Community in the Wilderness: Searching for a Writer’s Group in the Wilds of the Web

“Why did you start a blog?”

It’s a question I get asked periodically by people who don’t write blogs. The honest answer is “platform”. It’s one of those buzzwords you can’t escape if you go to conferences, subscribe to newsletters, and generally stay abreast of the latest in writing and publishing. You hear it often enough that you begin to feel inadequate or inauthentic as a writer if you don’t have one. So, kicking and screaming I began a blog that focuses on fairy tales. It made the best sense because the YA series I’m working on is based on nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

At first, it was a chore. I agonized over the About Me section, trying to sounds both informative and pithy enough that other people would want to read it. I tried to look at it as my “trial by fire” because whatever I wrote would immediately be critiqued. At least that’s what I thought until I realized how hard it is to make your lone voice heard in the cacophony that is the blogosphere. But even when I wasn’t read, I felt as though each posting was a courageous effort to put myself out there–proof I was a writer each time I clicked Publish.

My best day was when, out of nowhere, a random person started following by blog. My initial reaction was, “Why are you following me?” But soon that gave way to real happiness and a renewed optimism in this process. Maybe blogging could be rewarding. Maybe I could grow to love it. Well, I was happy that I could at least find times to like it.

I kept writing. I also kept blogging and reveled in every new follower. I would post and click (too often) on the Stats page to see if my post was being viewed. Often I would be disappointed by the turnout. Sometimes I was surprised by what really got people’s attention. Nevertheless, I continued hoping to find the magic recipe of topic and writing that would make readers want another helping. Then I fell into what all bloggers can attest to.

Call it Blogger’s Blahs or Poster’s Paralysis, but I felt discouraged by the lack of interest and my lack of ideas. It came in waves, and then the Blahs ebbed because a new reader joined or a new comment would buoy me. The realization was almost anti-climactic. What I really wanted was not readership, I wanted community.

Deen Village Scotland

My search takes me everywhere

Blogs about how to find a writer’s group or a critique circle are endless. They have stories of writer’s being bestowed with the friendship of like-minded writers like the Commandments. It all sounds so warm and inviting, a stark contrast to the solitary clicking of cold computer keys. You’re encouraged to branch out, make connections, join clubs and all will fall into place. Well, after a few hits and misses and, just like the querying process, you’ll find the perfect match for you. It’s like blind group dating or “Naked and Afraid” writer’s edition.

My attempts to find my tribe have been mixed. I have one writer friend who is very dedicated to helping me with my writing and we’ve forged a friendship of respect and reciprocity that makes me believe in serendipity. But you learn early on that you need lots of eyes on your work.
The rest of my circle (non-writers all) have fallen away, unable to keep up with the back and forth of rewrites. For once I could say without fear of sounding clichéd—It’s a writer thing, you wouldn’t understand. So, my search continues. Blogs exist to create a virtual community, but eventually virtual isn’t enough.

Why did I start a blog? The short answer is to find more readers, but now I know it’s really to find more writers.

Why did you start a blog? Is it the same reason you keep blogging?

4 thoughts on “Community in the Wilderness: Searching for a Writer’s Group in the Wilds of the Web

  1. I believe I had the same reason as you. To find people who could read with a heart that understands writing, could give me feedback, and knew how to appreciate the written word -mine specifically. Haha

    • I think no matter what it is you do, all you really want is someone else to understand what you’re saying and how you’re feeling. As a writer it just becomes more immediate because our profession is so subjective. It’s reassuring to hear those understanding voices whether they agree with you or start a healthy debate. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Looking back, I feel glad that the first ever conference/workshop I attended as a writer was a small one. It was a great opportunity to actually interact with people on a personal level. I’m so very glad we became friends and critique partners. 🙂

    And I also hear you on needing several pairs of eyes on one’s manuscript. Definitely a not an easy journey to find like-minded people who can also give helpful feedback. Again, I feel lucky to have found an excellent group of writers in my city. I’m already learning a lot there, and the sense of camaraderie is wonderful.

    My reason for starting a blog is more nebulous. I almost prefer it when people don’t read my blog, because right now I’m enjoying having it as a place where I can go about blathering about anything and everything without having to hold myself accountable.

    Some day when I’m a published author, that will have to change. But right now the anonymity is simply too delightful to let go of.

    • I understand the pull of anonymity. It’s what keeps me off Facebook and Twitter, but it’s also something I have to fight against since I intend to be a respected and well-known author. Sadly, that means embracing the spotlight. I don’t know if I object to scrutiny or that I’m a person who dislikes having my privacy trampled but I’ll have to steel myself to both.

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