Author of Bad Endings
The literary scene is evolving, and we must keep up with these changes. Writing has always been political, but writers are now engaging with these politics in a conversation that can be heard on a grand scale, through social media. Voices that have been traditionally pushed to the margins are being heard. There is a greater diversity of writers being published, and appearing at festivals. For years, public writerly events have been a safe, sanitized space where discussions of creative process and inspiration have dominated the conversation. Literature is no longer a safe, sanitized space, and this is the best thing that's ever happened to it.
However, writers still deserve safety and support. Especially when they are speaking a truth that creates discomfort in listeners. Discomfort is a necessary part of growth, and literature is growing. Now, as the conversation grows and intensifies, we must recognize that the agents of change we so admire are still human, and susceptible to burnout. That it is not possible for certain writers to attend events that require charging advance expenses on a credit card. That writers who experience daily racism, transphobia, fat phobia, and institutions that ignore their disabilities are, to be frank, exhausted. And that these voices are the most exciting and powerful voices in literature today.
We need a community that functions as a skeleton, supporting the vital work of life. You decide whether you're a liver or a spleen, I don't care, but we need the bones. I'm not at all surprised that Chelene Knight has taken the first steps toward creating this necessary structural framework, and I hope writers, festival organizers, publishers, agents, and everyone who makes up our community will lend their support. This kind of change benefits us all.