Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Erin Hollowell: A Family Affair

One month. I've been Executive Director of 49 Writers for one month. During that time, I've been tasked with updating our database. Transferring the information from one donor management software that was no longer available into another. It doesn't sound like a sexy job does it? It doesn't sound like a lot of fun, spending hours mapping fields, shaping data?

Such meticulous attention to detail is never very fun for creative types. We most often like brilliant broad strokes. But I have been enjoying checking the records; going through the database is very much like reading a Russian novel, a tangle of names and faces who are familiar. I run across a young writer that I met just a few weeks ago and enjoyed immensely. I follow down the column to a man who once encouraged me to write more. Here is a friend who I see once a year at the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference. Then someone that I have never met but whose writing I have long admired. All of the names mingling together, a strong and vibrant family of Alaskan writers.

Family. In my heart, my goal for 49 Writers is that it be like a large extended family. One in which every member reaches out to the others to support, to guide, to cheer on. When I came to Alaska, I had buried my dream of being a poet. It seemed impossibly remote, impossibly unrealistic. But through the gentle persuasion of many people along the way, I dedicated myself to doing whatever it took to learn my craft. And I'm still learning.

I was recently quoted in a lovely article in the Juneau Empire, “Part of being a writer is being a good literary citizen, and part of being a good literary citizen is generosity.” I believe that with all my heart. My role as ED at 49 Writers is the mark of my commitment to living that ideal.

What would it look like if we put away competition and took up generosity? Would more people be able to put pen to paper? Get the stories/poems/plays/novels/words that are in their heads out into the world? Would they feel more comfortable taking a class because they'd know they would be supported? Would they know in their hearts, truly know, that their writing is important? I hope so. Because otherwise, there are a lot of people out there who want to write, but never do. And when they are gone, their words are gone with them, forever. Trust me, we can't afford to lose one precious word. The heart of the world depends on all of them.

take care,

1 comment:

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

I love the comparison of 49W with family -- and also the recent email that promoted the "5 for 5" concept of bringing 5 new friends into the organization to celebrate 49W's 5th anniversary. Thanks for an inspiring blogpost, Erin.