This weekend I was in NYC, at the Calliope Writers’ workshop. The Calliope Writers’ workshop, supported by the Talliesin Nexus and Liberty Island is a writers’ workshop.
If you’re saying “what, another one?” well… yes. But it is much more too.
For the writers’ workshop part, I would encourage any of you, even those already making a living from writing, who WISH to make a greater living and who are “liberty minded” to apply and see if you get in. The catch there is that it’s very … exclusive. I was going to say “demanding.” In 18 years of teaching, judging contests, etc, it was the first time I was confronted with writers who were thoroughly professional and whom I was supposed to advise.
Was I able to help them improve? I think so. Mind you, one can even help one’s peers, because the blind spots are always different; that is the point of writers’ groups, after all. But there were other things I could give them insight into. When you’ve been 20 years in the field, you’ve been 20 years in the field. Not only have you managed your career and seen it rise and fall, but you’ve seen freinds establish careers and come and go. Which brings us to things like “You’re not actually writing fantasy, you’re writing alternate history” or… other things. You can help less experienced authors focus and go where they need to be. Hopefully.
But what floored me and to an extent confused me (besides being exhausted, yesterday) and will take me months to potentially process is this: I cam out of it with a changed perspective on the field, on my career, on the future.
One of the speakers, I don’t remember who — because I didn’t take notes, just soaked it in — said this was the beginning of creating connections and structures of mutual help for libertarians and conservatives. (More libertarian than conservative, but none of them crazy, that I could see.) The left has always had their structures of help, their prestigious workshops, their sympathetic agents and publishers. And before the other side sneers “always” — yes, always, since the beginning of popular mass publishing, give or take. Certainly all my life and I’m more than half a century old (barely) so for our purposes and for purposes of the entertainment, news, industrial complex “always” — so that they can speak power to truth and continue yelling that they’re oppressed, even as they stomp hard on any dissent.
We who disagree need parallel structures.
And they’re right. And this workshop more than anything I’ve taken part in has convinced me we have a chance. I’m not a betting woman. If it weren’t for other considerations, like love of country and love of liberty, I wouldn’t have thrown my lot in with this lot publicly, years ago, not when I thought we’d less than 10% chance of taking back the culture (or at least achieving parity) in my lifetime.
I didn’t think so, at least until this weekend. Yes, yes, guys, in the long run we win they lose. The technology is going our way, and besides, they are like elves. They can imitate and exploit, but not really create. The “Mind killing” (their term) necessary to accept the shibboleths of the left leaves them unable to create even if they are creative and intelligent people (and many of them are.) They are so scared anything they say will get them thrown out of the cult it turns all their work into pap. Grey goo, if you wish. Which is why the new and exciting way of evaluating works as “Does this advance progressivism” was born. But that’s a digression.
I just thought it would take too long, and there would be a dark period of sorts before creators and builders could take over. And I also knew this might entail death to Western civ as such, because the left is a suicidal cult that destroys the culture from within, leaving us wide open to the incursions of the real barbarians.
The real barbarians can’t hold us. No, trust me. They can’t. But I thought in fact that we were at best sowing the seeds of victory in a real war our children and grandchildren would have to fight, both culturally and possibly physically.
Now I believe — or perhaps I gut-feel — we have a shot. Not a huge shot, particularly not the way the overculture (and politics) have entered their final suicidal form. But a shot of sorts.
There will still be a very bad period. We’ve bought ourselves that with our silence and acquiescence back in the bad old days when they had the megaphone and we were afraid to be considered stupid or worse. But I might see the other end of this before I die.
But if what kept us quiet before was the isolation, the utter isolation and thinking we were the only ones seeing the holes in ideology and news stories, if now we can communicate and organize, WHY didn’t I have hope until this weekend, not at a gut level?
One of the first answers is, I think, “Humans are social animals.” I knew almost all the mentors, and had brushed against some of the students on line. BUT that’s one thing. To be in a room with sixty people and be able to speak, be able to ARGUE without fear? That brings something home.
We’re all of us, despite this tenuous connection online, far too alone. Even for those employed in other fields, keeping your head down is the only alternative to being unemployed, because the shibboleths of the enemy hold the field, and it’s permissible to call those who disagree with you all sorts of names and impugn your character, and attack your livelihood. And we don’t realize how that takes that sense of being an outcast into our very souls.
I’ve spoken before of Lloyd Biggle Jr’s The Still Small Voice of trumpets. Without spoilering (you should read it) when an artist displeased the king for any reason or no reason at all, their arm was cut off and they were sent away to the “camps of amputees.” The culture was such it couldn’t stand ugliness and worshiped beauty. And their musical instruments were… harps. Once your arm was off, you were done. You were isolated. Your very “deformity” made you invisible. Until someone invented trumpets. Then the worship of beauty forgave the deformity.
In many ways we who are to the right of Lenin in publishing have been like that. We were told we had “bad numbers” or simply never bought again and people were left to assume we had bad numbers. And we disappeared. Our only existence was as “invisible” has beens. Our voices had no place in national dialogue. And even as publishing runs headed for the cellar, the “king” told us it was other reasons: games, videos at home, all sorts of reasons. Anything but the fact that science fiction and fantasy had become purulent patronizing pap.
But ah, we do have the internet. We have indie publishing. And now that we’ve crawled out of the basement (or left the camp of the untouchables our cloaks floating behind us, our trumpets sounding) to ground zero, other people think it is worth to establish a beach head. A counterculture insurgency. And they’re willing to spend time and money on changing the culture, so that in twenty years politics too will be different.
And being there, at the center of it, you could feel the currents and the energy.
We might win, or we might lose. But life, Liberty and this constitutional Republic we inherited are worth fighting for.
I’ve got my trumpet. I came back with endless sheet music. Things that must be written and other things. Things I must to do facilitate connections and ease paths as mine could not be eased. Because now it’s different and we have a chance.
Sound the trumpets. We declare the revolution.