As I write this, our esteemed incumbent President is running unopposed. I do not find this situation disagreeable for anything that Poetigress has done or not done in her year as President of the Guild. I find it disagreeable that I see little involvement from the membership. Allow me to remind the members of the definition of “guild.” Per Merriam-Webster online: “An association of people with similar interests or pursuits; especially : a medieval association of merchants or craftsmen.” In addition to this more romantic description, I also found the following definition: “An association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal.”
In my cursory glance over the debate of last year’s debate thread, I seemed to see a lot of “What’s in it for me” attitude. Forgive a gray muzzle for invoking a past, great, genuinely inspiring leader, but I offer this paraphrase: “Ask not what your guild can do for you, but what you can do for your guild.” Rather than asking what we can take, what if we look instead at what we can give?
I was once a member, in professional standing, with the National Writers Association, a venerable organization founded by (among other notables) Earle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason and other immortals. As part of my professional-level membership, I was allowed – not paid, not cajoled, not given a discount, but allowed – to be a volunteer critic. The membership office swiftly learned to send the most “hopeless cases” to me, as I infallibly found in every submission something to praise, encouragement to provide, and education in the sense of the Latin root “educare” – to lead. Therefore…
Proposal One: In the spirit of medieval guilds, FWG should allow and encourage their most supportive and benevolent crafts-furs to offer reading, encouraging critique, and supportive, constructive assistance to our members who may not yet be as sure-pawed as those of us who have been published for (in my case) over 35 years. That’s a lot of experience to offer.
Proposal Two: Let the guild offer this service, for a nominal fee (perhaps 1¢/word, with a $20 [2000 word] minimum, to NON-MEMBERS. The Guild will retain the fee, and volunteers will offer this same previously discussed critique in service to the Guild and its potential future members.
Proposal Two-and-a-Half: Got ideas for other things we could offer? Let’s hear 'em!
Proposal Three: Strive for a genuine presence at various fur-cons throughout the world… providing, of course, that we – the Guild – actually DO something. Begging the pardon of you all… I’ve heard FWG described variously as “an insiders-only club” and as “the what guild?” I don’t think it’s necessary for FWG to be in any way elitist or superior. What we need, in my opinion, is to present a commitment to its own credo: “Supporting, informing, elevating, and promoting quality anthropomorphic fiction and its creators.” So this proposal is that we do precisely that, in visible, tangible, supportive ways. Put another way, this proposal says that we – actually or metaphorically – modify the credo to put the word ACTIVELY at its beginning, and that we follow through with that commitment.
Finally, Proposal Four: Let’s all pitch in. I say this, fully aware that I’ve been silent and non-participatory since I first joined. I’m a shocking offender myself, and I don’t offer this proposal as a kvetch. (Side note: Who says furs can’t use Yiddish?) I offer this proposal to light at least a small match under our collective furry tail. HOW do we become more active? HOW do we participate? HOW do I turn off the all-caps button? I offer the perspective of someone who was around before there was dirt: Not everyone has active Twitter-feeds, SmartPhones, and/or something just short of wetware/jacked-in instantaneous reception and ability to provide commentary. Had Poetigress not sent out the email, I’d have been blissfully unaware of any of this. So my proposal is to be active both ways – let the President and/or other FWG luminary offer (perhaps) semi-monthly emails, letting us know what’s going on. Let the Guild (as represented by its leader(s)) be active in keeping us in the loop, but if-and-only-if we are equally active in responding and becoming involved as much as possible. Like the most useful streets, it has to run both ways. No President can succeed if the people do nothing.
TL/DR: Let’s get off our tails and make this Guild into what our furry community needs. Participate! Be active! Dream and accomplish! Be the change that you want to see in the furry world!
Thanks for reading. Now get back to writing. (Dons asbestos, just in case.) Let’s hear it, furs.