Friday afternoon, I attended a Writer’s Conference that fellow authors in Little Rock knew about, the local SCA group knew about, but that none of the NWA writing groups that I am part of knew about. And it was in my NWA back-yard, so to speak. Perhaps the genre was wrong, I supposed, though when I attended the event, both pulp fiction and sci-fi/fantasy had equal floor space. Had I known of the event in advance, I would have loved to have been a speaker or at least have had a table to display Mother Confessor, perhaps even pre-sell Carley Patrol, since IT WILL be finished and available on Amazon.com later this summer.
I think one conversation I had at the conference makes my point. There was a (consider the source) young man from Ft. Smith (if he sees this and gives me permission, I’ll be happy to plug him, but for CMA purposes at the moment…) who said he wrote on his own because there was no one in his area (Ft. Smith!!) who wrote what he wrote. Another author, a young mother from (if memory serves) the Kibler area (I may be thinking of her editor and press, and my apologies to anyone who feels misrepresented) who knew about local Christian, memoir, and western writers groups but nothing else. I encouraged both to seek out contacts through other NaNoWriMo.org writers in their area. I told both “there are people out there who write what you write.”
I do, however, know their pain. It’s hard to find a community that “gets you,” writing or not, without putting yourself out there. A lot. Especially in small town burgeoning places in Arkansas. Or in the South. Or maybe it’s also really hard in fast-paced places like NY,NY, where everyone else has either made it or is struggling to get by, and it seems like if YOU try to start something, YOU will have to be in charge. Or if YOU join another group, you will have to follow rules or conventions of the group. And that ideology is not limited to the writing field — not at all.
On the flip side, how do you find people out there if you are too scared to go looking for them? Writers, especially the majority of introverted ones, often face this conundrum. But online communities — heck, FB, people!! — are out there with lonely people who gain strength in numbers every time someone leaves a positive comment or hits that dinky little “Like” button (the smaller, but mightier, “Share” button is even better). With strength comes confidence, or vice versa. The world gets just a little bit smaller and less scary-looking. And everyone I know owes it to him or herself to lead or join something — to be part of something.
So until I have all the answers, or at least invitations to all the major author’s conferences in the tri-state area, I’ll keep showing up and joining up and trying to juggle the circles. I hope you will, too. If we both spread the word, we can help each other make it happen. We are not alone in the universe — we’re not even alone in Podunk.