It’s important to say this: I didn’t invent the term “literary citizenship.”
I first came across it in 2008 when Dinty Moore posted this link from the Brevity blog to Facebook, which linked back to Blake Butler’s blog.
Blake Butler, fictionist, blogged in a most excellent fashion recently about the need to be a positive karmic force in the world of literary citizenship. What comes around, goes around, he reminds us. Here’s an excerpt and a link to the full (albeit, oddly titled) post:
Here are some ways you can do more, outside of spending $$$.
(1) When you read something you like, in any form, write the author and tell them. You don’t have to gush or take forever. Just tell them you saw it, you read it, you liked it. It’s a supportive feeling. It’s better than not saying anything.
(2) Write reviews of books you like. Short review/long review, whatever. It’s not that hard. It takes a little work to think about it clearly, but what goes around comes around. You can’t expect to be recognized for your work if you aren’t recognizing others for…
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Advice to an Aspiring Author on How to Publish Your Book
by Shannon Cain
1.) Write well. Pursue this goal for about 10 or 20 years.
2.) Tend to your literary citizenship:
- Read. A lot.
- Subscribe to literary magazines.
- Buy books. Review them, and publish the reviews.
- Celebrate the achievements of your colleagues. Champion their work.
- Share your power.
- Donate to small presses. Volunteer. Join a governing board.
- Practice humility.
- In workshop, be patient and kind and truthful.
- Attend talks and conferences. Listen hard.
- Mentor a new writer. Be mentored.
- Be a good friend to other writers. Keep generosity in your heart.
3.) Realize that literary citizenship makes you a better writer. Know that the more you give, the more you get back. Forget about publishing. Just write. And give.
Shannon Cain’s story collection, The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, won the 2011 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. She is a manuscript consultant and teaches fiction in the MFA program at Bennington College. This advice appeared in the newsletter for Kore Press. Leslie Pietryzk noticed how awesome it was and blogged about it at Work-in-Progress.