2015 promised great things. As the year opened I believed the Randolph Writers had a great year ahead. I had a vice president who, I believed, would be an asset as a community liaison, we had events lined up to bring the writing of our members (and other writers of the county) to the community, and I still had the gusto (I thought) to make it all work.
And then reality hit.
My vice president became ill and was no longer able to continue on, and no one seemed at all interested in our events at the local coffee joint, the Coffee Xchange. By July I realized the community didn’t care that much about coming out on Friday nights to see a writer read from selected works. It may have been the look on the face of a teenage boy who made his friends stay long enough to hear the guest author read her first selection that finally made me see the truth. He was both intrigued and longing to get away, while I was both mortified and deeply disappointed. It was at this moment I realized I was going after a lost cause, a dream that would never be made a reality. So I pondered what to do.
You see I know this blog post isn’t cool. It’s just not considered good form to call out a community for their lack of participation. It’s also considered in bad taste to call out your own members for not showing up, but let’s be honest; if you don’t even care what your group is doing why should anyone else?
When I agreed to take on this gig, I saw so much potential in this struggling little group that most people in Randolph County had never heard of. I didn’t listen to the warnings of the woman who’d done the same thing I was about to do for so long when she told me I would be on my own. The truth is, I didn’t believe her. In my naïve mind I thought she was merely disenchanted. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could call himself/herself a writer and not be entirely devoted to the craft? Sadly, through loss of membership and lackadaisical attendance I found every warning she’d delivered to be true. Turns out people do put things before their writing. Who knew!
But I’m not entirely on my own. Even without the support of the community as a whole, or high attendance (or membership) numbers, I have managed to begin to build a community. The Randolph Writers has a few very dedicated, and super fantastic, members that keep us afloat, and I have discovered what could be the answer to growing as a group and, selfishly, as an independent writer.
No, I don’t mean social media networking. Believe it or not, while you have the entire world at your fingertips, you are still quite limited in your reach. You have to stay local. Make friends with other authors. Go to author events; book signings, seminars, presentations, etc. Tuesday, January 19, 2016, I attended a presentation by author Angel Matthews being held at the Asheboro Library. I must admit, I was most interested because her book touches on the American Civil War and features a female character, albeit fictional, who fought alongside Gen. John S. Mosby. However, in going to her event I was able to, 1) support a local author, 2) open a dialogue with her, and 3) give her my business card in order to (hopefully) build a relationship with her as an author.
We’re all in this together.
You don’t sign a six-figure deal just because you write a book. I think only 1% - 3% of the writing population gets that lucky. If you’re among the lot of them I applaud you, but for most of us we’re stuck working a day job while forever making our way toward that big dream. Moderate success is all that awaits most of us, but we will only achieve that with the help of other writers (and, of course, readers).
Wendy Laura Belcher says, “Without community, writing is inconceivable.” She’s right. We can sit alone in our writing rooms or at the kitchen table with our laptops banging out story after story, but without human connection it is all for naught. Think of networking as building blocks. With each connection you make you stand to go higher.
So get up from your desk now and then, attend a writing event, or just go out with some of your writing pals. Meet new people! Go to a conference (if you can afford it) or join a “meetup”. You’d be surprised how many writing events go on around the Piedmont. As writers it is far too easy for us to stay indoors and block out the rest of the world. Facebook and Twitter will only get you so far, and with only 3%-10% of your followers and friends seeing your posts that distance is, sadly, measurable.
Get up, get out, and get to meeting people! You never know what the next handshake or laughter over a cocktail will bring.
Next month: Getting Serious About Your Writing