It’s no secret that the writing community is much different from other professional realms; our work is endless, unsure, and often, thankless. There’s truly nothing to be done for these faults, every one of us signs up for possible rejection and feelings of failure when we decide to share our work with the world. One thing about the community of writers, readers, and editors that I have come to truly appreciate is the sense of literary citizenship. In a world that values competition over collaboration, the idea of literary citizenship offers a sense of warmth and comfort and, in my personal opinion, should be shared with as many members of the community as possible.
The concept of literary citizenship is that, through encouragement and networking, members of the writing community can help one another turn out more and more quality literature, which, in turn, inspires other members of the community to contribute even more. Supporting fellow artists and spreading the word of their work only serves to expand the reach of their ideas and, in this way, it fosters camaraderie among the community, rather than the competition that writers, unfortunately, tend to lean toward.
Undergraduate literary journals, such as our own Gandy Dancer, serve as a stage; a place for up-and-coming writers and artists to share their work on a more widespread level, but we need an audience. Being a literary citizen means reading our peers’ work, asking questions, attending readings, and, most importantly, supporting ourselves by supporting one another.