The first time I encountered the term “literary citizenship”

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.

BREVITY's Nonfiction 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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Anna Leahy talks Lit Cit at Fiction Writers Review

Anna Leahy talks Lit Cit at Fiction Writers Review


Matt Bell describes Lit Cit

Matt Bell describes Lit Cit


Cathy Day’s principles of Literary Citizenship

LitCit

Sometimes I talk about these principles at writer-type gatherings.

Cross Post Alert: I published some initial thoughts and principles about literary citizenship, in March 2011 over at The Bird Sisters, writer Rebecca Rasmussen’s blog dedicated to artists and writers. I got a lot of my ideas from this post on the Brevity blog.

Literary Citizenship

I’ve been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years now, and here’s something I’ve observed: what brings most people to the creative writing classroom or the writing conference isn’t simply the desire to “be a writer,” but rather (or also) the desire to be a part of a literary community.
Deep down, we know that not everyone who signs up for the class or the conference will become a traditionally published writer. Well, so what? What if they become agents, editors, publishers, book reviewers, book club members, teachers, librarians, readers, or parents of all of the above?

Read the rest of this entry »


What is Literary Citizenship?

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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.
  • Teach.
  • 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.