What’s Community?

I hear this phrase a lot.  I use it often myself.  The Writing Community this.  The Writing Community that.  It is spoken as if the first letters should be Capitalized.  Like the White House or the Swine Flu.

This shows a level of importance.  But what exactly does Community mean?

To me, it is a connection to other writers and industry professionals.  This sense of Community refers to real life connections as well as those floating around in cyber space.  Yet it is more than the sum of my writerly relationships.  It is a feeling of belonging.

Writing has always been a solitary business.  Writers often lock themselves away while drafting their newest masterpieces.  Editing typically occurs in the confines of a private space–whether it’s an office, a closet or the library.  We sit alone typing out submission packages and our trips to the post office are not group efforts.  At least not in my experience. 

Waiting can be a lonely endeavor.  And since much of the querying process consists of waiting, writers need something to keep from going insane.  Hence the Community.

But is there more to the Writing Community than support, waiting games for which AQ is famous for and commenting on each other’s blogs? 

Over the last nine months I have watched AQers come and go.  I hope some of those leaving have reached their dreams and not simply given up.  I pray that the handful of steadfast AQers all reach the best selling list.  They are fabulous cheerleaders, mentors and individuals in general.  Not to mention their writing rocks.

If any one of the core group on AQ got his/her book published, I would stand in line for its release.  But I am one person.  It takes thousands for a sell-through and many more to reach break-out status.  Which makes me wonder, does the Writing Community have a role in helping writers reach these benchmarks?

Is there a new level of support to help debut novelists?  Or is the line drawn when we are asked (even silently) to lay out our hard earned cash?  What about the established mid-listers in our midst?  Do they need something different?  If so, what can the Community do for them?

What steps will/do you take to support the members of your Community?

warm wishes to my writing buddies~ cat

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20 responses to “What’s Community?

  1. Dear Cat,

    I have written more blogs about writing in the last week than I have the last six months. I was writing in a vacuum. Reading other peoples posts and comments has inspired me.

    I am not trying to make a living from my writing which does not mean I do not take it seriously. I do. The root of the word amateur comes from French, which is borrowed from the Latin amator,oris lover <amare, to love. I do love to write.

    I do feel somewhat out of place: the writers of most of the blogs I have been commenting on all write fiction and I don't.

    Nevertheless, the invisible community out there is important to me. We all want to improve and writing is not an end point but a journey. I thank all the bloggers and commenters out there whose presence is inspiring me.

    • Siggy,

      I hate to think of you feeling isolated because of what you write versus what others are writing. Follow your heart and live your journey true to yourself and your writing. That is all anyone can hope for, right?

      I’m glad you find inspiration in some blogs and that it helps with the fellings of isolation. I, too, wrote in a closet for almost a decade. I hated how it felt compared to the freedom that I now feel after outing myself to the writing community.

      I wish you the best and hope to continue inspiring and being inspired by you and others.

  2. This puts me in mind of an essay on “Community” that my friend Jill just had published in the Winter 2010 issue of IS Magazine.

    She cited “Shared Endeavor” as being a source of community, that in working “together toward achieving a single challenging goal,
    community is built.”

    AQ is like that, in my opinion, the shared goal being, “Getting Published!” Everyone is so encouraging and helpful, and I have learned much about writing and the business of writing since I joined.

    • Layinda,

      Thanks for stopping by and posting. Thanks also for your contributions to AQ as a community. It is a great place to be. I have loved my time on the AQ boards and hope I never feel compelled to leave.

      The shared knowledge base, the easy banter and the warm fuzzies I get are the best on the web, in my opinion.

  3. jmartinlibrarian

    Cat: What lovely thoughts. I, too, am so grateful for all of my writing friends in the “community.” You are no small part of that.

    Would I stand in line to buy one of your books? You betcha. In a heartbeat. And my heart would burst with pride and best wishes, too.

    Thanks for another great post. 😉

    • Thanks, Jenny.

      The feeling is very mutual. The timing was perfect for me to join AQ. The benefits I have received are immeasurable in terms of friendship and support. It really gave me a leg up on the way I feel about myself as a writer.

      It has also provided me with a greater appreciation for other writers and the process of working together and supporting each other. In essence: community on a whole new and unexpected level.

  4. AQ has been a wonderful launching point for me, as well. Though I don’t post as often as others, I’m still there soaking it up. I’ve learned more than I thought I would. And I met some wonderful people and feel part of the writing community.

    And yes, Cat, I would buy your book, too! Supporting each other through the process shouldn’t end when we reach our goals. 🙂

    • TK- I have fallen off some with my posting on AQ as well, though I think it is a product of Real Life and all that keeps me busy. It has and does continue to be a source of inspiration for me.

      Thanks for the presale! Know that you have one too. I just wonder if there is another level to the community thing–one that hasn’t been tapped into yet, but could be golden. Of course, I like to dream and when I dream big, it’s really big. I guess that’s why I write fiction!

  5. This reminds me – I need to go check out AQ! I’ve been hesitating because none of my WIPs are ready yet for me to send out letters in search of an agent. But from all you’ve written about it, Cat, it does sound like such a wonderful community.

    At the moment, I get the most support online for my writing from my blog, and I really cherish that so much. Offline, my family talks as if all I have to do is get one novel polished and it can’t help but be published, which is also very nice (although of course I realize that’s not quite the way the world works – but it’s still nice!).

    • Belle,

      I love the well-meaning support of family and close friends. I crave the understanding from experience that I get from AQ. One of the nice things about AQ is that there are many ways to utilize the site. There are first paragraph critique forums as well as first page and first chapter ones. Critique groups crop up and certain games provide awesome opportunities to help in the editing process.

      I have met some wonderful writers there and exchanged full manuscripts with others for critique.

      Information is passed freely and everyone with an open, honest attitude toward writing is welcomed with open arms. I’ve submitted less since I’ve been a member, but have been grown so much as a writer that when I do submit, it is deliberate and my work is far more polished.

      Whenever you’re ready…

  6. Cate,
    I do believe we have a responsibility to support one another. Even if it just to read within our genre. During this time of economic strife, I still purchase books and continue to read. That is supporting the writing community. And yes, if one of my fellow AQer’s publishes, you bet I’ll shell out my bucks for a copy. You’re at the top of the list. Great blog article Cate.
    ~Lisa

    • Lisa, thanks for your wonderful words. Like you, I continue to buy books. If I am not willing to support others, I have no right to expect them to support me in return. Financially or otherwise!

      You get what you give…

  7. I think there’s different communities of writers under the “Writing Community” in general.

    I look at what goes on here in the blog world and believe that we are an cross-blog writing community that supports each other via advice, encouragement and sales upon release (though the numbers may not be staggaring)

    Different communities of writers probably have different roles, but that’s what I’ve seen the most since I’ve taken my writing life to the blogging world.

    I think there’s probably many answers to your question. I also think that if cheese were somehow able to merge with pickles, I’d be one of the happiest men on the planet. (yeah, I’ve got a pregnant woman’s apetite lol)

    • Void, nice take on the community scene. I think blogging is a very open and recipricol activity. Many writers turn to it for advice and inspiration. Critiquing is a different support network where the relationship is more sharply defined and harder to encounter. AQ is almost family-like in my experience and has a very unique pattern of give and take.

      I value each of these suburbs within my larger community. Each has a value and I try to give back to them all in various ways.

      And if I could merge pickles and cheese for you, I would. If for no other reason than that sounds delicious in its own right! And no, I’m not pregnant.

  8. I, too, will stand in line to buy the books when my AQ buddies get theirs in stores. I’ve bought a few books written by my new blog buddies over the last few months, and will buy more when they become available! This Writing Community (with capital letters) really does rock 🙂

    • Jemi,

      I love getting introduced by books I never would have known were out there. Being a part of a bigger community than my local bookstore has opened my eyes to writers who don’t garner the end cap support yet. I love finding these gems and happily support them.

  9. Pingback: Thank You For Sharing « Greenwoman

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