Change of Plans

Wow! A Liebster Blog Award has come my way, courtesy of Michelle Reynoso at My Writing Life. Thanks so much, Michelle!

I had a post ready to go today, but in light of the award, I feel compelled to write about something else: community. Yes. Bear with me . . .

Turns out that community has a range of definitions. Maybe a neighborhood first comes to mind—a group of people living together in one place, in harmony and good will. Community also means people bound together by race, religion, profession, or common interest. That one’s closer to what I have in mind. (These are coming from my dashboard dictionary, so you may come up with others.)

The third and most striking definition is this: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

This definition best fits a community of writers like the MNINBers, literally scattered across the globe. Proximity doesn’t bind us. Our common “profession” does, but we also share interests, goals, and a spirit of fellowship that transcends boundaries of time and place. (Mightn’t we also add space here, since our connections are mostly in cyberspace?)

Before the April MNINB platform challenge, maybe some of us were acquaintances or friends, or we were familiar with each other’s blogs or writing projects. For the most part, though, I suspect we were a bunch of strangers thrown together by a common goal: to build community, not just among our writerly selves but among readers, as well. It seems to me that friendships begun in the context of completing our tasks during the APC strengthened even after the challenge ended. We continue to cheer each other on.

As we share, we learn more about each other. And as we learn, we share on a deeper level. We’re happy when one of us succeeds, and we’re sad when rejections come along. Regardless, we are there, and our little community of writers will survive and make a difference.

In that spirit, I get to pass on the Liebster Blog Award! Here are the rules.

1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back (done, above).

2. Nominate five blogs with less than 200 followers (below).

3. Let the nominees know by leaving a comment at their sites (in process).

4. Add the award image to your site (done, with pleasure).

Here are my nominees for the Liebster Blog Award:

Joy Weese Moll     Joy’s Book Blog

Veronica Roth    Veronica Roth: Well then…this is a life moment…isn’t it

Kim Bussey     Purrfect Tale

E. B. Pike    Writerlious     

Kasey Whitener    Life on Clemson Road

So fellow bloggers, I know we’re beyond the challenge, but here’s your call to action: Perform one small act today that extends your writing or artist community in some way. There. Doesn’t that feel good?

A Platform Is Something You Stand On

writing notes

I’m writing this post as an assignment after being away from the blog for too long. Every time I’ve logged on lately and have seen the dates of my last posts, I’ve felt embarrassed and a little panicky. Should I give up the blog entirely? How will I carve out the time to write frequently, or at least regularly, without neglecting what I feel I really ought to be about, and that’s revising the novel and working on short stories?

Seeking answers, I’ve been participating in Robert Lee Brewer’s Platform Challenge during the month of April. Robert has created a series of exercises intended to help writers wrangle their online presence into shape. In the process I’ve done more Facebooking and tweeting and read more blogs than I could have imagined. It seems a “platform”—significant interaction with others (on the Internet and otherwise) with the purpose of building a following—is necessary these days, even before you publish a book.

The challenge has been fun and revealing. Here’s what I’ve learned about myself: I’m afraid I’m something of an Internet junkie; I don’t know when to quit or how to protect my writing time. That’s an important discovery. Along with learning how to connect with others, I need some self-discipline!

Robert’s post yesterday on how he handles social media helps. He makes a “task list” for his day and sticks with it. He allows himself social media time in 15 minute increments scattered throughout his day, and only when he’s completed a task. That sounds reasonable to me. I’ll give that a try.

Meanwhile, a new short story swirls in my brain and won’t leave me alone. The novel-in-progress nags for attention. My other lives—as wife, grandmother, chief cook, housekeeper, gardener (not to mention reader)—call me away from the writing work. And it’s spring, about the only time of the year when it’s pleasant to sit outside and read a book or daydream or let that story idea take shape. I live in Mississippi. Another six weeks, and you won’t be able to breathe when you step outside.

So here’s my resolve: I plan to return to the blog on a regular basis. I’ll try to make my posts more relevant to the writing life I live. But I will also try to accomplish this on a schedule, along with generally managing my online time better.

Visit Robert Lee Brewer’s blog, My Name Is Not Bob. You’ll find his April challenges— creating a platform and also a poetry challenge for the month of April (April is poetry month, after all)—and lots of other interesting information for the writing life there.

If any of you who read this have comments or suggestions regarding time management, I welcome the conversation! Now let’s get off the ‘net and go to work. Cheers.