A guest post in the Gertrude Stein Blog Series by Troy Palmer.
As much as I love lists (and I do), this won't be a "how to be a Literary Citizen" type of post. 10 things you absolutely need to do to right this second to prove your literary citizenship. 15 million ways to be a better literary citizen. This won’t be that. Because chances are if you're here now, reading this, you're already doing enough to be a model literary citizen. Here’s what I mean:
I consider myself a writer, but truth is I spend a far greater amount of time these days editing, publishing and promoting short stories and short story writers. But aside from submissions, I don't read far enough. Or much at all. It's embarrassing really. But I don't think that makes me any less of a literary citizen. On a side note, I tend buy a fair number of books, I just don’t read them all.
Let’s see, what else…
I have a Goodreads profile that I can confidently say I have used at least once. Maybe.
I have subscribed to many journals and claimed memberships to a few literary organizations. And I have let many of those subscriptions and memberships run out. Lapse. Entirely.
I do attend readings and book and journal launches, but many more go on without my presence than with.
I have downloaded a handful of literary apps and could best describe my use of them as “consistently waning.” Again, the whole lapsed subscription thing comes into play.
I have also signed up for a number of literary newsletters. My engagement with these is at least a little better. At least for now it is.
So does any of this make me any less of a literary citizen? I might be biased when it comes to the judging of me, but I don't think so.
What I do think, is that what we're all doing here kind of goes beyond a simple description and a label. It’s bigger than that, even in the smallest of gestures. We’re creating a culture. Whether you’re writing, reading, editing, reviewing, or publishing. Even if you’re not doing any of those things. Maybe you just follow the Renegade Writers’ Collective on Twitter (if not, you should). Or The Millions. Or you subscribe to the Rumpus newsletter. It might not seem like much, but it counts. There’s a line in Ben Marcus’ The Age of Wire and String — “There is no larger task than that of cataloging a culture” — and it’s bang on. Because a culture isn’t made from a “defining” book or a “seminal” piece of writing. It’s made from many things and the things in between those things. It’s made from you. It’s made from me. All of us, us literary citizens of now.
As you were.