On Finding Community
Last night, I had a dream about the writing community. I know what you're thinking—a dream is so cliche! But I'm allowed cliches, this is my blog. And anyway, it's true, I did have a dream.
In the dream, I was in what looked like my old classroom, the place where I taught first graders how to read many years ago. I was sitting at a small wooden table normally reserved for the kids, studying another writer's work, a gorgeously crafted piece, when I realized there was another person sitting next to me at the table, and it was my friend and fellow writer, Amy Marques. We talked about the piece a bit, and how we might emulate some of those same impressive craft elements in our own writing. After awhile, I was working alone, and she was just waiting for me—which isn't surprising, Amy's a whiz (although in reality she would be painting or creating an erasure or some other amazing thing, never just sitting there!)
Anyway, here's where the dream gets interesting. As Amy was waiting, a huge black photo album suddenly appeared, and I handed it to her to flip through. In the album were pictures of a ton of writers we know and love (insert your name here, if you're reading this we know and love you), and everyone was dressed up, super fancy and sparkly, kind of like we were all stars walking the red carpet. And (this is how I know it was a dream) I had an impressively thick, long slicked-back ponytail just like J.Lo, my "dream" hair. Yes, my dream hair in a dream! Anyway, you could tell from the pictures in the album it really wasn't about being dressed up, and no one cared about my hair (or their own) because everyone had huge, genuine smiles on their faces, everyone was just glowing with creative energy, and I had such a warm, happy feeling inside and was all floaty and then...
I woke up.
It took me a moment to orient myself. At first, I only remembered the classroom, and I felt a loss, an empty feeling. I'm not a teacher anymore, I thought. No colleagues to talk with every day. No stories to tell. Then, as I fully woke up, I remembered the rest of the dream.
And I was filled with a profound feeling of gratitude.
Because, as a writer, I do have community. We have community. And honestly, even though writing is in many ways a solo pursuit, even though we're not at an office or a school together everyday, exchanging stories, even though we aren't (at least, I'm not) walking the red carpet with glittery clothes and J.Lo hair, I feel connected to all of you, the writing community, in a way that feels authentic and vulnerable and honest and warm, and real.
We're all teachers here, and we're all students. We continue to learn and stretch and grow every day, if we challenge ourselves to develop our craft. If we reach out and connect.
If you're not feeling the love right now, we're here for you. There are so many ways to connect with other writers, to feel supported. Create a Twitter or Instagram account and follow other writers, you'll be surprised how welcoming the community is. If social media's not your speed, no problem—join a class or find a local writing group. There are countless ways to build community. If you still not sure, please message me here (or privately) and I'll be happy to help!