Today’s Wicked Wednesday post is a little late, but it was one of those days where everything else seemed to take precedence to blogging. But according to my clock, it is still Wednesday, so here we are. Today, I’m thinking about the magical, wonderful online community of writers, and passing out shiny new blog awards!
Finding my way to the online writing community is probably one of the best things to happen to me. Not better than, say, finishing college or getting into graduate school, but pretty darn close.
See, I’ve always been something of a loner. It wasn’t necessarily by choice; I was labeled the Smart Kid in elementary school, and never really grew out of it. As many of you might know, becoming the Smart Kid is akin to social suicide: the cool kids think you’re lame, no one wants to hang out with you, and everyone assumes that you’re nothing more than, y’know, a pulsating brain in a chair — no personality, no wants or needs, just a vat of intelligence that’s there to dispense information.
“Lena, what’s the answer to number 3? Lena, will you do my homework for me? No? But you understand this book so much better than I do, and…”
No, I’m not bitter. Seriously, guys, I swear.
Anyway, as a result, I didn’t get much more social than hanging out with my tiny cadre of fellow outcasts during lunch breaks. I spent most of my time alone, immersing myself in make-believe worlds of books, poetry, and creative writing. That solitude became my refuge, and after a few brushes with clingy, toxic friendships in high school and college, being alone seemed far preferable than anything else.
But humans are social creatures, and we crave connection and intimacy with others. I tried to go it alone after my writing partner and I “broke up” after 5 years of working together (the relationship rather imploded in the messiest and most painful of ways). After close to to years of writer’s block, though, it became really clear to me that the Silent-Loner-Writer thing just wasn’t going to work. I didn’t want to collaborate again, but I needed people. I needed feedback. Better yet, I needed non-grad students who I could talk to about writing and books, about things that weren’t anchored in the dysfunctional dynamics of academia, or my thesis topic, or the other old conversations that make grad student gatherings feel so suffocating.
I started this quest for community just over 1 year ago, when I signed up for a Livejournal account and started poking at the world of fan fiction again. A month or so later, I broke up with my boyfriend of almost 2 years, and the imperative to write and connect became even stronger. I latched onto writing communities on LJ, and while that helped a bit, there were only a handful of people who were involved and committed.
Fast-forward a bit, to May 2011, when I accidentally stumbled upon A Round of Words in 80 Days. When I say “stumbled,” I do mean it. One of my LJ friends linked to the Plot Whisperer, and I went peeking at her site. I started poking at her blogroll, and eventually I found one that was talking about some ‘ROW80 check-in.’ I followed that link, and lo! History was made.
ROW80 led me to an amazing network of supportive, engaging, creative, and wonderful people. It also pushed me to dust off my long-defunct Twitter account so I could hang out over at the #ROW80 hashtag. In turn, Twitter opened the doors to the #myWANA crowd, and to an unbelievable treasure trove of blogfests, writing challenges, writing blogs, fun communities… Really, I could go on and on.
If someone had told me last November that, in a year, I’d be furiously writing my way towards winning NaNoWriMo, I would have laughed in their faces. If that same person had added that I’d have over a dozen flash fiction pieces and three novels in-progress to my credit, I would have laughed even harder. And if that strange, bizarre, crazy person also said that I’d have over 600 followers on Twitter and a Google Reader bursting at the seams with amazing blogs written by people I would call friends, I would’ve checked them for mental problems.
But it happened, improbably enough, and as we speed ever closer to Thanksgiving, I find myself more grateful for this community than ever. My mother, who knows me better than anyone, told me recently that this is the happiest I’ve been in ages. I know it’s due in large part to the enthusiasm, support, and genuine caring that I’ve found from all of you. So consider this blog post a sort of love letter to all of you, dear friends and readers.
As part of this mutual lovefest, I am passing out blog awards! It seems as though I’ve been accumulating them over the past few weeks, hoarding them up because I haven’t had the chance to pass them along, but I am sending them along at last. 🙂
Versatile Blogger Award, from Diana Murdock
One of the rules of the Versatile Blogger award is to share 7 random facts. My random facts can be found here (one of these days I’ll get around to writing up another list). The second rule is to choose 15 bloggers to pass the award to; I’ve got far less than 15, but these 4 are definitely worth visiting:
- Jenny Hansen: Over at More Cowbell, Jenny gives us tips on technology, writing, and love, as well as some laugh-out-loud posts. Seriously, have you seen the Undie Chronicles? Better yet, have you seen the “Mundies” (that’s “man undies”) edition? If the answer is no, you should go and read them… and if the answer is yes, you should reread them. :p
- Elizabeth Mitchell: Elizabeth is my awesome ROWsista, as well as a fellow academic. She’s been blogging about everything from the closing of Ellis Island to the history of profanity, along with some great posts about her dissertation on Renaissance author Christine de Pizan.
- August McLaughlin: August gives us posts that range from baking and food to writing and deeper reflections about identity and self. Her recent post, “Sweet Solitude: Creating Intimacy with Writing and Ourselves,” is one of my favorites.
- Natalie Harford: Natalie is another blogger who never fails to crack me up. Whether she’s sharing her latest contributions to the Urban Dictionary, recent redneck discoveries, or getting personal and talking about her quest for the perfect pair of jeans, her blog is always a delight to visit.
I Love Blogging Award, from Angela Orlowski-Peart
The I Love Blogging award goes to 5 newfound blogging buddies, and also requires a list of 7 random things (see above).
I’ve had the fortune to meet quite a few new folks over the past few weeks through the Warm Fuzzies blogfest and Kristen Lamb’s Blogging to Build Your Brand course. Here are a few people that you should all check out:
- Kristy K. James: Kristy writes about love and romance, and almost always includes an awesome youtube clip or two in her posts.
- Ginger Calem: Ginger writes “humorous mystery and YA with a kiss of the paranormal.” She’s also got a great sense of humor, and recently celebrated reaching 300 followers on Twitter. Congrats, Ginger!
- Karen McFarland: Karen is a newcomer to the blogging world, but she’s already written some fantastic posts, including a look at cutie Jon Bon Jovi’s philanthropic endeavors.
- Emma Callin: I recently met Emma through the Warm Fuzzies blogfest, and she is a wonderful person to connect with. She writes romance novels and poetry, and currently lives in the French countryside (Emma, I am pea-green with envy about this :p).
- Alana Saltz: Alana is a memoir writer, and is also a fellow WriMo, grad student, and WANA1011’er. I’ve been enjoying getting to know her via Twitter and her blog.
Stylish Blogger Award, from Debra Kristi
Finally, I received the Stylish Blogger award, which also requires a list of seven random things. I’m passing it forward to the following 5 bloggers:
- K.B. Owen: K.B.’s wood-panel header always makes me thing of a cozy library, and she’s also got the snazziest animated “featured posts” widget.
- Jillian Dodd: Both Jillian’s weekly MAN-day (featuring some of the most scrumdiddlyumptious guys ever) and her cute pink plaid-and-heart design are wonderful to look at. She also has “glitter” in her tagline, which makes the girly-girl in me squee like crazy.
- Annalise Green: Two words: polka-dots. Actually, make that three words: colorful polka-dots. Annalise blogs about writing and always has the best links to share during her weekly mash-ups.
- Juliana L. Brandt: Another great gal with a wonderful blog design (mountains and castles and birds!). Juliana recently relaunched her author site, and is the brainchild behind the Warm Fuzzies blogfest that I’ve been writing about each Friday.
- Coleen Patrick: Coleen’s blog always makes me feel really warm and peaceful. There’s something about the warm green foliage, sunshine, and the cute ladybug on her header that evokes relaxing summer days.