Sunday, September 30, 2012


I'VE ENGAGED in a few email conversations with a former ULA member who is distinctly negative toward the idea of bringing back the ULA. His argument consists of meaningless platitudes. "It's over. The past is the past. You can't bring the ULA back."

Statements which mean nothing in and of themselves. One can, or can't, bring anything back, depending on how hard you work toward it. My attitude is: Why not? If the project was worth doing once, it's worth doing again.

We actually have more of a foundation now, more of a starting point. With ULA 1.0 we started from nowhere and with nothing.

Study of history shows that wars or movements never ended with one battle. There was always someplace an Imperial City beseiged by hungry barbarians. If knocked-down once, they'd try again.

What should matter to us is the risk-reward ratio. I'm of the mind that there's no risk to another ULA campaign. We're already shut out. Present methods if employed for another hundred years aren't going to work. Today, with a million-plus writer-wannabe competitors, a Twitter account and Facebook page mean nothing. We need to find shortcuts.

The potential reward, on the other hand, is tremendous. Rewriting literary history. Renewing the art. Doing this by being the most exciting and important literary group.

What's stopping us? Not a whole helluva lot. A paper-thin facade. The established literary world is weak and they know they're weak. With the rise of indy ebooks, conditions are more promising for drastic change than they were in 2001. The status quo is moribund. Its advocates are chained to an unwanted style of art, the "literary" story or poem which only well-indoctrinated writing-school grads can appreciate; whose audience is becoming increasingly narrow. The entire system is sustained by artificial props. It's up to us to knock out those props.


JeffOYB said...

A meetingplace for another way.

Might be all it takes.

Might be a good indicator, if anyone seems to appreciate it.

What does it mean to knock out the props beneath the old way? The old way is "NYC vs MFA." (Ha, it's new to them!) If we promote a real "Occupy Writing: Beyond NYC/MFA," a homebase to share notes about a different kind of reading that might do the trick.

Outsider Writers is a nifty meetingplace for writers. It's had good activity, quite a few members. Cool.

I'd like to see if a similar concept (maybe just as a forum) geared to readers and critics can create some synergy/buzz.

Karl's right: a man alone don't stand a chance. We gotta keep trying new ways of grouping up until the synergy sparks.

Book clubs are gatherings of readers, a huge national thing. Sure, there's writers groups, too. Time to test a populist readers meetingplace... Maybe it can influence some book-clubs, among other things.

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Jeff, I'd be aiming a helluva lot higher than that!
Twenty years ago I belonged to a chess club. A hobbyist group. So I've been there, done that.
Outsider Writers-- which I "joined" for a time (joining it was meaningless)-- wasn't nifty and it wasn't cool. It was a complete and total failure.
The reason was that it was satisfied with low goals-- in fact, no goals. It asked for no commitment and thereby received no commitment. We need to understand its failure in the same way we need to understand ULA 1.0's ultimate failure. No "trying" until by some miracle the synergy sparks. Instead, focused and planned from day One.
The attention ULA received wasn't an accident.
A forum could be useful-- if it's thought-out beforehand. If it's part of a deliberate plan. If it's intentionally focused. Slapdash doesn't work. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm done with that way of doing things.
The objective of any new ULA that I participate in will have to be as I've already stated. To be not just any (of thousands) book clubs or writers groups, but instead to be THE writers group.

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Or, if I'm going to once again invest a major part of my energy and time into a project, there's no "might be."
As I'll explain in an upcoming post, there are very few routes on the literary chess board for us to take. We'll have to plot out that path, then follow it in a disciplined and well-coordinated way.
Explorers to the poles a hundred years ago didn't say this "might be" the way. They had maps, plans, and a disciplined team. We'll need all of that to reach the destination.