Blake Butler invited me to join the rowdy conversation over here in 2009. I was way older and different than most of the other contributors but they all welcomed me and what I had to say.
I got to start a Literary Magazine Club and we sure tried to make a go of it. I wrote about my homegirl Edith Wharton, sentimental women’s writing, interviewed or reviewed talented writers, gave space other writers write on talented writers, mused on writing a novel, accepted writing as a political act, considered diversity in the Best American series, and on and on. I have so many opinions and I will forever be grateful that I had this space to share them!
I wrote a lot here. I learned so much about how to argue, being criticized, developing a thicker skin, becoming a stronger writer, being more open minded, standing my ground. I am still a work in progress, but I’ve come so far because of HTMLGIANT. I have been exposed to writers, magazines, and presses I would have never known about and that are now part of my canon. I have met most of my closest friends through this place. Y’all, Mark Cugini, can I just shout him out? Every time I am in D.C. that man is there, the familiar face in the crowd. He, like so many others I have met through here, is tireless and awesome.
HTMLGIANT has its issues and they have been well-documented, particularly when it comes to sexism and racism. But the world is a difficult place. It would be strange to expect that this community, and it is, a community, would somehow rise above the world’s imperfections as a utopia. We are readers and writers and we are, perhaps, idealists. We want to be the best versions of ourselves. Wherever this community goes next, we will be better. I hope we will continue to reach for that better place where we act and think compassionately and intelligently about the differences between us.
I don’t have anything grand to say other than thank you to Blake and Gene for inviting me to share my voice here. Thank you, readers and commenters for supporting and challenging me and giving a damn about reading and writing. Thank you, all.