Sunday, September 23, 2012

Necessary Steps Part I

Beginning with initial objectives the ULA would need to have as an organization:

I.) Destroy the False Narrative About Us.

Meaning, destroy Tom Bissell’s narrative that we’re bad writers, This, I’m in the process of doing. I won’t cease until that biased essay is shattered in tiny pieces across the landscape.

II.) Create a New Narrative.

We’ll need to discuss what that narrative is going to be. There’s ample space in the literary world for us to occupy, despite the mass of other writers. In a separate post I’ll discuss the possibilities.

III.) Ideas.

The battle for American literature is a battle of ideas. Having new ideas presents us as the New, and distinguishes us from all other writers groups and writers.

In this regard, we need to fully embrace the concept of literary democracy, which means leveling the literary playing field and giving DIY/outsider writers access to mainstream publicity.

IV.) Create Flagships.

We never had this in our glory days, other than near the end with ULA Press. There are a number of possibilities, which is something else I’ll discuss later. The revived ULA site and temporary focal points like this blog can serve in the interim.

V.) Create a Compelling Image.

This will go side by side with a new narrative and set talking points, so that what we present to the outside world, whatever our differences and variety, will appear as a unified piece. We were perceived as one thing before, of course, but it was made into a caricature of us, to become to clueless literary writers eager to dismiss anything opposed to their schooling as a stereotype. We’ll need an image and narrative which will draw young readers and writers to our cause. The ULA’s DIY/outlaw substance and history is the foundation of this. We only need to focus it more effectively.

We need to be a cultural movement, and a collection of writers, with which people want to identify. Our opponents would think this a great leap! But they can’t see America and America’s literature clearly.

VI.) Present Better Writing and Striking Personalities.

That our writing isn’t as bad as the system’s writing is no longer an option for us. We need, all of us, to pick up our game. Our writing has to be better. New recruitment has to be better—and we need new writers willing to adapt, in the short-term, to our guidelines and needs. We can’t be less professional than our rivals.

This isn’t to say we want bland hipster figures or bland “literary” hipster writing. No way. We do what we do, be who we are, but in an even more striking more dynamic way. The status quo has taken faulty artistic ideas as far as they can, with pronounced built-in limitations. Wherever we are now, because we have better fundamentals, we have greater upside.


I can say here only enough to whet the blog reader’s appetite.

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