To any of you who are feeling down, and saying, “Oh, no one’s reading anymore”: Walk into 826 on any afternoon. There are no screens there, it’s all paper, it’s all students working shoulder to shoulder invested in their work, writing down something, thinking their work might get published. They put it all on the page, and they think, “Well, if this person who works next to me cares so much about what I’m writing, and they’re going to publish it in their next anthology or newspaper or whatever, then I’m going to invest so much more in it.” And then meanwhile, they’re reading more than I did at their age. …Nothing has changed! The written word—the love of it and the power of the written word—it hasn’t changed. It’s a matter of fostering it, fertilizing it, not giving up on it, and having faith. Don’t get down. I actually have established an e-mail address, email@example.com—if you want to take it down—if you are ever feeling down, if you are ever despairing, if you ever think publishing is dying or print is dying or books are dying or newspapers are dying (the next issue of McSweeney’s will be a newspaper—we’re going to prove that it can make it. It comes out in September). If you ever have any doubt, e-mail me, and I will buck you up and prove to you that you’re wrong.
God bless Dave Eggers.
The study of English always seemed painfully disconnected from the spheres of "social-justice" and volunteerism that the social-sciences have appropriated as their own. I'm glad to know that this isn't true.
Have you ever volunteered (in all your infinite free-time) at 826? I've considered it, but haven't made it yet. It does seem like a brilliant way of campaigning for reading and writing at a grass roots level. Sad to think that those activities may need such a push.
I have no free time. None.
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