If you’re new to WU, you may not be aware that today’s poster, Vaughn Roycroft, plays two key roles within Writer Unboxed. He’s the leader of the Mod Squad, which keeps our community on Facebook both congenial and a promo-free zone. He also culls the best craft-related posts written by WU’s readership—that’s you—and shares them with our Writer Inboxed newsletter subscribers on a bimonthly basis. (Our July-August letter will be published very soon, but there’s still time to sign up–right here.) We appreciate him and his contributions tremendously. Really. He’s a gem.
Now back to Vaughn. Enjoy!
My Confucian Pebble:
My first post for Writer Unboxed appeared here a bit over a year ago. It was titled, Community—What’s In It For Me, and it was one of the first essays I’d ever written. In the article, I make the case that individual voices gain power through community. I wrote: “If each of us is a lone pebble dropped into a pond, we create one series of circular ripples. But a handful (or tribe-full) of flung pebbles striking at once creates a series of circles, some greater than others, overlapping and far-reaching. Together we can really stir things up.”
For me, the post itself was a Confucian pebble. It stirred things up—particularly in the realm of blogging. I enjoyed the experience of connecting with so many of my tribe-mates in what was then a new milieu for me. A month or so later I started my own blog. Since then I’ve published over thirty articles there, written a half-dozen guest-posts, and been interviewed by two other WU tribe-mates for their blogs. And the ripples roll.
Also since that first community post, WU successfully launched Writer Inboxed, the WU newsletter (for which I am honored to be a contributor), and the WU Facebook Group’s membership has more than doubled in size. Rereading the first article, I was clearly aware of the benefits of community. I knew there was power in connectivity. I just didn’t know its extent.
I still don’t. I continue to be an amazed observer and participant in our joint experiment in tribe-building. And when you’re unboxed, there are no limits.
Far-flung Fellows Become Fast Friends:
WUers can be found from coast to coast in North America, and come from more than a dozen other countries. While watching the world news one night, my wife wryly said, “So who do you know from there?” I must have looked baffled, so she went on to explain that I so often announce the name of a WUer who hails from the current newsworthy corner of the globe, she’s come to expect it.
WU has spawned hundreds of personal connections that have led to friendships. And many extend beyond mere social media followings. Members come together beyond the WU group page and blog. They connect on Facebook and Twitter, on blogs and at conferences. The group has spawned critique partnerships and beta swaps, and even several subgroups to serve various functions or connect in various venues.
There’s Growth and then There’s Growth:
We haven’t just grown larger as a group. I’ve witnessed some amazing personal growth, too. Members—including me—have met mentors and editors, as well as esteemed publishing colleagues. These links have furthered careers and nurtured artistic progress. All it takes, as I point out in my first post on community, is a willingness to reach out—to get involved. But it must be done with reciprocation, restraint, humility, and patience. As is the case when shepherding any friendship, we reap what we have sown.
As an example of the unique feelings of connection the group fosters, I give you the first annual Writer Unboxed Conference.
Oh, it hasn’t happened yet. The idea has been bandied about before, but this past winter it came up again on the group page. When WU blog mama Therese asked for feedback, the thread exploded with scores of comments and hundreds of likes. The outpouring made it clear that many of us want to take our virtual friendships to another level by going live. (Therese butts in for a second to say that things look very good for this to become an actuality. More later…)
Watching the Waves Roll:
With each new issue of the newsletter, I have the opportunity to discuss the benefits derived from our writing community. It’s made me a bit more than a simple participant. I’m an interested and biased observer—a proactive advocate, if you will. And I heartily enjoy the role.
It’s like sitting on my bench atop the dune, overlooking the shore. I watch ripples begin on the WU blog and group page, then become waves. I’ve seen tribe-mates become friends, and for those friendships to flourish in wonderful and unexpected ways. I’ve witnessed guest-post swaps and the birth of blogging collaborations. I’ve seen agent-pitching opportunities created and shared, and query letter workshops, and opening-paragraph-critique sessions. I’ve seen friends volunteer to edit the works of others, in preparation for an oncoming deadlines. I see friends offering encouragement, commiseration, and camaraderie on a daily basis.
Some waves are bigger and more powerful than others, but even the small ones shimmer and sparkle when they catch the light. Be they cresting whitecaps or rolling swells, they are all lovely to behold.
Tribal Tidal Waves:
I was particularly moved by two recent instances of community outreach and support. Two WU members found themselves in difficult straits due to health issues. Both needed financial support. In response, dozens of WU members stepped up to offer what they could—to the cumulative result of thousands of dollars raised. It’s what friends do for one another, but these tribal waves are more like surging tsunamis. And they fill this biased community observer’s heart to overflowing. I consider myself blessed to have found my tribe.
How about you? Have your pebble ready? Have you created any ripples? Is your community making waves?