Saturday, April 4, 2009

One World is Launched at Oxford Literary Festival

(This picture is from Vanessa Gebbie's Blog the people are from left to right Dan Raymond-Barker of New Internationalist, Jude Dibia,Vanessa Gebbie, Konstantinos Tzikas, Elaine Chiew, Chris Brazier of New Internationalist, Ovo Adagha. Click on the picture to go and see more photos from the launch)

(Click the book cover to go to Amazon to buy the book!!!)

I feel emotional this morning about our book One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories. I’ve been reading accounts of the launch, which took place this last week at the Oxford Literary Festival, at our virtual office at Zoetrope. A few of us who happened to be near Oxford managed to attend the launch, they were Vanessa Gebbie, Jude Dibia, Elaine Chiew, Konstantinos Tzikas, and Ovo Adagha, the originator of the project. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who also has a story in the collection, was in attendance too.

These people were friends, but had never met each other before outside of the office where we meet on most days. They formed part of a panel discussion to discuss the process that culminated in the book and the book itself. They read excerpts of their stories. The hall they were in was standing room only. And according to accounts from Vanessa, Jude, Elaine and Ovo it was a fantastic success. Afterwards they went out to dinner with some folks from New Internationalist (the publisher) and someone from Doctors without Borders, the charity that we have donated our royalties to.

I’m not sure what has me all weepy. From the beginning I have been fascinated by the process- the fact that we, the writers, did this. We came together from everywhere in the world and cooperated and met a goal. No agents. No publishers -until the job was completed. Even the final edits were primarily done by Molara Wood, one of the One Worlders. The process gives me hope on many fronts. People really are far more similar than they are different. (The stories bear this out too). Cooperation and discussions and even a few arguments (how I miss those wild arguments with Molara and Petina now that Molara is too busy off in Lagos and Petina too busy becoming wildly famous) – prove yet again that talk is the way forward, words are the only path to peace.

I love the power that this group of writers pulled back into their hands. So often as writers we are being tossed by the whims of editors and publishers. They will decide- not us. But not this time. The One Worlders set down the terms for themselves. We decided everything and then gave it to the publisher and asked do you want it? Theirs was only to say yes or no. There was no yes-if. They tried and the group said no. Only yes or no, if no, we would move on. New Internationalist, in the first group of publishers given an option- grabbed it up.

I love that these strangers met in Oxford and immediately found friends in each other. I love how they each describe how the meeting in flesh went after knowing each other only through words written on a screen. How all were impressed with the others.

Perhaps I’m going all pixy dust and rainbows, but I think there is something a bit magical about this project, I’ve felt that way from the beginning. If nothing else there are some bigger lessons to be learned here.


Sue Guiney said...

Absolutely amazing. I completely agree with you and love the way you put your feelings about this and about the power of writers into words. Thanks.

Lauri said...

I don't know what happened this morning when I was reading at our virtual office. Especially Jude Dibia's comments about how lovely it was to meet Vanessa and Elaine.

I don't know maybe it was residual from staying up most the night crying my eyes out with The Kite Runner. I'll never be able to watch the movie.

Helen Ginger said...

What an uplifting post! It makes you feel good to read about the anthology and to read your wonderful words.

omniovo said...

Thank you for the blogpost, Lauri. You are a big part of what we have achieved.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Lovely post, Lauri. If I had a wish it would have been that we were all there, every one of us. I was especially aware of the work that Molara had done, and how much the launch should have ben a celebration of that too. Her name was mentioned many times!

Happy days.


Anonymous said...

You should be weepy. I'm weepy just reading about it. This is what writing is all about. Brilliant!

Lauri said...

Ovo and Vanessa-Thanks for stopping by and leaving lovely comments. And thanks for doing us proud that side!

Selma- Even though I wasn't there I feel so excited about the launch. Now we must see what happens. I hope it is the beginning of some serious momentum!

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