A couple years ago, I was preparing for an hour-long, solo author appearance at a local bookstore to promote The River City Chronicles. I was writing down all my ideas, along with a list of the websites Mark and I have created over the last twenty years, and a common theme emerged.
All my life, I’ve searched for people to connect with. First as a gawky teenager, hanging out with the rest of the geeks at lunch under the gnarled old pine tree on our high school campus in Tucson.
Then I looked for other writers, helping to form one writing group and then another.
And finally with Mark, building web directories to help bring travelers and innkeepers, home buyers and realtors, and queer couples and wedding vendors together.
As I’ve moved into the professional writing world, I’ve sought out and created communities for queer readers and writers and for spec fic lovers and authors.
We live in a world marked more by the things that divide us than by those which bring us together. Red and blue, have and have-not, black and white, vax and anti-vaxx. There’s profit in driving these wedges deeper between us, and then skimming a bit off the top of our stoked rage with online advertising and pillow sales.
What has it brought us? Are you happier than you were five years ago? Better off? Do you feel satisfied after giving someone from the other side the dressing-down they so richly deserve?
There has to be a better way.
So in this season, between the holiday when we give thanks for what we have and the other one where we show everyone else how much we love and appreciate them, I’m reminding myself that I got to where I am now as an author because others helped me.
Someone beta read my stories and gave me comments that greatly improved them before submission. Someone else took a chance on me and bought my first sale. Several folks joined me to make our communities on Facebook work, and another author helped me figure out how to format my first indie-pubbed book, and how to submit it to Amazon. At every step of the way, my author, editor and publisher friends have taken time to help me figure it all out.
Along the way, I’ve returned the favor wherever I can. We all do better when we help one other.
There are still people in this world who see value in reaching out and helping others in need. Community still matters, no matter what the 24 hour news cycle and those incessant notification beeps on our phones try to tell us.
So heading into 2022, I am dedicating myself to building instead of tearing down. Not just in my writing circles, but in my life in general too. The world is bleak – covid, climate change, partisan extremism – all at a time when we need to come together more than ever.
We are all a community. We make choices large and small every day that either help build it up or tear it down.
I’ve got a wheelbarrow full of bricks and a bucket of mortar, and I’m ready to do some building.
Who’s with me?