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Oklahoma Gazette Book Feature: Part publishing house and part art collective, The Consortium surfaces around ideas of self-sufficiency and cross-creation

Danny Marroquin May 4th, 2011

As the Amazon Internet river carries books and jobs out of struggling stores, many traditional publishers ask themselves, “What happened?”

consortium

A select group of local tech-savvy artists, music reviewers, comic enthusiasts and fantasy storytellers, however, isn’t asking such questions. It’s organizing.

The Consortium is a local collective: part writing workshop, culture review and publisher; all network. One of its creators, Josh Unruh, currently is looking for more visual artists to team with its authors. He’s also writing his own book, while offering edits to his colleagues. The ultimate aim of the nonprofit organization is to run a self-sufficient publishing house with the Internet as the hub, and wages and health benefits doled out to its contributors — all driven, he said, on a network of communication.

“If you want to see how the sausage is made, we can show you. If you have an interest in that,” Unruh said. “Art’s job is communicating with people. The point is communication: I will tell you how to do it.”

Novelist, artist and founding member Courtney Cantrell first linked Unruh with co-founder and novelist Aaron Pogue, while Unruh was considering what to do after leaving the advertising world, tinkering on his own projects. Cantrell currently paints and writes, while taking Consortium’s blog readers through the journey. The experience can replace the writer’s workshop, as she talks books, offers writing tips and even more inward topics, like what happens when a writer stops writing.

When Unruh met Pogue, the concept solidified. It seemed like such a simple, obvious idea to them.

“Maybe I’m being naive,” Unruh said. “If we can get to deep or shallow or middling pockets. I’m not saying it’s going to be a cakewalk. It is an idea that’ll take care of itself. If we can find people that know about us, they will be happy to help.”

At consortiumokc.com, one of the most striking elements and what will attract aspiring creatives are those blogs. In their collective, there’s no great secret to their art.

“The only trick to writing is, if you do it, you get better,” Unruh said. “If you want to be better, do it every day.”

Writers and artists discusses the form of the content they’re reviewing, or they recount their own creative experience. Unruh said the first time he reviewed a video game, he had overwritten the review. He found firsthand the need for help, and he wanted the collective to be equal parts writing and editing. While he said he has the passion and the knowledge to produce 5,000 words, he knows readers only have time for 1,000.

Consortium’s founders help provide order to other people’s passions.

In the past, he’s found online communities in Seattle for help in designing video games, but he wants that community here in Oklahoma City.

“We want people to be better,” Unruh said. “The Internet has made that doable. I have a word for it: e-quaintances.”

Photo Consortium member Julie Velez photographed the cover for Courtney Cantrell’s “Colors of Deception,” a novel the collective released last month.

 
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