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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Open Canon: IWSG September 2018



It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader. Co-Hosts this month: Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler.  To read posts from other members, click here.


Writers learn to write by writing. We also learn to write by reading which has never been a problem for me. Libraries and bookstores are among my favorite places, as well as the corner of the couch where I plunk myself down to start a new book. I’ve never belonged to a physical book group, but after learning the objectives for the Open Canon Book Club, I joined. Open Canon is an online group moderated by PhD professor Wiley Cash, author of A Land More Kind than Home, This Dark Road to Mercy, and The Last Ballad. 


We live in a time when appealing to and listening to the diversity of America's voices are more important than ever. The goal of the Open Canon Book Club is to introduce readers to voices and portrayals of the American experience they may not have otherwise encountered in their day-to-day lives, their education, or their book club meetings. Literary diversity plays a vital role in making us understood to one another, and this hope of understanding is the hinge upon which our democracy swings.

Regardless of our beliefs, most of us will agree we’re becoming more divided as a country. It has become acceptable for online communications with those with whom we disagree to become hostile. This, I think, has led to a general disrespect in how we treat folks in person. In the virtual world, interactions are layered with accusation and discord. We’ve lost our manners simply because the means to disagree in a public way is easy, immediate, and if we choose, anonymous. And once we act poorly online, doesn't it become easier to do so in person? Who cares if we talk on the phone rather than addressing the clerk while checking out at the grocery store? What's the big deal if we endanger others by texting while driving? Does it matter that we walk down city streets so immersed in our smart phones we miss the woman stumbling off the curb, the homeless veteran seeking spare change, or the lost stranger in need of directions?

Similar to IWSG, which focuses on kindness, caring and empathy, Open Canon proposes to use technology to promote a shared humanity. And in joining, there's an added benefit. Author Cash offers discussion points and companion readings for each month's selection as well as his own reflections on the writing in a section he calls Reading like a Writer: A Note from Wiley. So there you have it, a free learning venue composed of diverse perspectives, combined with educational observations on writing. What's not to like?

The online discussion of the first book, The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson takes place on September 26.

12 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We're more divided and more diverse at the same time now.
I agree totally with your assessment. It annoys me to no end to see someone chatter on the phone while ignoring the clerk or service person in front of her. What's sad is the next generation doesn't see that as rude...

Jan Morrison said...

Sounds a lovely idea. Yes, rudeness is rampant but there are oases of kindness to be found. We must find them and create them! Thanks for a thoughtful post.

Toi Thomas said...

Happy IWSG Day!

This sounds like a really good book club. If I wasn't already part of two others I'd totally join in, but I may still check out some of the titles you guys are reading.

As for the current state of the world, it's sad. The current generation and the next may never know just how far we'd come since we seem to be moving backward.

Joanne said...

sounds like you've found a good place to use your love of reading, writing, and discussion. I'm lucky with the book club I do belong to. We do discover and discuss a variety of positions, angles, and degrees of life in the fiction and non-fiction selections. I like being face to face and then there's snacks afterwards - a bonus!
In regards to this world - there is just no excuse for rudeness

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds like a great endeavour and there's no reason we can't use the virtual world as a positive force. Sadly it's all too often the other way.

mshatch said...

I could not agree more. As someone who grew up in the aftermath of the 60s, I find the rudeness most annoying.

Open canon sounds awesome. I am going to check it out. Thanks :)

Bish Denham said...

Ooo, I'm going to have to check this out. I often wonder what happened to our ability to civily debate our differences of opinion. Sadly I've come to realize that the "compromise" has become a dirty word, a word that means weakness. Where would this country be if the Founding Fathers had not been able to compromise?

Natalie Aguirre said...

Glad you've found a book club that's right for you. I've toyed with the idea but haven't been able to commit to reading a pre-picked book each month.

Susan Kane said...

Absolutely. Rudeness cuts across all parts and behaviors. I try not to react to it, and seek the higher ground.

I like how you analyze this problem. I enjoy your writing.

Connie said...

The online book club sounds like a great way to get differing perspectives on new and interesting literary choices. I agree with you that society as a whole is becoming less kind and more rude both online and in person.

Cathy Keaton said...

I say, be on the internet less and be in real life more because we feel like we can share our inner thoughts on-line for some reason. But, we'd never say those same things to anyone in-person because we have our society's politenesses to observe. The discord on-line is the result of that lack of filter we use when we speak to people face-to-face--without it we go to war! We need that filter or we just don't get along and world peace depends on being kind and polite.

Anne Doucette said...

That sounds like a really great group to be involved in. Thank you for sharing!
Anne from annehiga.com