Why Writing Communities are Important

The stereotype of the solitary writer is firmly ingrained in our culture. And, in truth, we are all alone when we write, even if we meet up with other writers to write in a group. However, being a writer with no writing community is a certain path to fast burnout, and can lead to depression and isolation.

Having other writers around to understand the pain of rejections, to help walk you through the minefield of publishing, to simply understand the joy of finding the right title for your book, is undeniable. But there is another asset to being part of a writing community: creativity.

Simply being in a group of other writers can charge my batteries. Start throwing ideas around, and the buzz is almost a roar. Synergy does exist, and sometimes a passing comment from another writer can spark an idea or a solution to a creative problem.

I now have 4 publishing credits to my name, and none of them would have come about without my writing community. At first glance, my short story, TO LIGHT AND GUARD (adult psychological horror), my novel, OZCILLATION (a middle grade sci-fi retelling of the Wizard of Oz), and my short story, DYING BREATH (YA contemporary) have little in common, other than my byline. However, every one of them was sparked by a writing prompt exercise in classes with Jonathan Maberry. (In case you are wondering, the prompts were: “Write what scares you most,” “Rewrite when Dorothy meets the Scarecrow in a different genre,” and “Combine these two ideas: organ transplant and Afghanistan.”)

My fourth publishing credit is a poem, THE TOWERS STOOD, and it is an example of how a writing community can expand your knowledge base. I rarely write poetry, but wrote this and felt it was strong. A friend in the writing community, Diane Sismour, pointed me to a poetry anthology that was a perfect fit (World Healing, World Peace 2014). And with my novel, OZCILLATION, Jonathan Maberry once again weighed in, suggesting I try Evil Jester Press, where it has now found a home. In both cases, I had no knowledge of either outlet, and so my writing community became my extended brain.

A writing community stirs the creative pot and helps us through the publishing maze, but most of all, a community gives us a safe place to experiment with our writing. They will catch us when we fall, and cheer us when we succeed.

I am very lucky to be a part of the vibrant writing community that has grown up from the seeds planted in Doylestown almost 10 years ago. Under the nurturing wings of The Liars Club members, this community has grown and flourished, bound together by the single ideal that we will get farther working together than we will alone—that a rising tide lifts all boats. From what I have witnessed over the years, that seems to be the case. Many success stories are rolling in from this community, and I’m sure there are many more to follow.

How about you? How has your writing community (or lack of one) impacted your career or writing life?

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World Healing, World Peace 2014 Poetry Anthology

I don’t normally write poetry.

One day, however, I was taking my daily walk when phrases started coming to me. They repeated themselves and grew. By the time I had finished my walk, a whole poem was in my head. As soon as I could, I wrote it down. I revised a little. I stared at it. I wondered, “Now what do I do with it?”

Honestly, I wasn’t even sure it was a poem. And even if it was, I had no idea if it was any good. My practical brain wanted to just put it away somewhere to gather dust because “You don’t write poetry, Ker.”

But it wouldn’t leave me alone. I felt like it was something, you know?

So I sent it to a friend, Diane Sismour, who is poet. I asked her if it was even a poem, and what she thought. She thought not only was it a poem, but it had a powerful message. And she said, “I know an anthology this would be perfect for.”

Really? An anthology? For this poem that just fell out of my head fully formed and demanding attention? Okay. No harm in sending it in.

Enter the World Healing, World Peace 2014 poetry anthology (available now). This is a 2-volume work with many poets in it (including Diane), and the focus is on world peace, world unity, and human rights. The publisher’s goal is to get 2 copies into the hands of the United Nations delegates, and one copy to every member of the US Congress. The publisher wants the voices of the poets to be heard, because we have something to say.

It is a worthy cause, and I am proud to be a part of it. This is not an opportunity I looked for, but rather a case of the right poem meeting the right person at the right time. This experience is the reason I encourage all writers to write in different formats, as the spirit moves them. Experiment. Spread your wings.

You never know what will fly.

If you are interested in the World Healing, World Peace initiative and want to see how you can help and be involved, check out the website.

Have you ever written something outside your zone that had success that surprised you?

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