A Letter to 2023

Dear SF/F Writing & Reading Community,

I’m writing to you at the eleventh hour — literally, 30 minutes to midnight in Chicago on December 31st, 2023 — with the Speculative Literature Foundation‘s year-end letter.

That’s perhaps characteristic of the last few years — like many folks, we’ve found recent times pretty overwhelming. There have been times when it’s been difficult to find energy for creative writing in the midst of global conflict, fears for our friends’ and family’s health, economic challenges, and of course, our own personal griefs and struggles.

And yet, isn’t that when we need writing the most? We need stories and poetry to help us think through what we’ve experienced. We tell stories to ourselves, to make sense of the world, and to envision a better world. I’m not sure there’s anything more powerful in the long run — if we want to build a more equitable future, full of opportunity for all, first we have to tell ourselves the stories that show possible paths forward.

At the SLF, we’ve done the best we can to support speculative literature writers this past year, and we do have some accomplishments that we can be proud of. Here are a few of the things we’ve done this year, along with some of our plans for 2024:

  • We continued to give out our grants – since we started back in 2004, we’ve given out more than $100,000 in grants to writers and organizations. SLF grants (generally $500 or $1000) are always free-to-apply, with easy, straightforward applications. See past winners, access our 2024 grants calendar, and apply at https://speculativeliterature.org/grants/
  • We continued to expand our Portolan Project, providing free and low-cost creative writing resources to help every writer get the tools they need to tell their own stories. Visit https://speculativeliterature.org/portolan-project/ to find more than 25 interviews with both established and emerging writers on aspects of craft, as well as associated Deep Dive education modules with discussion questions and writing exercises. Coming in 2024, look for even more comprehensive resources designed both for classroom use and for writers working on their own.
  • We dropped Season 2 of our podcast, Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans. There are now more than 60 episodes of interviews and discussions about speculative fiction, community, writing, teaching and more. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts! https://speculativeliterature.org/mrah/
  • We continued our Deep Dish reading series in Chicago, with events at City Lit Books and Volumes Book Cafe. In 2024, look for more events at diverse venues across greater Chicago. Visit https://speculativeliterature.org/programs-3/deep-dish-reading-series/ for more information — if you’re in the area, or visiting Chicago, we’d love to hear about your upcoming books. Our rapid-fire readings are also open to newer writers, so if you’re published or not, we’d love to hear from you, and have you join our Chicagoland writing community.
  • And finally, we continued to enhance our online presence with our Discord community, member newsletter, writer encouragement letter and weekly co-writing sessions. Look for us in person in 2024 (our twentieth anniversary year!) at Capricon 44, ICFA 45, WorldCon 2024 and WFC2024.

*****

In this season of giving, we are thankful for the grant support that we received in 2023 from the Oak Park Area Arts Council and the Illinois Arts Council Agency, as well as the support that we received from our generous individual supporters and members. Thank you. You make everything we do possible. Thank you, too, to our staff, advisory board, course instructors and volunteers.

As a personal director’s note, I’d like to say that I’m more than a little overcommitted with service responsibilities at the moment — I’ll be serving on my local school board until May 2025. So I’ve really been relying on our part-time staff to keep everything running smoothly.

Big shout-out here to our managing director and podcast producer, Darius Vinesar, our development director, Sue Bedry, our finance director, Kunj Bhatt, our program director and volunteer coordinator, Angeli Primlani, our Portolan Project director, Shaun Duke, and our fall 2023 intern, Areej Akhtar.

They’ve kept the ship sailing forward with a very distracted captain, and I’m tremendously grateful for all their hard work. I’ll also say a fond goodbye to Kitty Scarlett Lin and Margaret Treanor Frey, who did wonderful work for us the last few years — you are both very much missed.

*****

If you like what we do, please consider joining us as a member and/or as a supporter. The SLF is a 501(c)(3), so donations are tax-deductible in the U.S. – and don’t forget to apply for matching funds, if your employer offers them.

Become a member here (membership starts at $2 / month): https://speculativeliterature.org/membership/

*****

Looking towards a brighter future, together.

Mary Anne Mohanraj

Founder and Executive Director

Speculative Literature Foundation

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