How Community Boosts Me
This is an updated version of a post that originally appeared in the June 2019 edition of my newsletter Readiculous Musings. You can subscribe for it HERE.
It is the one month anniversary of WICKED FOX coming out. So, I think I am feeling a bit nostalgic and I am thinking a lot about what has brought me to this point. And one of the biggest factors was having a good community around me. Now I know that this phrase can be vague, especially to people just joining the writing and the publishing worlds. So, I thought I’d break down what types of communities there are and then give a few examples of how those communities have boosted me and helped me get to debut!
First, there is the macro level of the greater writing community. This community is all over the world and really only gets together during big events (such as Book Con, which I was lucky enough to attend this month!). Mostly, they interact online. So, you’ll find a lot of conversations happening on Twitter. This is great because it provides access to those who don’t have the physical, mental, or financial ability to travel to the big conferences each year. You can get advice from other writers or industry professionals, connect with new friends, and even pitch your manuscript in fun Twitter pitch events! This was my first introduction into the writing world. When I found writing Twitter, I was mostly silent, learning from those who came before me and their wise conversations. Then I slowly dipped my toe in over time. It gave me a chance to process my opinions on big topics and how I wanted to exist within the community.
Then, there is the more “medium” level of community. The one where you have something more specific connecting everyone in the group. This could be the genre you write, how you identify as a writer or person, or even just geographical location. I am personally in a few groups. One is for DVPit alumni (authors who found their agents or editors on the Twitter pitch event #DVPit), I’m also in a group for Asian authors, and then a group for authors debuting in the year 2019. It’s been great because sometimes your experiences are very specific and it’s nice to get people who can understand that and talk it out with you! All of these groups also live online (specifically in facebook groups). But I do know of some that utilize chat apps like Slack! This type of community gave me a chance to work out some of my more complicated feelings on things (such as my identity as a WOC and how I wanted to incorporate my Asian identity into my writing). It also gave me a chance to ask more nuanced questions on a forum other than Twitter.
Amazing DVPit alumni at a a panel at Porter Square Books!
Then there are the smaller groups, often they are critique groups. This can be anywhere from 2 to 20 people. And they are often the ones that you share your more personal ups and downs with. Also you share you manuscript with them so they can give you feedback! I love these groups because they are a safe space for a writer. They let us vent with no judgement and they know us better so they understand more innately why we think the way we do. Also, they help make our writing better! This type of group helped me build my skills in my writing as well as work out how I wanted to go about doing the nitty gritty like querying agents!
Finally, there are the small, tight, very personal groups. These are the people who know you inside and out. The people who are not just your critique partners but your friends who you would fight for through thick and thin. This is what my group of writing friends are to me. We call ourselves a lot of things. The more zany one being “writer cult” but the one we’re more widely known as is Writer’s Block Party (we have a blog of the same name). These ladies don’t just know about my writing, they know about my life. They know about tragedies I’ve gone through and joys I’ve experienced both in the publishing industry and outside of it. This type group is not necessarily common. So, I always tell people that it’s not necessary to have a group like WBP to survive the publishing industry. But, one of the reasons we bonded so wellwas our love of books and writing. We also didn’t immediately become as close as we are today. We built these friendships over years. I was just talking to one of the girls in the group about how the longest relationship (outside of family because Axie and I have known each other for 20+ years) is about 5 years. And most of us are just nowbeing published. So, that was a long journey together fighting for the same dream. It matters that we’ve been through it all together, because we have someone who understands all we’ve been through and has stuck by our side through it all! This type of group helped me survive. Not only writing, but life in general. They are my rock through everything I’ve been through the last three years!