is something inherently beautiful about placing words upon paper.  Place them one way and you can bring a smile to the faces of readers, place them another way and bring tears to their eyes.  The relationship between reader and writer is perhaps the most fascinating exchange, as it allows information to travel in both aesthetically and euphoniously pleasing manners.  Plus, there is a deeply humanistic sense of fulfillment in sharing knowledge with others that only writing can quench.

As Truman Capote put it, “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.” So, to those who struggle with whether to become writers, I say write not because you want a career, write for the love of words and the beauty of sharing knowledge.  To those who became writers, keep playing your music.