Monday, September 9, 2013

A few things I've learned from community...

I remember the first post I wrote for this blog. I was nervous (I think it may have been the first blog post I'd ever written) but I was also excited. This was something new on the Australian writing scene - a group of writers with a common goal and shared faith, writing together, striving together to build community. Until this blog (and it's accompanying Facebook group) appeared on the scene, writing faith inspired work felt incredibly lonely in Australia. There were writers, we knew each other existed somewhere, but struggling through the shelves of bookstores it was hard to locate books by artists from this side of the globe.

But once the online writing community started, it began to blossom. The situation for emerging and established faith writers is quite different now to what it was. Distance and isolation (be it due to location or situation) have been reduced and connections have been made possible. There are numerous online writers groups for people writing faith inspired work, each with it's unique angle and purpose, but all designed to support and encourage one another. There are also Yahoo groups, discussion groups and local voices growing in the blog-isphere.
The CALEB Conference emerged out of the Word Writers Fair - an event I've been privileged to attend twice, and will be attending again in the future. Online relationships were strengthened with discussions and workshops, and I believe the Australian faith inspired writing community is stronger now than it ever has been. The evidence is on in the book shelves of the Christian bookstores: Aussie books easier to find, more little Aussie symbols next to familiar books in catalogues, and authors standing by and supporting each other using the most powerful marketing strategy ever - WORD OF MOUTH.

For me, watching this growth of relationships and networking, both connected with this blog and the many, many sprawls beyond, it has been exceptionally encouraging. I feel less like a lonely little writer pushing against a tide of anonymity, more a part of a wider family. So as I write this post, the last CWD post from me for the time being, I want to say Thank You to the writers I've been privileged to meet and write with in this context. Here's some of what I've learned from you:

* Never give up. Even when it feels terribly hard and painfully lonely, there are other writers feeling exactly the same and when we push through, and keep going, it's worth it in the end.

* Aussie writers write good fiction! (Yep, I'll admit it, even I was dubious! But there are some local wordsmiths out there brave enough to tackle faith related themes and they are worth the search.)

* Networking pays off. It pays off in sales, but even more importantly in sharpening skills, promoting excellence and producing a more polished product.

* Stay true to your first love. Anyone reading back over the blog posts here will notice a common theme: writers striving against the pull of the world to write for the original Creator. It's not easy, it challenges the very motivations behind why we write, but many, many CWD posts echo the blessing received in this obedience.

* Stay connected. Whether it's here, or on other writing blogs, online groups, at writing conferences and get-togethers. It's fellowship; important, valuable and rich.

Penny Reeve is the author of more than 15 children's books including the 2013 CALEB Award Children's Category finalists More Than A Mouse and Wonderfully Madison. She recently returned from a two week trip to India with Stop the Traffik and is hoping to seek publication for her YA novel on the subject next year. For more information about Penny, or her books, visit  www.pennyreeve.com 

18 comments:

  1. Thanks the the encouragement and for reminding us how far we have come, Penny. It all started with Lee and her vision for this community... thank you so much, Lee! And a big thank you to each and every one of you bloggers for the hints, suggestions, stimulation and encouragement you have shared with us all.
    As for you, Penny, I wish you every success and many blessings, for your children's books are marvellous. I feel privileged to have met you personally (at Rita's).

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    1. Yes, that was a lovely get-together, wasn't it? Thanks Rita for hosting!
      I think there is something immediately wonderful about meeting a fellow writer - its like suddenly the door it opened and a whole chunk of your heart is 'discussable' whereas normally it sits in the background and waits.

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  2. Cheers from the top side...(USA) I too am finding more encouragement for Christian children's writers through contacts made through social networking. It has been a long lonely struggle for me as I have found so few with similar interests who live close to me, but through social networking online and at conferences I am finally finding resources and critique partners that work for me.

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    1. Lovely to have you drop by Janice!
      I've found, being a stay at home mum, that I am often unable to meet formally with local face to face writers groups. So the online encouragement has been a real blessing.
      But I do still like to book in the occasional gathering, or conference!

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    1. Thanks Michelle. Yours was one of the blogs I was thinking of as I wrote this post. :)

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  4. Yes, well said, Penny. I absolutely agree. After self publishing 4 books I felt the writing/publishing world in Australia was a lonely place, and I've found the Christian writing community wonderfully supportive and encouraging. I'm sad this is your last post, but no doubt you'll continue to make a great contribution to the community.

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    1. Don't worry, you wont be getting rid of me! Just tightening my schedule to keep my priorities in tact. I have a few new and rather large projects I want to get stuck into soon - but I'll certainly still be around in other contexts. :)

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  5. Great post, Penny. I discovered this wonderful writing community at the end of last year after going to my first Word Writers Camp and then joining Christian Writers Downunder FB page. It has been such a wonderful and encouraging discovery.

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    1. Hi Jenny! Thanks for your comment - are you attending the CALEB conference this year? I can't make it this time, but will be trying for next year for sure! It's a great event. Encouraging. Inspiring and challenging too.

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    2. Hi Penny
      Yes, I am going this year. I'm sorry you can't make it this time round.
      Jenny

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    3. So glad you can make the conference, especially as I've just learnt there wont be a 2014 or 2015 event. Have a great time of networking and encouragement!

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  6. Well said Penny and all the best with your writing endeavours.

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    1. Thanks Ian.
      Will no doubt bump into you in other groups/contexts too!

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  7. More than 15 books? That's awesome Penny. Loved your post and it's great to be writing 'together' if you get my gist. I was so encouraged that very early on in my professional writing journey I stumbled onto CWD and met so many great, talented writers. Thank God we are in this journey together!

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    1. Yes, my book list has been growing lately and certainly keeping me busy!
      I think one of the best things about writing groups (be they on line or otherwise) is the way they take some of the isolation out of being a writer. On the other hand they can be a weakness - if we spend more time grouping than actually writing! Probably part of why I'm pulling back on blogging commitments. :)

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  8. I'm going to miss reading your posts here, Penny. Keep up the great work you've been doing :) I look forward to keeping on recommending your work to families of young ones and homeschoolers I know.

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    1. Thanks Paula! You are a great one for the good old fashioned (and most effective) word of mouth strategy. Glad you've found my books helpful.

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