Erin Hollowell: A Family Affair

One month. I’ve been Executive Director of 49 Writers for
one month. During that time, I’ve been tasked with updating our database. Transferring
the information from one donor management software that was no longer available
into another. It doesn’t sound like a sexy job does it? It doesn’t sound like a
lot of fun, spending hours mapping fields, shaping data?

Such meticulous attention to detail is never very fun for
creative types. We most often like brilliant broad strokes. But I have been
enjoying checking the records; going through the database is very much like
reading a Russian novel, a tangle of names and faces who are familiar. I run
across a young writer that I met just a few weeks ago and enjoyed immensely. I
follow down the column to a man who once encouraged me to write more. Here is a
friend who I see once a year at the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference. Then
someone that I have never met but whose writing I have long admired. All of the
names mingling together, a strong and vibrant family of Alaskan writers.

Family. In my heart, my goal for 49 Writers is that it be
like a large extended family. One in which every member reaches out to the
others to support, to guide, to cheer on. When I came to Alaska, I had buried
my dream of being a poet. It seemed impossibly remote, impossibly unrealistic.
But through the gentle persuasion of many people along the way, I dedicated
myself to doing whatever it took to learn my craft. And I’m still learning.

I was recently quoted in a lovely article in the Juneau
Empire, “Part of being a writer is being a good literary citizen, and part of
being a good literary citizen is generosity.” I believe that with all my heart.
My role as ED at 49 Writers is the mark of my commitment to living that ideal.

What would it look like if we put away competition and took
up generosity? Would more people be able to put pen to paper? Get the
stories/poems/plays/novels/words that are in their heads out into the world? Would they
feel more comfortable taking a class because they’d know they would be
supported? Would they know in their hearts, truly know, that their writing is
important? I hope so. Because otherwise, there are a lot of people out there
who want to write, but never do. And when they are gone, their words are gone
with them, forever. Trust me, we can’t afford to lose one precious word. The heart of
the world depends on all of them.

take care,

1 thought on “Erin Hollowell: A Family Affair”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    I love the comparison of 49W with family — and also the recent email that promoted the "5 for 5" concept of bringing 5 new friends into the organization to celebrate 49W's 5th anniversary. Thanks for an inspiring blogpost, Erin.

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