Tag Archives: writing

Fivers for Supporting Your (local) Writing Community

This is one of those topics where it’s hard to find a starting point. Mostly, this is because I can’t imagine why any writer wouldn’t support their local community.

When I say local, I’m talking within an hour or two of where you live. If you’re in a big city, well, then your community is probably huge anyway. But, I live in a small town, where the community is tiny (like 3-4 of us). However, I’m fortunate enough to be stuck between two larger areas (Columbus, Ohio and *collectively* North Central Ohio, which is everything between Columbus and Cleveland), and I’ve done my best to bridge the gaps between them.

Here’s why…

  1. Professional support and diverse experiences that go beyond a writing group. Writing groups aren’t for everyone, obviously, and each group has its own goals, methods, and, of course, people. Usually, different groups don’t share members for various reasons: distance, genre, and type of group just being a few. Now, like mine, your local community is probably comprised of two or more groups, and while their composition is surely different, every writer has the same goals: to get better, to succeed, and to keep writing. The more people helping to do that, the easier and faster it’ll happen for everyone.
  2. Builds your “brand recognition” further than just a writing group. Everyone has friends and/or fans, even writers. When you help out, when you show up, when you’re present, people remember that. Then they talk about that experience, they talk about you, and now your name is in the ears of people it may never have been before.
  3. Exposes you to a wider variety of writers in different genres, exposes you to writers more successful than you, and to writers less successful than you. In other words, you become more empathetic to every writer’s plight and path, and that’s a very good thing.
  4. Lifelong friendships. Sure, you can forge these inside your writing group, and you probably will, but going from a writers’ group to the larger community is like going from middle school into high school: it’s a bigger, wider world and that’s where the magic happens. Your friends in middle school are great, but you’ll make even better ones in high school. As introverts by nature, it’s always easier to communicate with people who share our passions.
  5. Giving is always better than receiving. The more you give back to writers both below and above your own current level of success, the better you’ll feel. It’s a soul-deep feeling, at least for me, because I know I’m contributing to my tribe, I’m helping my people.

Bottom line here is that no writer is an island. We don’t get along by ourselves, we don’t exist in a vacuum. No, your significant other doesn’t count, nor do your kids, or your parents, not even your dogs. Sure, these connections are awesome, and they sustain us, but only for a time.

Your community, you support them, they’ll support you. That pendulum will sway both ways, sometimes further toward you and other times further away, but it will swing. And it has a force, a momentum, that regardless of the direction it’s going, you’ll want to be there, you’ll want to feel the wind it generates, let it propel you forward. You’ll want to smell the excitement, taste the brainstorming. There’s nothing quite like a good local community, and it’s something every writer should experience.

Epic Weekend of Epicness

No, that’s not hyperbole about what a fantastic weekend I had.

Now, I’m not going to get into all the details here as it probably doesn’t interest most of you, but if you’re curious, you can read blog posts here and here that go into the writerly details about the activities we did and all the feelings that go along with them. Opening up to other writers, to people who use their emotions, life experiences, and personality faults to craft stories that may help others become better people is an extraordinary thing. Non-writers don’t get it (I know this because I’m married to a non-writer), and they don’t understand what it’s like to be a part of a tribe.

At any rate, this was probably my last big hoorah with this particular group of writers since my family and I are planning a long move in the late spring, early summer of 2017. Sure, I’ll see them again before I go, but probably not all of them, and certainly not all at the same time, and definitely not in such a sharing, open environment.

All the things I learned this weekend I’m putting down right now are because these are some of the best people I know, and this is how I want to remember them, in my own assholish way: fondly, sarcastically, and forever:

  • people with two first names are sketchy as fuck
  • twerking is not an acceptable way to wake people up
    • unless you like ninja monkey pajama ass in your face…
  • necrophilia and butt plugs may be a cause for concern, even in your fiction
    • necrophilia and butt plugs will never go away
  • dwarves do not always make good traveling companions, but their ale is damn good
  • gay werewolf terrorists may be the next big thing
  • glitterbeard should be glittier, and worn continuously
  • one should not sacrifice sex dolls in the fire pit
  • do not summon anything you can’t kill or screw
  • Bree is love
  • not all DMs are murdering assholes, sometimes they save your ass, too
    • unless you’re a dwarf, in which case you’re eaten by a box
  • voiceless leaders are still leaders; it’s about presence, not volume
  • rage bacon and love pancakes are best eaten with an apathetic appetite
  • psychic “ma’ams” are as powerful now as they were then
  • and lastly, Dear World, we accept the fact that we spent an entire weekend in a secluded cabin with each other for whatever reason we write. But we think you’re crazy for making us feel like we’re anything less than we are. You label us how you want to label us–with the worst grammar, and the most condescending terms–but we found that each one of us is a leader, a poet, an asshole, a gamer, a little sketchy, an innocent, a lover, a hater, a recluse, a joiner, a bitch, a flake, a brain, a friend, and a writer.

That’s the damn truth, and I’m sticking to it. I’ll defend said statements with harsh words bred from my consumption of the aforementioned love pancakes and rage bacon. I’m not above stealing Bree’s new sword, either, and you don’t want that.

Oh, hell no you do not want that,” as she’d say.

If you’re a writer, get involved with your local community, foster those relationships, and watch yourself soar along with them. A rising tide raises all ships, and as I’ve said numerous times over the last few years, we are in the unique position to be both the tide and the ships.

To every one of you crazy fuckers at the retreat this weekend, continue to be the highest tide, the most humble boats, and you will rise far above the rest. This I believe.

This I know.