by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
2016 began with the establishment of the WWS Leadership Team who worked together on debut presentations for AWP16, BinderCon Los Angeles, and MixedRemix Festival. Thanks to our WWS Chapter Director, Ashaki Jackson, we welcomed new chapters in New York City, NY, Grand Forks, ND, Seattle, WA, and Oaxaca City, MX as well as other locations across the country. In September, we celebrated our 3rd Annual WWS Submission Blitz where over 100 women participated remotely and submitted to top tier journals with over 20 women joining the LA meet up at the Faculty Bar. We held five private submission parties hosted by LA members, and new this year, we held our bimonthly new member orientations at different art and literary centers across the city. In February we met at Libros Schmibros in Boyle Heights with guest speaker, Tammy Delatorre, who shared strategies for contest submissions, April was dA Center for the Arts in Pomona with Cati Porter talking about directing Inlandia Institute and creating Poemeleon, a journal of poetry, June was Antioch University in Culver City with Pamela Redmond Satran speaking about the road to becoming a successful professional writer, October was Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center in Venice Beach with Siel Ju sharing tips for finding an agent, and finally this month at Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park, Sara Novic skyped in from Cincinnati, OH to talk about writing and activism post election.
Sara Novic, author of Girl at War (Random House 2015), is a writer, editor and activist. A deaf writer, she often uses her talents to pen essays on important issues within the deaf community. After the election, while most of us were still in shock, she wrote this piece for Vice. She is also the fiction editor for Blunderbuss Magazine that wants “to battle for a radical empathy” and has begun working on a new activist project tracking Donald Trump’s illegal business dealings. From Follow the Money: “The concept is simple: each time the President-Elect’s business dealings present a conflict that might prevent him from choosing to put the best interests of the country first, we write a letter.”
While speaking to us through Skype, members asked Sara questions such as, What is your process for writing about topics that make you angry? She shared that she first writes out all the angry feelings and then revises. She begins with writing in long-hand, which helps her process, and before submitting a piece of work, she gives it to her close friend who writes advocacy pieces for the gay community to read for notes. She shared that they often give each other their angry stuff. Leadership team member, Rachael Warecki, thanked Sara for spending time with us and for talking about deaf and special needs issues, since these communities are often left out of minority representation and solidarity discussions that focus more on LGBTQ, POC, and women’s rights. “Right?!” said Sara. Another member asked her process for public speaking. She said she had hoped writing would be a way out of public speaking but realized when her debut novel was released that it was a major part of the business. In the end, she shared she does not like public speaking but has since realized that as the author at an event, “You are your own protagonist.”
For 2017, we at WWS encourage you to be your own protagonist. Create work and actions that help better our society, and be a hero for your communities.