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Wolf-Ely Writing Project: Day 282

(This is the ninth in a series of posts that chronicle my year-long writing project. I'm writing fiction to explore how wolves and wolf hunting affect residents in northern Minnesota. Previous posts have included excerpts from works in progress. For more information about this project, please scroll down to Wolf-Ely Writing Project: Day 1, or click here.)

Plan C

As a Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB) Artist Initiative Grant recipient, I'm required to conduct a community component that will in the words of the MSAB, "provide meaningful public engagement…" How hard could that be? A simple reading? A little PowerPoint program to add depth? More difficult than I thought, given my topic: The cultural, political and personal turmoil that surrounds wolves and wolf hunting.

Two wildlife education-related organizations initially accepted my proposal to host a reading—with great enthusiasm. However, when it came to final approval, they both ultimately declined. Because they needed to maintain a public perception of neutrality, I imagined they feared that my topic would invite unwanted controversy, and thus an appearance far from neutrality. Based on my research and experiences, I now understand that this was a very real possibility.

The first time a director rejected my proposal, I offered to have her read my stories. She could approve the one she deemed was the "safest," the story that the public would find the least controversial.

When I found myself making the same offer to the second director, I thought—Hey! Wait a minute. What am I doing? I am condoning, even encouraging the censorship of my work!

So when Plan A and B fell through, I went to Plan C: to read my stories where they would be welcome. I would present at venues that value the free exchange of ideas without censorship. I would avoid having anyone metaphorically break my fingers or tape my mouth shut for fear of my stories stirring up trouble.

In fact, if no one finds anything disturbing or controversial about my stories, then I will have failed as a writer of literary fiction. I want my characters, their actions and the questions they raise, to make you feel uncomfortable. I want them to challenge your stereotypes, and think and feel as others do. I want you to see the world through their eyes—no matter how pleasant or unpleasant that might make you feel.

And remember, perhaps the main point of all this fiction stuff?

You don’t have to agree with other people to understand them.

So, below I present to you my marvelous, fabulous, PLAN C: New November dates and venues for my Minneapolis and Ely readings. I can't wait to share my stories with you! See you soon!


 Minnesota State Arts Board Reading

7 p.m., Nov. 7, 2014

The Loft at Open Book (Performance Hall)

1011 Washington Ave.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

(Open and free to the public!)


 “Tuesday Group” Program Speaker

Noon, Nov. 18, 2014

Grand Ely Lodge

400 North Pioneer Road

Ely, Minnesota 55731

(Open and free to the public! You may order lunch, but not required.)


Wendy Skinner is a fiscal year 2014 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


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