Literary Citizens Also Need to Write


The writing community has lately been buzzing with literary citizenship—attending readings, writing reviews, supporting other writers with blurbs or buying their books (preferably from independent bookstores). But not everyone is happy with the literary estate’s citizenship requirements. Last month, Becky Tuch warned against devaluing writing as labor. Now Lisa Marie Basile, writing over at The Flexist, is chastising writers so concerned with obtaining good standing within the literary community, they forget to actually write:

You have to love to write. You have to be “in it” for the writing–not just the clicks, likes, shares and that ever-growing bio. You have to be able to sort of ignore the not-so-quiet competition, the nepotism, and the idea of poetic celebrity (you know–you walk into a reading and three of the four readers masturbate one another while simultaneously taking very glamorous photos that end up cycling throughout the same crowd) with, you know, actually writing.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →