No Man Is an Island

Or, Being part of a writing community

It has seemed increasingly clear to me over the last couple days that there is not much of a way to avoid becoming part of a community if I want to do anything to push my own work (aside from simply putting it on Amazon and letting people find it or not as they will). 

I will be honest here and say that if I thought I could succeed at anything like an acceptable time frame, that I probably would not bother.  In part because I am lazy unless I have a very good reason not to be, and being part of an online (or otherwise, for that matter) community takes at least some time and effort, and in part because I am reflexively anti-social.  But acquiring readers via social networking involves using Twitter and reaching out to bloggers, and gaining Twitter followers is more than just tweeting–it’s also following people and connecting to people in the established community to get them to follow you and put their followers onto you–and making connections with bloggers involves a degree of reciprocity. 

There is a sharp dividing line between the authors who were first published since Twitter existed, and those who were published beforehand; all the former are on Twitter and almost none of the latter are.  Even the people published by the big publishers have to do the social media rounds (there we hear my inner luddite, saying “have to,” proof that, despite my comfort with blogging and the ease with which I have picked up Twitter, I am not quite part of the digital generation who believes in putting everything in their lives online and putting everything into their online lives.  Part of me misses the old mystique of the writer sitting alone in a bar in Mexico, drinking and causing shenanigans and scrawling out pages in the depths of the night lit only by the flickering candle and compelled to stop when the candle burned out and never getting published until after his hard death of despair). 

As much as a group of like-minded people can be a source of encouragement and inspiration, there is also a danger in getting sucked too far into the inevitable navel-gazing of a community that is comprised of people with similar interests.  So I feel very self-conscious about it all.  I am engaging in activities I would not if I felt I could avoid them, but I don’t want to be half-hearted about it, but neither do I want to be distracted from my real purpose which is to write good stories people want to read.

One of the most interesting articles that has thus far popped up in my Twitter feed is one discussing the difference between wanting to be read, and wanting to be published. I think that for me, the important part is being read.  That is what was behind the decision to try indie before trying traditional publisher, after all–the belief that if I can get people to read once, then they will come back over and over and keep reading. 

The only trick is getting them to read in the first place…and that takes a village.


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