- From the Book & New Media Review Editor's Desk
Writing marathons are a staple ritual of National Writing Project (NWP) sites and I have been fortunate enough to find myself as a faculty member at two universities with thriving NWP sites and regular writing marathons. At the most recent writing marathon I attended at Oakland University, I knew none of the participants and few of the campus landmarks where the writing commenced. Nonetheless, the sense of community created through the familiar ritual of hearing the facilitator utter the simple words "thank you" to each writer, after they shared a snippet, triggered memories of marathons in which I've participated previously.
After the final read-around at the close of the marathon, one participant offered that she self-publishes her writing on FictionPress and shared her pen name. Given that this special issue focuses on self-publishing, I find myself increasingly attentive to the give-and-take exchanges that occur in born-digital writing communities such as FictionPress, Scribophile, and Wattpad. I am also increasingly aware of how print-on-demand services, such as Lulu.com, offer communities of writers the means to share their work, expanding the breadth of hybridized publishing exchanges.
Rachael Wendler Shah's review of Paul Feigenbaum's Collaborative Imagination illuminates the concept of the "collaborative imagination" by describing it as a communalist hybridization of "utopian thinking and practical action." Community-based writing and publishing combine the utopian hopefulness that through showing up and writing with others we might have—as reviewer Marissa Juárez notes in her review of Ashley Holmes' Public Pedagogy in Composition Studies—critical, reciprocal, "meaningful, even transformative, learning experiences." As reviewer Kara Reed observes, the bigger goal of showing up and engaging in community writing work has implications "beyond personal transformation to social transformation of oppressive structures." We need to advance activism in ways that are attentive to what Rosanne Carlo identifies as the "complex ecologies" and Jessica Estep sees as the "discursive processes" through which we can imagine and enact social justice.
As I reflect on the book reviews and the keyword essay in this issue, the descriptive picture Eli Goldblatt paints of Hal Adams' impact on community-based writing and publishing with the Journal of Ordinary Thought (JOT) stands out as exemplary among many inspiring contributions. Serving as an instructive model of neighborhood writing and place-based publishing, we can anticipate that the JOT [End Page 87] archive will be digitized in the coming year by Annie Knepler, who gained from Adams' guidance and applied his methods to her own community writing groups. To quote Goldblatt and to provide room for the substantial contributions to this special issue, "I can't describe all its virtues for practitioners and theorists alike. You just need to read it." [End Page 88]