Writers Building Community — It’s Necessary
My favourite event to attend in Toronto over the past year is Liveations. It’s an invite-only gathering exclusively for artists started by a girl named Ri. What she does is connect organically with artists around the city, rent out spots we can gather, and encourages each artist she invites to bring one friend, preferably another artist.
At the first event, there were about twenty people. A visual artist was off to the side painting images, a DJ spun music on low in the background and a couple of musicians randomly hopped on the mic and serenaded the room. The second event had double the amount of artists. The performances were organized and timed, there were bartenders who served alcohol and a table for the weed smokers to roll their spliffs (they smoked outside). The music was a bit louder and people were dancing or mingling with familiar faces.
By the time we got to the third event, we greeted each other with smiles and hugs. I was asked to read excerpts from my novel and felt humbled by the response. As other artists performed throughout the night, we cheered each other on, followed each other on social, and committed to attending each other’s events. We were now a community.
Many artists from this community have bought my novel. I’ve attended their shows separate from the Liveations event and supported their work. We know each other’s names. We are a community.
Writers forming community
I just read about a private writing group called 2K22. They’re a group of 22 debut authors who operate over Slack. Essentially, these authors act as support systems for each other. This group “exchanges ideas” and shares ways to better reach booksellers. They’re even pooling their resources so each author has a chance to afford ads that wouldn’t be affordable on their own.
I’m part of another group I found on Medium called Writers and Editors of Color (WEOC). They have their own website now and we congregate more on Twitter, but this group is filled with some of the most passionate, talented writers I’ve met. They have a mission and they are unapologetic about the pursuit of that mission.
This group is also extremely supportive. They read my blog, comment on my articles, like and retweet my posts; we’ve seen each other’s faces over video chats. They know my name. We are a community.
Then there’s CRY
Seriously, where would I be without my CRY community? I get emotional thinking of what this space means; what each of you mean. We’ve come together around our personal vulnerabilities and shared stories of joy and pain.
Even though I’ve created this community, it’s all of you who make it special. There is no community without the people and the group of writers for CRY is beyond anything I could’ve imagined. To say you’re supportive wouldn’t do justice. I message many of you. We send each other emails. We know each other’s names. We are a community.
This is how we need to exist. Being a writer shouldn’t be a lonely endeavour. There are too many of us living similar experiences for any of us to ever feel alone. Being part of these communities has all happened organically. I was invited and do my part to engage and add value. I’m always conscious of how much I take and so I give as much as I can and find balance in my expectations.
Have these communities helped my career? Yes. Have they enriched my life beyond my writing? A resounding yes! These are real people. We know each other’s names. This is the power of community.
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While you’re here, read my new novel, BOYS AND GIRLS SCREAMING.