Writers and The World | Kern Carter writes for the Tomorrow Club

Kern is the author of the recently published YA novel Boys and Girls Screaming (DCB/Cormorant Books), and the upcoming YA novel And Then There Was Us (Tundra/Penguin Random House/2024). He has previously self-published two titles. Kern Carter is also the founder of CRY Creative Group and has built a community of thousands of emerging writers connected by the power of vulnerability and creativity. 

I believe that writers are superstars. I really do. We record culture, we communicate culture, but most significantly, we define culture. Through books, music, TV and film, journalism and blogging, writers make it possible for everyone to consume culture in a meaningful way. But ask a writer if they feel like they matter to culture and they’ll probably look at you like you’ve been transported from the Romantic era. Our institutions have been under attack for so long that we’ve forgotten how much we actually matter. My mission is to change this. To change us; the way we think of ourselves, our value, and to change the perception of what it means to be a successful writer.

That’s where I think many of us get stuck. We don’t recognize what it means to make an impact or don’t recognize the impact we’re already making. If we aren’t bestsellers or script writers for the next blockbuster or writing songs with Beyoncé, we feel like our impact is insignificant. And because we believe that if we don’t achieve that level of success then we won’t generate enough income to sustain ourselves, our motivation dwindles and we find ourselves stagnated; mentally and with our writing.

But it’s not true. We don’t need to be connected to fame to have an impact. I engage with writers every day. I watch in real time as they build audiences around their writing and their message. I know editors running their own subscription magazines with 10,000 paid subscribers. I know journalists writing on Substack making six and even seven figures. If I told you how many writers I observe with tens of thousands of readers, or script writers who make a living selling stories, or filmmakers who write and produce their own films and have made a career of it, you would know for sure that writers are making an impact at all levels.

But how has all of this gotten lost today? Why is it that most writers today don’t recognize their true value? Well, the reality is that anyone can “write” their opinions and share it with the world. That access has been a blessing in so many ways, but it’s also threatened to reduce writing to
words on a screen when we know it’s so much more.

First, there’s skill to being a writer. The technicalities of good and great writing are so nuanced that it’s impossible to do it well without learning and practicing. Next, there’s a responsibility that writers hold themselves to. We have a responsibility to truth and accountability that must be
upheld at all times. And when truth isn’t the function of our writing, our imagination is what sets us apart. We are artists. We are creators and collaborators. We are the communicators of a culture that we also help design. Our value should be stamped.

So when I say that writers are superstars, I mean that quite literally. And as threats to our value continue to mount, my hope is that we continue to fight. We need to continue to build readership, continue to build subscribers, continue to sell books and write scripts and write the music that defines life for another generation. We must accept our responsibility and continue to use our imagination. This is what it means to be a writer.

I am grateful to be part of this community. My own newsletter magazine is called Writers Are Superstars and I preach this message every week. I want to uplift writers to see their true value and have them share that confidence with everyone they come in contact with – through their
own stories and with their own communities.

We are strong, we are resilient, we are writers.

The Tomorrow Club is a network of writers under 35. A collaboration between several PEN centres, including PEN Canada, and with young writers from across the world, the Tomorrow Club engages youth during deepening divisions, across borders and towards community and solidarity. It welcomes young and emerging writers to get involved in its network and other PEN activities. It also has historical roots, as it revives an idea first started in 1917 PEN’s founder, Catherine Amy Dawson Scott.  This revival is led by Ege Dundar, a writer, activist, and PEN International’s youngest board member. 

The Canadian members of the Tomorrow Club will meet with international members to exchange opportunities, establish partnerships and create a solidarity network. Kern Carter and Fareh Malik are the first two Canadian members of the Tomorrow Club.