Literary Citizenship with Walter Mason

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Today I attended the First Friday Club talk for members of the New South Wales Writers Centre. Today’s talk was about a subject near and dear to my heart, literary citizenship, and involved two people likewise near and dear to my heart, Walter Mason and Ashley Kalagian Blunt.

Walter Mason, as I have mentioned earlier, is a standout member of the Australian writing community. His generosity is legendary and his workshops never fail to inspire. Walter is one of the forerunners of a concept known as literary citizenship. It’s essentially the idea of looking after and promoting others in the writing community. This is especially important for the Australian writing community because we’re so small.

Walter wrote an article about literary citizenship quite sometime ago which has been reprinted and reblogged many times. You can find the article here. The article recommends that to be a good literary citizen you should attempt to do the following 7 things:
Buy new books and read them
Get your books at a bookshop
Be a fan
Go to author events
Subscribe to a literary mag
Be a campaigner
Embrace generosity

This article has inspired many people, including myself, especially with the idea of fandom. I am a fan! As well as author Sharon Livingstone who was in the audience as she is a fellow acolyte of Walter, and also Ashley Kalagian Blunt, program officer at the New South Wales Writers Centre, who has an article coming out in this months News Write on her attempt to utilise Walter’s principles for a full year. Some she found easy to take on board, others she struggled with more so. Keep an eye on your mailbox and make sure you read all about it when your copy of News Write comes OR subscribe to the New South Wales Writers Centre newsletter.

I was very flattered when not only both Walter and Ashley mentioned my name as a person who was a good literary citizen but so did author Sharon Livingstone from the audience. She says she likes my author memes. Which is great because I love making them. Walter mentioned my recaps of The Book Club ABC hosted by Jennifer Byrne, another labour of love. I tell you what, if my two greatest loves – Walter Mason and JByrne’s Book Club – could combine I would pass out in ecstasy. And it was really nice to know I’m not the only one who enjoys what I’m doing. They used those things as examples of bringing your own unique spin to being a fan. It was a lovely surprise to be mentioned.

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It was a really great talk and I do urge you to do a future course with Walter because he is such an inspirational teacher and I hope to see you all next month at the First Friday Club. Especially Dr Crisetta MacLeod, who I sat next to and whispered the most hilarious commentary in my ear, Sharon Livingston who is even more entertaining in person than she is on twitter, and Nat Bayley who I also got to meet.

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8 responses »

  1. Oh, I really like this. I’ve noticed myself desiring to be a good literary citizen without knowing what to call it. This is a solid direction to take. I’m going to follow these tips so I can be a top lit citizen! Thanks for posting!

  2. Fantastic idea – I’m always quite horrified by how few people are as book-obsessed as I am, and how few writers actually read the books of others. From now on I will be re-doubling my efforts to support fellow-writers.

    The Melbourne Writers Festival is on this week so I’ll be hanging around there again this year…

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