Writing as a Community

A couple years ago I had an epiphany. Well, it was sort of a  forced epiphany – like being pushed off the roof of an enormous casino by one of those Las Vegas mobster types making you think, “Hey, gravity is a real pain in the ass sometimes.”

What I really mean to say is that a good deal of my time was spent judging events for miniature games and running “special projects” for the company I was judging for. Special Projects translated to Ebay Fraud Investigation, but that is not really important to this story. What is important to the story is the fact that I was in a rut with it, but kept doing it because of the community. I had thought I had made a lot of friends doing it (and in reality I had), but at the same time some of those friends were not really as strong as I had thought.

Enter a sudden and very brutal extraction of anything having to do with those miniature games. That left a void of a lot of time, money and energy. It also left me with a bit of a burning need to get back to doing the things that I enjoy. Namely the novel writing I had always intended on doing in high school, but never seemed to get to.

I picked up books and started reading them in piles. I took competing in Nanowrimo more seriously. I opened my eyes and noticed that GenCon, a gaming convention I have been working for 15 years, had a rather strong Writer’s Symposium. I also found authors.

Twitter, Facebook and other social media had midlist authors there in droves. Some were there just to sell their books. Others were there to talk, snark and generally cause mayhem. Guess which ones I started associating with. In addition I found book bloggers, review sites and a slew of other aspiring authors who were motivating each other.

Maybe it is just me. Maybe it was the Write by the Lake seminar where Marshall Cook talked about his willingness to buy the book of any Wisconsin author. Or maybe I am just hardwired to want to create and/or foster community. Maybe I’m just like my father (to bold).

(If you can identify the 80’s pop culture reference above score yourself 20 bonus geek points.)

No matter what the reason I started becoming involved in the online writing community. I took party in Julie Butcher-Fedynich’s #wordathon competitions. I would instigate little battles with Dina James, a.k.a Gunny James. I followed the #amwriting trend (even if I was not participating) as I had chatted a few times with Johanna who had started the trend. And I started talking with a variety of other aspiring authors.

In reality we are not aspiring authors, simply unpublished ones. Most of us have at least one or two completed manuscripts or short stories. Some of us are not in the same genre. But we all seem to be a part of the same community, inspiring and motivating each other. Many hands make light work. It might be a quote from a Nicolas Cage movie, but in this case I think it works.

There are a number of my fellows I could focus on, but none as time-sensitive as Tina Frawley. Her goal is to get her book published and make Oprah’s Book Club before she goes off the air. Her blog http://oprahby2011.com/ outlines the entire plan. Aside from the fact that our blogs use the same template, our writing could not be any more different. I am writing urban fantasy and dark horror, she is writing historical fiction. My books would never make it onto Oprah’s list. Whomever fills the void left by Oprah will likely never put anything I write on a list. Maybe a banned list, but I doubt even Tyra Banks would promote anything I write. But Oprah is not my dream, it is hers.

That means when I see her lamenting on Twitter about being behind on her goal I play Gunny Zombie and give her a verbal boot to the britches. When I hear about a goal met I celebrate online. And, assuming I can afford it, I will make the trip to Chicago for the episode of Oprah when she is booked. I say when as I firmly believe in the power of positive thinking. At least that is what I have tricked myself into thinking and I am sticking to it.

No matter if it is supporting someone’s dream to sit with Oprah on the infamous “Couch of Jumping™” or starting up a weekly critique group at the local coffee shop, for me the journey and destination is always better if you have travel companions to join you on the way. So, I am going to dedicate the month of September to my “travel companions” on this journey to the printing press. With the start of football season and a home game 3 of the 4 weekends in the month, you guys are the ones that will keep me honest, keep me working, keep me writing. After September, Nanowrimo will seem like a summer vacation.

Write on and I will see you on the other side.


7 thoughts on “Writing as a Community

  1. (If you can identify the 80′s pop culture reference above score yourself 20 bonus geek points.)

    Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” of course ;-}


    Love this post!

    I’ve always been on-the-outside-looking-in-ish, but the writing community here on Twitter is a place I’m beginning to feel I belong, and it’s a cool feeling. You mentioned a couple of my favorite people (you both know who you are, and if you don’t, I’ll send you some cupcakes with “It’s YOU, silly!” written in gooey lettering). Ok, ok, I mean Julie (@jimsissy), and @johannaharness. Two of the first fellow writers I met on here, who made me think this would be the perfect place to hang out, surrounded by people who “get it.”

  2. Pingback: Writing as a Community « Oprah Book Club By 2011 Blog

  3. Thanks for the shout-out, Zombie! It’s nice to see that you’re getting actual writing done, without me having to pull rank on you!

    Also, thank you very much for the earworm of “When Doves Cry.” Because Prince is exactly what I needed to not only 1) remind me of my age but 2) be in my head until I distract myself with some other song. Geek points or no, that was really…unfair.

    (Yet I will still take the geek points. I’ll also take “Other Signs Your Childhood Is Now Vintage” for $1000, please, Alex!)

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