So we know that more men get published, reviewed, and read, than female writers. And we know that few books from poor countries are published or translated. We also know most writers are not paid for the work they do, and that many books aren’t written because some people are too busy trying to stay alive. We know what the problems are – but what could a just writing world look like? How would it work? Here are some ideas:
- Work and labour would be more equally distributed amongst us all, and the unnecessary or counter-productive work gotten rid of (eg advertising, manufacturing plastic toys that break quickly, etc) so that we all have quality time each week to think, write, discuss, learn an instrument, meet, or whatever.
- Likewise, other basic human rights would be available to all – education, health, housing – so that we all are able to write, if we want to.
- There would be local community magazines and libraries (digital, print – short stories, poems, novels etc) through to regional and global ones. Committees of writers would be democratically elected to these magazine and publishing boards to be editors. They’d choose a selection of work each day to be available to everyone – based on anonymous submissions. That is, they would choose work entirely based on the quality of the writing, rather than based on class, gender, race, celebrity status or fame, academic record, and especially not based on marketability. This would increase writers’ motivation to produce quality, critical, and socially useful writing, rather than what sells, and would no doubt see more equality in the types of people published. Annual elections of editors would be based around collective discussions about what sort of writing is useful, artful, creative, and needed, and would also ensure that editors are accountable to the public.
- There’d be writing groups for sharing writing, critiques, support, and techniques
- Digital and physical book libraries would of course be free, and awesome places to hang out (I’m thinking cake, chocolate, beanbags, hammocks, and colourful walls painted by local artists). Libraries could include writers’ tools, like computers.
- Writers’ organisations would constantly work on ensuring that writing, a cultural service, is recognised and encouraged, and the conditions to guarantee that writing is a possibility for anyone who wishes to do it, are there.