I’m proud to have been elected president of the organization and excited to continue serving you and the field in a way that stays true to the founding principles of MWG, while building upon the qualities that have set the organization apart from its start.
Writing on war and the military has recently encountered positive blips, but oftentimes in ways that lie in opposition to what we’ve stood for at MWG: monologues instead of dialogues between readers and writers and writers themselves, didacticism which turns newcomers away from understanding these subjects which occupy an increasing slice of your evening cable news broadcast, and cheapening one or more forms of writing. Add to these self-inflicted wounds publishers who have cut back on coverage of the military or, perhaps even worse, siloed it off to its own discrete shelf of the bookstore or vertical of a magazine. In their place, new ones, narrow in their thinking and happy to generate their own caricatures of servicemembers and civilians, crop up. Some of these are true! None of them are helpful. We chide publications who mix up details of the subject we’re closely involved with rather than meaningfully engaging in a conversation regarding how it became a problem or what can be done about it.
At MWG we share a common interest. One that occupies varying percentages of our time. Within that common passion lies a diversity of past, present, and future I can’t hope to fully detail here: civilians, active duty service members, veterans, think tank analysts, fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, those with a novel or a long journalistic endeavor or a policy report in the works. It’s our greatest strength and one we should, and must, export to those in the community and those outside of it.
To this end, the board members of MWG held our first meeting to discuss which efforts we should prioritize in order to create a strong and stable organization through our members, as well as one which positively contributes to the larger community.
Our first priority is ensuring members of MWG don’t see the organization as a single line on their resume, or even worse, a burden. Instead, they, you, should see it as an active and involved association which continues to evolve and support writers as they grow. New standards and means of involvement for members will include an expansion of the work featured on the MWG website, the revitalization of programs like The Pen and the Sword, and continued social involvement for those within the organization. We’ll be actively soliciting volunteers and ideas for ways in which to build these programs throughout 2018.
I would, however, caution members against thinking MWG’s greatest benefits lie in its ability to act as a signal boost for stories that haven’t found a home or as a replacement for paid editors. These can occasionally be found, but MWG will never be in a position to act as a replacement for high-quality storytelling or professionals who know their respective outlets. Rather, our greatest benefits lie in the informal, dynamic connections one makes with other MWG members. In collaboration and advocacy that builds upon your foundation and gives back to the community, all in one sweep. The members of the board hope to continue facilitating these networks, but the most effective kernel is in personal outreach to individuals, engaging work that reaches across audiences, and activity that supports existing efforts within the community and works towards creating new endeavors. Our doors are always open.
One way we’re bringing together many of these aims is an anthology to be released by the Guild in 2018. Why We Write will feature essays from those inside and outside MWG on the reasons behind their writing, how they overcame the ever-present internal conflict of storytelling, and the ways in which their background influenced the particular form their writing takes, to only list a few. Submissions are open to MWG members as well as those outside the organization. We invite you to submit a piece you’re proud of and think will expand the mindset of those who read and write about war and the military in any of its forms. Hopefully even those who don’t.
We believe these efforts will result in a stronger MWG and a stronger writing community. I can’t wait to see your stories out in the world.