January 21, 2010

"I'm holding on too tight. I've lost the edge."

I admit it. I love Top Gun. There's so much wrong with it, I know this. But I saw it as a kid, completely fell in love with Tom Cruise and/or Meg Ryan, and I get a kick out of the soundtrack.

I thought of Cougar's lines yesterday when I received an email from a fellow Amsterdam writer who runs workshops in town. Over the years I've tried to build a circular network with her, to no avail. She refuses to have anything to do with us. The only time she ever did was when we created "lit goodie bags" for the now (sadly) extinct Amsterdam Literary Festival. We offered every organizer in the community a chance to add something to the bag, so she jumped right in.

With our renewed initiatives to keep the local literary community here strong and healthy, I thought it would be a good time to try her again. I emailed her asking if she might consider adding a link to our site, and threw in a note about the great community we share and how we can work together to keep it alive and well. About a week later, I got her reply (yesterday):

Dear Megan,

Sorry, but I don't list other workshops on my site; and the only links are to writing experiences that I've had personally or non-profit writing organisations.

Hope to see you soon.

All best,
Jane Doe

Seriously? When did wordsinhere become "other workshops"? I know she knows better. That's when I thought of Cougar. She's holding on so tightly to what she perceives as her own square centimeters of this literary community. And it's a shame, because community doesn't work like that, at least not how I read it. Writers should be able to move around as they like, and should be given the information to do so. It's not an "us and them" thing, at least it shouldn't be.

It reminds me of one of the first meetings I had with another literary organization when wordsinhere was first getting off the ground back in 2002. I contacted the Dutch organization that promotes translation (into and from Dutch) and had a coffee with its director. I told him about our plans to start an international literary stage (the now-extinct Open Stanza, which ran from 2002-2007), and he looked at me with great confusion and said something like, "I don't understand why you want to meet with me about this. We work with writers to translate their texts. You're an American. I don't see the correlation between what you're doing and what we're doing."


In my reply to Jane Doe, I pointed out that wordsinhere is non-profit but I wished her success with her work. Then I mentioned that at last weekend's literary borrel - a free event which we organized for anyone who wanted to come, to meet other writers and find out about some of the offerings in town - a woman came up to me and asked me if Jane Doe was there. The woman had heard about her workshops and wanted to know more. I told this woman that Jane Doe knew about the event, but I wasn't sure if she was coming.

In my reply to Jane Doe's dismissal, I wrote, "At our last literary borrel someone asked if you were there. It's a shame there isn't more connectedness in this community, you may have been able to garner some more clients."

Yeah, I have my limits.

[Cut to Meg Ryan and Goose, great balls of fire.]

1 comment:

  1. I was so impressed with the crowd at the borrel. Cheers!