The writers I have the privilege of talking with these days have one thing in common: They are all incredibly busy. I believe the most precious gift one could offer a creative person is time: unscheduled, unencumbered, unhurried time. But when I hear how busy writers are—when I see the work they’re doing, and I feel the level of engagement and the urgency that it represents, and I understand the extent to which writers are pushing themselves to create art, to express themselves, and to make meaning out of the mess, and the occasional miracle, that is happening all around us—my first reaction is not to bemoan the absence of wide-open time for our creative writers. Mostly I feel a profound sense of pride. I am reminded that there is a sea of passionate people out there who are not only making literature, but also thinking deeply about—and responding to—important issues that affect us all, whether they’re literary, sociopolitical, environmental, or something else entirely. Categorize them however you’d like. Sometimes when I read the newspaper, or listen to the radio, or check what’s trending on Twitter, it’s the one thing that makes me feel better, that restores a little hope in the world’s trajectory. Thank God for busy writers.
Kevin Young is a great example of the assiduous writer, as contributor Clint Smith shows us in his absorbing profile, “The Poet at Work.” The author of ten poetry collections and two nonfiction books, including a new one, Bunk, on the rise of hoaxers, plagiarists, forgers, and fakers, published in November by Graywolf Press; the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the new poetry editor of the New Yorker, Young has no time for an image of the idle artist lazing about, waiting for inspiration to strike. “I feel like people have this notion of writing that it’s inspiration-based and romantic. Both little-R and big-R romantic. I don’t think that’s how it works. I think we can put it many ways—perspiration not inspiration—but I think it’s really just being there in your space.... It’s being there and writing,” he tells Smith. “It’s working. That’s why they call it your work.”
I am grateful—and honored, truly—that you’re taking time out of your busy life to read this magazine. I hope you find much in these pages to push you further along in your writing. Keep going. Your work is important.