Why do we need this community thing anyway?

Ally Community, What's CP?, Writing 5 Comments

When I decided to make The Cerulean Project a reality and asked some of my dearest friends to join me, I had no idea the chaos my personal life would stumble into within only a few weeks. What had been intended to be a passion project has turned into a lifeline.

Funny how karma can take us in that direction, isn’t it?

In the midst of trying to piece together the bits left behind, I realized that answering the question of “why we need a community in the first place?” has gotten a lot easier.

Because we need each other.

I can wax poetic about the importance of craft, the necessity of rewriting, the requirement of critique…but in truth, the most important part of building a community around our work is so when the shit hits the fan, we have folks who’ll help hold us together.

We are not islands. We are not lone wolves. We are not special snowflakes.

But writing can feel that way, can’t it? Hours spent staring at a screen, pounding out words while nurturing loved ones and avoiding distractions may suggest that surely we’re the only weirdo trying to follow our dreams, but the truth is that we’re part of a huge network of wordsmiths who are doing the exact same things and can totally relate.

We just don’t know each other yetβ€”and The Cerulean Project is here to change that.

See, when we hit those low points in our writing–or in the ebb and flow of life as karma decides to take us on a “shortcut”–we need those who understand to remind us that we can do this. That we didn’t start down this path on a lark. That the passion that’s waning is the very spark we can kindle again.

Without each other, we might make it, but the likelihood increases considerably when we build a community of like-minded folks who have similar goals.

So as a famous book once stated, “May the odds be ever in your favor,” which is best done when we get to know one another on a personal level.

A little intimidating, I know, but I’ll go first, okay?

My name’s Ally Bishop. I’m a writer. I’ve been plying my craft since I was eight, I’ve got two degrees in the dang stuff, and I’m also a professional editor and have taught creative writing at the college level. But that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle to improve my craft like everyone else. Add to that my flawed status as a human being, my severe (diagnosed) ADHD, and my inability to not take on more than I should, and guess what…you have a crazed fellow word-wrangler.

I love this craft, despite how often I rage with frustration when I get caught in a tough spot. (Sound familiar?) But without writing, I wouldn’t know who I am, and with it, I’m a better version of me. And I believe the stories that torture our souls to action are the very things that can change the world we live in.

How could I do any less than continue to improve on my art…and evolve as a person as a result?

Why do you need a community?

Because we all need to belong. We all need a soft place to land. We all need to write the story of our deepest passions and grow as people.

Seems like a win-win to me. How about you?

Genre fiction can change the world, my friend. And it’s up to us to make sure it does.

Comments 5

  1. I’m feeling a tad contrary this morning. After all, it is Monday. I completely agree that community is important in any endeavor. If it weren’t true, team sports and network marketing would not remain so popular.

    However, the more I travel this writing trail, the surer I am that some number of our fellow-travelers are, in fact, along for the journey as a lark. Writing a book or publishing any sort of story, to them, is a bucket list item.

    The advent of self-publishing has been a godsend for authors who struggled to publish through (previously) traditional means. However, it’s also thrown open the library doors to the American Idol generation, the “If you can dream it, you can do it” tribe.

    I’m a firm believer that we humans can do most things we put our minds to. But I also adhere to the line Clint Eastwood uttered in one of the Dirty Harry films, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I would really like to play the saxophone. Although I’m pretty sure that no matter how long I practiced, how long I hung out with other sax players (if I could find any who would put up with my off-key renditions), I’m never going to be a good saxophone player. And by that I mean I’m never going to be good enough to record my own jazz album and get people to buy it. Sure, I can take up the sax as a hobby, but that’s a whole other thing.

    Why should it be any different for writing a book?

    What I am NOT saying is that those who feel the compulsion to write should not do so, but do you see where I’m going with this? Some of us are writers. Some of us are storytellers. And some of us (although probably not me) are blessed to be both. And equally true, in my opinion, is that some are neither. I’ve come across a number of folks who are infatuated with the idea of being a writer. It’s a romantic notion. Others believe (erroneously, I think) that anyone can write.

    Getting back to the community thing, it took me belonging to several writing and critique groups to realize how far I had to go – how much work I needed to do – in order to reach the point of being a decent writer. Back at the beginning of the writing trail, others told me how special I was, how good my writing was, how I needed to be a writer. I believed them, too. Boy, am I glad self-publishing wasn’t around then. That would’ve been really embarrassing!

    After all that contrariness, I suppose I’m agreeing with you. Writing communities are important. Not just for providing all the support mechanisms highlighted in your blog, but also as checkpoints. If you believe all the writers blogs and community posts and full-sized books on the subject, all writers struggle with self-doubt. In fact, I believe it’s the ones who struggle with self-doubt who have the best chance of making it. Self-doubt is the sign of someone who is aware enough to honestly gauge their own ability in a particular endeavor.

    I’m not going to make out like writing is rocket science. Still, I watched The Martian last night. The film’s story line, plot and setting reaffirmed for me that I could never be an astronaut – unless I was unconscious about ninety percent of the time. I get seasick, so the take offs and landings (and much of the flight and weightlessness) would be terrible. I’m not good at math, so it would be hard for me, in a life or death situation, to come up with a mathematical solution to save myself or others. I’m not very mechanical, so trying to modify something in order to make something else out of it would likely end badly.

    Still, if I could figure out a way to get past my physical limitations . . . I could write about the experience in a way that would bring readers to tears. After all, I’m a writer, right?

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      Author

      You are totally allowed to be contrary! And I enjoyed reading your thoughts. We agree on quite a few points. πŸ˜€ That’s what we’re here to talk about, and those are very, very valid points. We’ll be discussing them tonight during the Round Table Discussion. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, Michael. They are welcome anytime. πŸ™‚

  2. I agree. We need communities to keep us going. I know there are times when I felt like giving up. Before, I used to will myself to keep at it, but willpower can only go so far. We need each other to encourage and spur each other on. I am fortunate enough to be a part of a couple communities online, and am looking forward to expanding and joining more, online and in-person.

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      Author
  3. This is, without hyperbole, my first writing community. I suspect that a community can vary from extreme toxicity to truly empowering. But I gravitate toward healthy relationships with brilliant people.

    Because of my interaction with Ally and a few others, I’ve grown immensely. Not just as a writer, but also in regards to trying to learn what is going on in the heads of other’s.

    I’ve been writing since I was seven. I dug up an old typewriter in my parent’s attic and the *cha-chunk* of the keys compelled me. I wrote an alternate ending to Pit and the Pendulum on it when I was 9 and that was that. I was in love.

    Perhaps finding a kind, brilliant, constructive writing group is as big a step as finding that type writer?

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