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Surviving 2020 in the QC

2020 was a difficult and unprecedented year for everyone, and the Midwest Writing Center wants area residents to be part of a new anthology documenting it.

With a submission deadline of Jauary 31, MWC Press is putting together an anthology of creative works responding to the many disasters that we endured last year. To be titled “These Interesting Times: Surviving 2020 in the QC,” the book will feature historic events like Covid-19, the derecho, and other natural disasters, police protests, and the contentious presidential election, But they’re also interested in the smaller, untold stories of resilience, endurance, and survival.

Ryan Collins is executive director of the writing center and wants stories about how individual lives were affected.

Credit Midwest Writing Center
Ryan Collins

“We’d like to hear from as many people as possible, especially if they don’t consider themselves to be professional writers or anything like that. Everybody went through something last year. Obviously, there were some macro-level disasters, and I think what gets lost a lot of times in those narratives, is the sort of the way those things impact individual people and can twist up and make their lives terrible."

“A lot of people went through a lot and we want to hear the stories – if they’re willing to share them – the stories of how people survived that, got through that, and are hopefully coming out the other side.”

He's asking people to contribute in whatever genre most appeals to them -- fiction, essay, creative non-fiction, poetry, hybrid forms, or visual arts. And the goal is to compile a work from the six-county bi-state region that records the resilience and resourcefulness of area residents, a work of value as historical document, literary artifact, and witness testimony. Collins says this is the first personal anthology project for MWC Press, to serve as kind of a time capsule.

“It’s personal narratives, but it’s poems, images – if people want to relate what they experienced in the form of a fictional story somehow, the theme is pretty broad. The theme is much more aimed at survival than it is disaster. We kind of went with that because it can be broadly defined. We can obviously point to the pandemic, things like the derecho – those are easy."

“Everybody can see those, but there’s a lot more on a personal level and individual level, the way those things kind of reverberate through our lives, create all kinds of complications and complexities. We’re hoping people will be willing to share those.”

People don’t have to be writers to tell their story, and MWC can offer dictation and transcription services to help capture them, and he intends to pay all the contributors something.

“It’s a lot; artists need to get paid, even if they’re not people who consider themselves professional artists. It takes work to tell your story. It’s difficult, especially if you’re telling a story that was about a hard time, about what was for a lot of people a hard year. That should be rewarded, and our intention is to have a release reading. We don’t have a timetable on that. We’ve got editors lined up and we expect the anthology to be out later this year.”

At the moment, all he can promise in payment is contributor copies, thanks to publisher Legacy Book Press, but the Midwest Writing Center is in the process of securing funding so it can pay people cash. Collins plans to donate part of the book sales to area disaster relief and community support services through the Quad Cities Community Foundation Disaster Recovery Fund.

The Rock Island-based writing center asks that submissions come mainly from: Clinton, Scott, and Muscatine counties in Iowa, and the Illinois counties of Henry, Rock Island, and Mercer, though they will accept exceptional submissions outside this area. Feel free to send questions or a piece you want to share to submissions@mwcqc.org. You can see the complete information and guidelines at www.mwcqc.org/.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.