Theric’s recent post led to an outpouring (120 comments and counting) of ideas and speculation on the future of AML, how to get there, and who will take it there. I noted that I would try to assemble said gush of words into something concise and actionable (as in, “ready to be acted upon,” not, “grounds for a lawsuit”). The following attempts to be comprehensive, but I certainly may have missed or misunderstood certain comments. Please feel free to offer further revisions, corrections, questions, gripes, etc.
Alright, then. To business. As suggested by Wm, the following is divided into two parts, “triage” (what needs to be done now) and “ambitions” (what can be done later, once the victim is stable).
NOTE: If your name appears at the end of an item after “Volunteers” do not fret. You have not been locked in. I am just going off of what I gathered from reading the comments, trying to cast a broad net. Hopefully, individual assignments and responsibilities will be finalized in time.
Website - There seems to be a very solid consensus about this one. If we can get the website back up and running and add as much content as possible (reviews, archives, the history/narrative of AML, etc.), our visibility skyrockets, our relevancy rises, and our community grows. This also includes coordinating with Jeff Needle and Andrew Hall to better harness and expand their invaluable work. I like Tyler’s idea of helping to further Andrew’s efforts to curate and link to all manner of MoLit related content (the “bazaar” appeal as named by Jonathan L.). The Digital Humanities Now model (as suggested by Tyler) can (should) be adapted for AML. It needs to be a collaborative, sustainable effort. VOLUNTEERS: Elizabeth Beeton, Jonathan Langford, Dallas Robbins, Michael Ellis
Social Media - Facebook and Twitter. To drive traffic. To promote and remind and provoke and display. VOLUNTEERS: Scott Hales
Awards - As many pointed out, getting seriously organized with the awards gives AML standing as an arbiter of quality, brings together writers, readers, and publishers, and sparks thoughtful discussion (as well as controversy!). We need to come up with a transparent and systematic way of nominating and judging. VOLUNTEERS: Theric Jepson, Tyler Chadwick, Wm Morris (publicity), Joe Plicka, Margaret Young
Board/Leadership - We need a board that will meet (on the internet, of course), somewhat regularly. We need a treasurer to keep tabs on our finances. We need a secretary to maintain membership rolls. We need you. VOLUNTEERS: Scott Hales, Jonathon Penny, Joe Plicka, others I may have missed?
Recruitment - We need to court critics and writers who have drifted off, or are up and coming, or have just plain never heard of us. I know a couple people whose interests align with AML but have just assumed the organization was kind of asleep, or not interested in them (as Scott mentioned, some are unsure who AML is for). I hate how this feels like another version of “tell five friends,” or “shouldn’t everyone have the opportunity to hear this glad message,” or, heaven forbid, “SPAM!” (as Mormons, that hits pretty close to home), but we don’t have to don the uniform and grab the bullhorn. Just selectively invite the most viable candidates to participate and let the internet do the rest. Jonathan Langford offered to scour some databases for stragglers who are doing work in MoLit but haven’t connected the dots to AML, and might be persuaded to share their work. Other efforts here could be fruitful.
2015 AML Conference/Seminar/Gathering - This is last under triage, because while it is something that we need to think about very soon, it’s not as urgent as the above. Hawaii is not going to happen until 2016. In the meantime, we could decide to do something this coming spring (or summer, or winter). Much has been bandied about. Should it be an online conference, a small gathering in conjunction with another conference (MSH), or something along the lines of Tyler’s proposed MoLit seminar (and/or creative workshop/seminar)? (In the future or even now, another discussed option was sponsoring a session at a larger conference like RMMLA, Sunstone, or maybe, someday, at MLA or AWP themselves.) If Tyler’s seminar idea gets traction, I would be glad to participate. It sounds like it has the potential to deeply engage a small group of willing but distracted folks and produce something memorable and meaningful that could go right up on the AML website. VOLUNTEERS (includes those who suggested or expressed interest in any of these ideas): Scott Hales, Tyler Chadwick, Joe Plicka, Theric Jepson, Jonathon Penny, Wm Morris
AML/LDS Writers Workshop Hawaii 2016 - I’m on this. It’s undoubtedly a beast to even think about. It could be incredible. Thank you for those of you who gave me feedback on your desires/abilities to attend. The big question right now is timing. February, May, or July? Then we tackle scope. And housing. VOLUNTEERS: Joe Plicka, Margaret Young, Luisa Perkins
Irreantum (or successor) - This is something I actually feel confident about offering to help with. My experiences with editing and publishing lit journals are not decades deep, but solid enough to stand on. Questions about money (printing, subscriptions) notwithstanding, there seems to be a fair amount of interest in having some sort of AML skin in the publishing game (does that expression make anyone else titter?). We can continue the discussion about format and audience on a future post. A few common themes: broader format, roving editorship and theme issues, online publication (maybe an additional print run). VOLUNTEERS: Jonathon Penny, Theric Jepson, Michael Andrew Ellis, Joe Plicka
MORE AMBITIONS/PIES IN THE SKIES
Many more ideas were suggested that sound super dreamy and super awesome (many offered by Randy Astle). Maybe a day will come when AML has the personnel and resources to pursue things like:
MoLit online course (Tyler has led out on this so far and maybe it will become his thing apart from AML, it’s not so much a pie in the sky really, maybe it could even be serialized in Irreantum), AML podcast, smaller workshops/conferences around the country, a MoLit app, a web series, an AML Press (Amazon Fulfillment style)
Okay, so what did I miss? And where do we go from here?
And PLEASE, if you would like to add your name to any of these items, PLEASE let me know. We need as much or as little as you can give.
So far it looks like a smaller group of about half a dozen folks who are ready to pitch in. (And a few who are already doing all they can.) Not sure if that will be enough to carry us, but we’ll start down the road and see who else shows up. In the age of the internet, you never know who will drop by.