You may have seen my post on Tuesday announcing We Were Emergent a new anthology of writing by people aged 18-25 (or 16-27!) that Kevin and I are putting together.
But… Why? Why do this?
It started when we were teaching fiction writing while we were MFA students at the University of Florida and found ourselves constantly surprised by what our students would bring in to workshop. Most of the students wouldn’t go on to have writing careers, or even continue writing after college, but for that one semester, they were writers, and they sent their stories off like bottle rockets. A quick burst, and then—
The world is full of discouragement for young writers. And even when an institution opts to celebrate them, the word young is stretched to its limits. When The New Yorker celebrates young writers it’s in their list of twenty writers under forty. We’re guessing most are pushing 40. Where’s the 20 under 30? The 20 under 20? Is there really nothing praiseworthy being written by people before they hit the age of 30?
Let’s not let lit be only the realm of the old or the rich. Let’s not heed society who says there’s no money in writing. There isn’t—but so what. Has anyone seen what money’s done to us? How the water is rising and the banks are crashing?
I’ve been reading the new Will Oldham on Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy book and am flabbergasted at how cool and collaborative the music world is. I felt this same way when reading the 33 1/3 book about In The Aeroplane Over the Sea and the Elephant 6 Collective. Musicians create together, live together, travel together… Where can you find that vibe for writers? In MFA programs somewhat. And I think tumblr sometimes gives me the same feeling. That I can make writing and give it to you instantly, while at the same time seeing what you just put out there for the world. You’re not here. I’m not there. We’re not in a van together. But we are, somehow, together.
So let’s make a playlist of new writing by new writers and release it to the world. (I apologize, of course, to the adults in the room—but that’s not what this one’s about.)
Young people have always made hit singles. We believe they can make stories too. If what we get is amazing, we’ll print a book or try to sell it to a publisher. And maybe we’ll press a couple of writers reading their stories to vinyl—A&B sides on a run of 45s. Yeah? Let’s do this thing. Come visit!