The To-The-Point Version
Valley of Writers provides tools and resources to help writers of fiction, poetry & memoir succeed. We are interested in the intersection of writing, technology, business and relationships. When a writer decides to take their craft seriously, they are making a declaration of starting a business. This means they need to be equipped with the tools and resources to help them succeed, not just with their craft, but with the entrepreneurial and community aspects of this endeavor as well.
Our mission is to provide this holistic approach to writing.
The Story Version
Hi, my name is Fungai, I am the founder of Valley of Writers.
In 2018, I moved to Amherst, Massachusetts after spending about twenty years building websites, promoting artists and documenting arts and culture in Zimbabwe.
I had poured my heart and soul into this arena and, with a dedicated team of young journalists, built Zimbo Jam the leading online arts and culture publication in the country. Zimbo Jam has won four National Arts Merit Awards to date (2010, 2013, 2014 and 2020) and during the years I was involved with it day to day, it pushed me deep into the business of art and the life of artists.
Zimbo Jam took me beyond Zimbabwe to South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Denmark and the USA. I got to see first hand how some of the most successful artists and arts administrators in the world put their careers together, how they planned marketing campaigns, how they engaged with audiences and how they dealt with finances.
Being a writer myself, I decided that if I ever got a chance, I would create a platform dedicated to helping writers succeed and pour everything I had learnt into it. Actually, I had tried to create a platform like this before, in 2004, with a site called Writers of Zimbabwe, which didn’t take off.
Writers of Zimbabwe wasn’t the only platform that hadn’t worked out for me. I have tried to launch numerous online ventures that I either had to abandon for one reason or another or have had to put on the back burner. If you are a creative, you will know exactly what I mean.
But I wanted badly to do something for and with writers. So here I am. I have come full circle. I am back home.
My father’s story
In 2010 my father published his memoir through a well-known vanity press. They did a superbly shoddy job of editing and laying out the book.
I was shocked. Seeing his work put out into the world like that piqued my interest in publishing. How was it possible that an imprint with so much experience could put a product like this out in the world?
My father never attended a writing workshop. He never read a blog about writing. For the longest time, he had wanted to write about his life and when he retired, he found the time to do it. He sat down at his laptop and started. One page at a time. Until one day he was done. So many writers find themselves in this situation. They have a burning story to tell and all they want to do is tell it. The questions that drive us at Valley of Writers are, “How do we help them tell it? How do we help them share it? How do we help them, if they so desire, build a career telling stories?”
The beginning of Valley of Writers
When I moved to Amherst in 2018, I was awed by the intensity of the literary fervor here. All around me, almost on a daily basis, were book launches, workshops, readings and other events. I decided I wanted to build something to contribute to the writing community here. Later on, I realized that this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. This platform needed to be more than about the writers here in Western Massachusetts. It needed to bring writers and writing from all the worlds I found myself in together.
It needed to reach out to writers wherever they were and bring them together to support each other, to learn and teach, to grow and succeed, to write amazing stories and launch them successfully.
This website and all our efforts are dedicated to writers like my father and all the writers I have met through the years. Every day I am reminded that if my father had known the things I know now when he launched his book in 2010, he would have made different decisions. If more artists out there knew this, they would make different decisions.
I know now that art needs a guiding hand throughout its journey to an audience. I know that art by itself rarely finds this audience, that the artist needs to be involved even after the creation process and needs to understand the whole journey from start to finish if their art is to fully find its wings.
Valley of Writers is motivated by this knowledge and the desire to have writers guide their work successfully into the hands of readers.
The question I am always trying to answer is, “How can writers use biz and tech tools to make their work easier, to find more readers, and to sell more books while at the same time building and leveraging great relationships to learn, to teach, to grow?” It’s obviously not worded that concisely in my head, but I get excited when I see those four things in action together.
Are you a writer? Do you want to be one? Welcome. Let’s take this journey on together.