I’m thinking about literary citizenship. It’s something we discussed in grad school, and I see it addressed in articles written by writers that pass through my Twitter feed. It’s not complicated: Support writers. Support writing. Writers are encouraged to subscribe to literary magazines as one way of being a good literary citizen. And this makes sense because lit mags need more money pretty much all the time and because subscribing to magazines in which you would like to be featured enables you to become much more familiar with the kind of work the editors publish.
And then there are those of us who put tape over the ink level sensors in our printers because we need to use every drop before we are forced to lay out the cash for a new toner cartridge.
How can we, the not so financially stable, be good literary citizens?
One thing I do is to submit my work to the occasional contest in which the submission fee includes a subscription to the magazine. Lots of magazines do this now. If they aren’t poor themselves, they know that many good writers and readers are. They make it easier to be a part of the community.
Another thing I do is follow writers and magazines on Twitter. Tons of stories, poems, and essays as well as writing tips and opportunities are posted for free everyday. It’s a great way to stay current and maybe build more of a community where you live. You can reciprocate by retweeting these things so that even more people can see them. I am a serious retweeter. I don’t care what genre it is or if it even interests me. Somewhere among my followers is someone who will appreciate the information. It’s an easy good deed that counts.
I haven’t done this yet, but I’ve heard of people having lit mag gatherings where everyone brings over a stack from their collection and trades with or borrows from each other. It’s a way of checking out other options to see which places might interest you when you do have money. (Just putting that intention for prosperity out there because it’s the new moon and we are not available for a lifetime of poverty, Universe.)
I think just talking about writing contributes even though it may not show much on a spreadsheet. I’m in a book club. Sometimes I buy the books and sometimes I get them from the library. The writers whose work we discuss in my book club don’t know we are talking about them. However, I like to think that the electricity created between people who love books also contributes to the overall good. And whenever a book club comes up in conversation with others, everybody asks: “What are you reading?” If you don’t agree, feel free to pay for me to attend AWP next year and we’ll just call it even.
The wi-fi I use is included with the rent (although my landlord refers to it as “free”). Until I want to replace my cat hair-covered laptop, it doesn’t cost me anything to promote writers and writing here. So, that’s something I plan to do a lot more of. Many of us are struggling financially and trying to figure out how to keep writing while holding down tedious jobs that take too much and don’t give nearly enough. But we can still be good literary citizens. We are still a part of the community.
How do you maintain your writing life on the cheap? Below are some recent opportunities and items of interest I noticed:
Aerogramme’s Writing Studio
River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Contest
The New Yorker archives FREE all summer!
Race Issues in Workshop (NPR)
And this is what my book club is reading: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Happy New Moon!