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The rise (and fall?) of the indie lit boy.

December 21, 2010 \pm\31 12:26 pm

I know a handful of boys — yep, sorry, mainly boys and you can make of that what you must — aged ~18-25, that run indie lit journals online. Somewhat successful ones.

And here, success is not defined in terms of money, clearly, but in terms of a quality if quirky product, a decent following, facebook likes and twitter retweets, y’know, ‘word of mouth’, a shout-out every once in a while on one of the ‘major group lit blogs’ and most favorably, submissions from admirable indie lit writers, people the indie lit boy might like to befriend at some point, along with publishing his already friends.

And when asked why he does it, the indie lit boy just says, I can make a sweet website, I can write and pick things I like to read.

There is an enviable characteristic that all indie lit boys share that they will not always and that they have no real control over and that is youth and all its attendant qualities: stamina, idealism, innocence (to some extent), freshness, pliability, potential. It is a kind of intangible bouquet that can be intoxicating, but it is temporary, ephemeral, though it may not seem so to the indie lit boy at the time.

Calling them indie lit boys seems reductive but it is useful. A boy is certainly not yet a man, but equally, does that mean that indie lit is certainly not yet Literature?

What happens when the indie lit boy gets older and he garners responsibility and he has to make a living and he leaves his parents’ fold and he does not go get an MFA or spend another four years in school to ‘stave off the real world’ — does he grow out of his ‘indie lit boy phase’ the way I grew out of being ‘goth’ or listening to Nirvana?

I don’t know. I hope he continues to pick things he likes to read and I hope he continues to write himself and that maybe he becomes ‘indie lit man’, not as adorable but evermore capable, more committed and more impactful. But I am past my twenties and I can be cynical about boys.

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17 Comments
  1. December 21, 2010 \pm\31 1:04 pm 1:04 pm

    I once had a conversation with [unsaid WWAATD writer] about compiling an indie lit boy calendar.

    I’m pretty sure that all this young energy will not last. This is a very important conversation to have, though. How can we make sure that this young energy turns into something that not only lasts, but breaks out of the VERY small circles it’s restricted to? Step number one would seem to be for the indie lit boys of the world to make an effort to extend the reach of the club. Step number two might be coming up with more viable business models. What do you think Ani?

    • December 21, 2010 \pm\31 1:36 pm 1:36 pm

      i would love to see an indie lit boy calendar for obvious reasons!

      i don’t know that i feel any responsibility towards them? i am just as lost as a youth, but worse, because i am old hehe.

      seriously, i enjoy very much a lot of the writing and i think i do what i can by encouraging and sharing (which is partly why i like contributing to WWAATD), but beyond that i have no answers. i do think that there will be young energy as long as there are young people, so i am not worried about that, but i would like to see some of the current crop become who i think they can if that makes sense? how that turns into ‘viable business models’ i have no clue, i rarely think that way unfortunately.

      • December 21, 2010 \pm\31 2:41 pm 2:41 pm

        The indie lit boy calendar began shooting Mr. November last week on an island made of cotton candy where booty-graffitti sweatpants were invented.

    • December 21, 2010 \pm\31 4:06 pm 4:06 pm

      I kind of agree with these points – yes, how to harvest that young energy (sorry, that makes it sound like collecting semen and storing it in test tubes, I do apologise) and make sure it lasts, make sure that there are business models in place, make sure that it starts thinking bigger and not just “indie”.

      But then again, part of me thinks “fuck thinking about that – it all sounds too much like the real world of work and responsibility and doing stuff in order to reap benefits.” The indie lit boys will have to face all that soon enough – why not let them enjoy the innocence of their indie lit world while they can?

      Not that I know anything about being old, jaded and worn-down, as I’m only 21.

      • December 21, 2010 \pm\31 4:30 pm 4:30 pm

        yeah but for most everyone it’s all about turning the things they love into money-makers, right? would be good if they can do it (i have my own reservations about what happens to ‘things you love’ when they become ‘work’ but who knows)

        and melissa, this island sounds like heaven!

  2. December 21, 2010 \pm\31 1:09 pm 1:09 pm

    this made me sad.

  3. December 21, 2010 \pm\31 1:19 pm 1:19 pm

    would like to see photos of Ani Smith in goth attire.

    • December 21, 2010 \pm\31 1:52 pm 1:52 pm

      uh no, you really wouldn’t. ;-)

      • December 21, 2010 \pm\31 4:02 pm 4:02 pm

        Is it true that your middle names are really “Siouxsie Lugosi”?

  4. Gian permalink
    December 21, 2010 \pm\31 2:58 pm 2:58 pm

    Am I one of these? I hope I am one of these.

    • December 21, 2010 \pm\31 3:46 pm 3:46 pm

      i dunno gian. you may have the good sense to be in it for dishonorable reasons.

      • December 21, 2010 \pm\31 4:32 pm 4:32 pm

        nah, gian is definitely my personal mr. november.

  5. Mark C permalink
    December 21, 2010 \pm\31 8:07 pm 8:07 pm

    I’m just now leaving my indie lit boy phase and i can physically feel the optimism and idealism dripping out of me. More and more so every day, really. Is that strange? Is that good?

    In seriousness, though, I could almost classify every two years of my life as some sort of phase: the marijuana phase; the ignorance-about-publishing phrase; the against-me!-is-the-best-band-ever phase. Most of us keep progressing (or regressing) based of personal experience, right? Indie lit boys will find other avenues if they don’t turn into indie lit men, no? Right? No? Someone say something positive, please.

    • December 22, 2010 \am\31 9:17 am 9:17 am

      hi mark c, i guess in an existential way, everyone will always find a way, so there’s that. try to hold on to your optimism, though, yr gonna need it.

  6. December 22, 2010 \am\31 3:22 am 3:22 am

    sounds like these boys needs to copy + paste together a novel, get it published by viking or something, taken very seriously for no real reason, other than that the work seems to stir a general sense of confusion into the reader, as in whipping air into cream, and because a charismatic and powerful gay man introduces them all to his friends as dessert

    • December 22, 2010 \am\31 9:19 am 9:19 am

      reynard i ♥ you, please be my mr december.

      (sometimes i subsist on a diet consisting wholly of indie lit boy for weeks at a time. maybe this is what is wrong with my thighs.)

  7. December 23, 2010 \am\31 11:20 am 11:20 am

    This is good.

    I also want to see Goth-Ani.

    On another note, I’ve been listening to a lot of Nirvana recently. Mostly In Utero and Incesticide.

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