Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Community and Isolation

Our topic this go-round is that of isolation and community. Those are sort of opposites, but they make sense as a writer. Writing is a solitary task. Most of my days I am alone, in my house, with two dogs and a cat to keep me company as I try to put a bunch of words on the paper. Some days it isn't easy, but I'm used to it. Do I seek out a community?
I did at one time. When my first book came out in 1998, the internet did not exist. We didn't even own a computer. So  social networking wasn't even invented, let alone a part of my day. One of the first authors I met was John Coy, when we were both presenters at a young author's conference in Fergus Falls, MN, my home at the time. But time spent with other writers was rare.
Things had changed by 2008, when my first YA came out. I felt like I should join some online communities of other writers doing young adult. And I found myself sucked into this vortex of daily litanies and competition that reminded me far too much of people trying to sit by the most popular kids in the high school cafeteria. I could post that "The sky is blue!" and a dozen people would tell me why I was wrong and why they knew so much more about the sky.
I found that, more often than not, my time spent on that site left me feeling inadequate and left out and ticked off. Not exactly what one should gain from a community of "fellow" writers. I even was at a national conference, came across a circle of my online "friends", and found myself slinking away without saying hello because I was afraid. Afraid I wouldn't be welcomed. Something I hadn't felt like since I was a teenager. And I am far too old to let anyone make me feel that way.
 So I quit cold turkey. And decided that, if I was going to be part of an online community, it should be one that the writers were happy to be part of. One that they entered, and left, with a smile on their face or a bit of inspiration in their heart. At the very least, I wanted the others, and myself, to be able to give and receive support. And if I ever met those people in person, I would want to be welcomed with hugs and laughter, as I would welcome them.
My fellow Spuds do that. They teach me things. They continually inspire me to be better. They listen to what I have to say.
 Which is exactly what one should expect to get from a community of writers.
I love my fellow Spuds:)



Christy said...

Stephanie, I'm so glad you initiated and lead One Potato Ten. The kind of community that comes from sustained committment and people listening to each other is certainly the best kind of all. I have loved watching this grow among our group.

Lauren said...

Well said Stephanie-- and you brought us all together! Thank you!
I agree that a writer's community should be supportive and inspiring, thoughtful and open. I too find that with our Spuds.

Edie Hemingway said...

I couldn't have said it any better, Stephanie! I, too, am so happy and honored to be a part of the spuds.

David LaRochelle said...

I'm sorry that your first experience with an online group was so unpleasant, Stephanie. Ugh. What a wise move to distance yourself from them.

I'm part of an online YA listserve, and although mostly I'm a lurker, I find the people on that particular list to be supportive of each other.

And I will echo the thanks to YOU for starting our Potato Blog. This is indeed a very uplifting and inspiring group!

Mark said...

Stephanie, you are so right about being careful what groups you join. I've heard the same about some MFA programs -- the competition amongst students to publish can foster a combative relationship rather than a supportive one. Luckily, you've found (well, actually, "founded") at least one group where the members praise each other's accomplishments and efforts!

betsy woods said...

Stephanie, you have been a source for me. Thank you and thank you for believing in my work.