Community, Community, Community

When I began working as a full time writer, I realized I needed to connect with others in the profession. I went online hoping to find information about live writing groups in my area. Instead I found a budding online community of Christian writers.

First it was an email group, then a blog. A discussion board followed, and there I stayed for a long, long time—until more and more of the participants deserted to start their own blogs. At long last, I caved and started A Christian Worldview of Fiction. Only to discover an excellent community growing up here. And at another writer’s forum, which led to the formation of the CSFF Blog Tour (and Spec Faith) and a greater community.

Why this little trot down Memory Trail? I mentioned in my last promotion post, Going to the Dogs Again, that an author’s best bet in promoting through online sources is through “organic discussion.” This kind of communication is in contrast to a “mass market blogging” approach.

But who do you “discuss” with? Not strangers. You discuss with people you know or people who are interested in the same things you are. You discuss with your friends, those you work with, those you sit next to in church.

And online? You discuss with those in community: group blogs, bloggers you meet on tours, email groups, discussion forums, online book clubs. There are probably other options, too. The point is, the chance to connect with others in a meaningful way has expanded beyond the furtherest reaches of my imagination.

But with so many voices clamoring for attention, does anyone listen?

We’re back to the many dogs yammering analogy. People listen if they care.

One way to make people care is to speak about something vital. When my dog would bark in the middle of the night, he got my attention. No stranger should have been within his “danger range” to cause him to bark that deep-throated warning bark of his, so if he woof-woofed his loudest, it was vital that I listen.

People also care if they are engaged with others. The first writer’s forum I went to was by invitation—someone I already knew told me about it and suggested I stop by. One of the email loops I’m on came about because of people I met at a writer’s conference. Later, I joined a writing group, and became involved in their forums, because of a blogger/writer I met at a conference.

Of course, the reverse happens, too. As I enter into discussions, I make friends with those I’ve never actually met. But their ideas influence me. I respect their opinions. What they say matters.

The drawback to all this community involvement, of course, is that it is time consuming. But aren’t booksignings and speaking engagements time consuming as well?

And now I realize, my time today is half past up, so I’ll continue this another day.

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