By Atlin Merrick
I visited the Long Room in Trinity College Dublin recently.
Look at that photo. Imagine being in this room that contains 200,000 books, a single example of every book published in Ireland and Britain between 1801 and about 1880.
While Jane Austen is there in that room, while the Brontës are there too you know, you know that most of the voices in that beautiful room, bound inside covers of gold-stamped leather, are the voices of men, as are every one of the fifty-one busts lining its 65 metres.
In that library and libraries the world over men of means—they are the ones with the resources and time—are the voices that have spoken for you.
About who you are, what you want, need, and deserve.
If you are gay, disabled, black, if you are neurodivergent, poor, female it doesn't matter — middle class men have historically spoken for you.
Speak for yourself.
I'll say it again: speak for yourself.
Please stop letting self-defeating doubt keep you back from sharing your voice. More than anything Improbable Press wants to publish the voices of people from whom we don't yet hear enough. The world needs the voices of women and black people, disabled people and asexual people. The world needs your voice, your viewpoint, your books.
The world needs your books.
One more time…the libraries of the world, the ones full to their lofty rafters of mostly one kind of voice speaking for all the others? Those rooms need you.
You, you, you.
You are good enough to be there.
Saying that one again too…you. are. good. enough.
You've read stupid work after stupid work by people who are not your gender or colour or sexuality telling others what you're like. Shut them up the very best way there is—by shouting loud and long and proud and clear about what it's really like to be your colour or sexuality or descent.
Do you know how you do that? I'll tell you.
Send your book or story or artwork out to a press, a magazine, a newspaper. It doesn't matter if you're black or ace or autistic and your work has nothing to do with being black or ace or autistic. What matters is that you have raised your voice.
A couple hundred years ago a beautiful room was literally filled to the ceiling with mostly one voice. While we can revere that beautiful room, while we can honour the creations in it, we absolutely do not ever have to be okay with the fact that they spoke for us. We do not have to let the future be represented by those same voices.
Your book, your art, your short story…it should be represented. Please stop saying, "No one would read me," as you write thousands of words of fanfic or pen entire unpublished books of poetry or graphic novels or art. Send those stories out, those poems, those drawings. Stop stopping yourself.
Stop letting one kind of person be your voice.
Be your own.
I just read this for the fourth or fifth time and it’s so beautifully written, so encouraging and empowering, it gives me goosebumps every time I read it! <3
It also reminds me of the talk we had with the guide, about the library having books from needlepoint to witchcraft, and his hilarious encounter with ‘The history of poultry’.