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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.