Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Wicked Wednesdays: The Importance of Community, And Blog Awards

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:

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.

50 Comments

  1. Oh, Lena!!! What a great post – I’m SO honored to get this award from you.

    While I’ll confess that it makes me sad that you’ve had so many lonely times, I’m delighted to hear how happy you are today. That’s your reward for “keeping on” and going after what you want — you more than deserve it, my friend! I have found so many blessings in the online writing community (and yes, you are one of them)!

    I’m delighted that NaNo is going well and that you are taking the WANA1011 class. You’ve given me some new names to explore here…I’m gonna have to do some reading in the days ahead.

    Thank you for sharing, and thanks for my gorgeous award. It’s on my to-do list to get an awards post going…I’m thinking next week around Thanksgiving is a perfect time for a gratitude post. 🙂
    Jenny Hansen recently posted..Hitting the Reset Button When Life Kicks Your Creative KeisterMy Profile

    • Squee, you are SO welcome! You certainly deserve it, my dear. Thank you so much for being such a great friend, and for being so supportive of me. You have enriched my blogging/writing life these past few months. 🙂

  2. This post made me tear up, just a little. Whilst there is a fairly large disparity in our ages, your feelings and experiences are so similar to my own, I felt like I could have written this. I’m so glad to have found you 🙂
    Sarah Pearson recently posted..Musical Stories 19: HorrorMy Profile

    • Oh, Sarah, now you’re going to make me cry! Thank you so much — you’ve been an amazing blogging and writing friend, and I feel so lucky to have you in my corner. (((hugs)))

  3. Well, what a truly open blog. In the end community needs honest communication and so I do thank you for putting it out there. I always say that my truest relationship is with my characters and I guess you feel this too. When you are writing that is where you are – in those relationships. Thank you so much for my award, it is a true honour. It’s lovely to know you are there.

    Emma x

    • I agree wholeheartedly, Emma — honesty and communication are so important for a community to thrive and for bonds to form. And you’re right — the relationships that I have with my characters are so intensely special to me. They become part of me in so many ways. It’s one of the joys of writing, I’d say. 🙂

  4. Awwww Lena!!! You’ve totally made my day – thank you so much for the FABULOUS award!! I feel sooo honored!
    Your post touched me deeply. Like Jenny, I’m sad that you’ve had so many lonely days but I am thrilled that you are feeling the happiest you’ve ever felt and are writing like crazy. It’s amazing how life can just swell up sometimes, eh!?
    I have to say that I share in your gratefulness for the community we’ve all created. I’ve been simply overwhelmed, often to tears, by the thoughtfulness, generosity, and giving spirit of the blogging community I’ve come to call friends and family. It’s simply blown my mind.
    The other night I was driving with hubby and I was telling him how people were promoting my most recent impaired driving post – talking about how important it was – tweeting it etc and I cried….I cried because within my own personal circle of friends and family NO ONE has supported my cause the way my blogging community has. You have all gathered behind me and made me feel like what I have to say and what I believe in matters to YOU as well and that’s something special. It’s a gift! And I know I feel as blessed as you….to have found such an ahhhmazing community!!! How did I ever manage before y’all?!??! 🙂
    Here’s to our continued friendship now and beyond…and to the million laughs and joys to celebrate together!
    HUGS!
    Natalie recently posted..Urban Word Wednesday: MasturcisingMy Profile

    • Natalie, you are just so awesome. It’s a little strange, because my “offline” friends don’t quite understand just how much this community means to me. They get a little weirded out about my blogging and tweeting (“wait… you talk to strangers on the internet?”), and so it’s difficult to convey the depth of emotion that I feel for y’all. Sometimes I think this would be an excellent sociological study — “The Creation and Development of Social Solidarity Among Online Communities” — because there are so many wonderful things that come out of our tribe. 🙂

  5. Thank you, Lena! Like Sarah, I teared up at your post, because, despite our age difference, you have described the loneliness of my educational experience so well. I feel much the way you do about finding the online writing community; I keep having these Sally Fields moments, unable to process that I have so many friends. A few weeks ago, my husband said the same thing to me that your mother said about you (and he’s known me about as long as your mother has known you); I know that I have come out of my protective armor lately. Finding this community has made me a very happy pulsating brain.

    You’re far ahead of me in getting out there with your writing, and building a brand (and an attractive website), but with you and the bloggers you have named in your Stylish Blogger award, I have lots of models to follow. 😉 I am going to run off to add all these bloggers to my Google Reader, and look forward to getting to know them.

    I will openly steal Jenny’s thought about doing a gratitude post for Thanksgiving; that was a brilliant thought, Jenny! I am very honored to have the award, and to stand in such distinguished company.

    Rock on ROWsis!
    Elizabeth Anne Mitchell recently posted..Ellis Island closes its doors, November 12, 1954My Profile

    • Haha, every time I tell my mom about an awesome online interaction I’ve had, she teases me with that Sally Field line without fail. It’s striking to me, how many of we writers share such similar backstories when it comes to loneliness and whatnot. Every so often I wonder what it might have been like to be popular, or at least more outgoing and social than I was… and I start to wonder if I would have developed the same imagination, the same desire to create. If popularity would have come at the price of my imagination, then there’s no way I’d want it.

      Thank you so much, ROWsis! I cherish our friendship. 🙂
      Lena Corazon recently posted..Fiction Fridays: Tapping Into Writerly Extrasensory PerceptionMy Profile

  6. Your post goes straight to the heart, Lena. The supportive, authentic connection of this blogging community is quite incredible and to hear you speak of the personal change it has brought to you makes it even more rewarding. I tend not to leave long comments … but I’m there reading, absorbing, and supporting. As Kristen Lamb tells us, we are not alone. Write on!

    • Patricia, thank you so much for reading and stopping by. I love interacting with everyone, and I think this community that Kristen has helped foster is so invaluable. It feels SO good to know that there are others around, and that I don’t have to go it alone anymore.

  7. Lena, I completely feel your pain, and kudos to you for taking a risk and being real and vulnerable. It helps more people than you may realize. Like you, I wish this online community had been accessible many years ago, but what a delight to appreciate and celebrate it now! Thanks so much for thinking of me; it’s the first time I’ve been referred to as “stylish” in any form! (where’s my tiara? *rummaging* I’ve got it somewhere…)

    Kathy

    • Kathy, dust off that tiara and wear it proudly! 🙂

      It means so much to me to know that my story is one that is shared by others. It’s so wonderful to “discover” you all!

  8. Girl, you should have gone to school with me! I was a smart kid in a class of smart kids! We would have welcomed you with open arms 🙂

    Even still, I was a loner too. I’m sure that’s just my nature. It never fails to surprise me how gracious and wonderful the blogging/writing community is, and how many amazing friends I’ve made.

    You have made some pretty incredible strides with writing and I’m honored to know you =D

    • Whaaa? Smart kid in a class of smart kids? Places like this exist?! 😛

      To be fair, I will say that the latter half of my high school experience was rather like that, once I got tracked into all of the honors and AP classes. There were still some obnoxious kids, but we were all ambitious and college-bound, and I had three or four friends who were all about books and nerdy things right alongside me.

      I’m so happy to know you as well, my dear!

  9. Love this post, Lena! And not because I’m mentioned…(THANK YOU for that. I’m so touched!) I suspect many will relate to your thoughts on perpetual loner-dom and the sense of community that can stem from blogging. This crazy perk took me by surprise, brightens my days and inspires me to work harder and keep growing.

    I see numerous blogs on your list I haven’t, but should, check out. Off to get started…;)
    August McLaughlin recently posted..Writing GrandadMy Profile

    • Whoo-hoo, you’re so welcome! And yes, please do check out the other blogs. There are so many wonderful, talented people who are apart of this community. 🙂

  10. Your school experience sounds an awful lot like mine. Especially the lunch thing. But as hard as it might have been while you were living through it, look at where you are today. You get to hang around with all of these cool writers. You’re well on your way to being that famous author…and where are the people that looked down their noses at you? Probably stuck in the suburbs and slaves to a time clock.

    Thanks for the blogging award. Lena. 🙂

    • Kristy, I definitely count myself lucky to be among so many wonderful people! And you’re quite welcome for the award — I’m so glad that we’re both taking the WANA class together. 🙂

  11. Beautiful post Lena. I can so relate. And I see some blogs I need to check out.

    Congrats on your awards! Well deserved my friend.
    Raelyn Barclay recently posted..Meet the Cards: The EmperorMy Profile

  12. What a beautiful testimony to blogging. I was nodding my head while reading because I too have been surprised at my attachment to the blogging/online community.

    Congrats on all the awards! 🙂
    Bridgette
    P.S. Found you through Natalie’s link.

    • Bridgette, thank you so much for swinging by. I’m so happy to hear that there are others who share my experience. We writers have something quite special here, and it’s so important to remember. 😀

  13. Thanks so much Lena! Honored you find my blog stylish. 🙂 Can’t wait to check out these other fabulous bloggers!

  14. Hi Lena,

    I am so proud to be your new blogging buddy! Thank you Lena for the award. I’m so new I didn’t even know it existed. lol But I feel really honored that you think of me in this way.

    Ever since we met six weeks ago in our new wana1011 class, which has been amazing by the way, you have gone out of your way to help others and made me feel welcome. I could tell imediately that you were super smart, that goes without saying, but your warmth, kindness and generosity spoke louder than your intellect.
    And that doesn’t always go hand in hand. Yet with you, it comes all wrapped up in a beautiful package.

    Because I am such a newbie, I may need a little tutoring on how this whole thing works. Hey, I just figured out how to post on facebook, so I hope you’ll cut me some slack. lol Beside the fact that in a matter of three weeks, I got a website hosted, put up a theme, gravitar, plugins, widgets, learned twitter and how to write a blog- my head is about to explode!

    And then their are my two current WIPs that have been screaming at me to come back, come back, you’re not finished with me yet!

    Well I can only hope that I can live up to this achievement. I know I have a long way to go, but I am so overwhelmed some days as to the genuine kindness that exists in this community. All because Kristen Lamb has attracted the most wonderful people.

    Thank you Lena!
    Karen McFarland recently posted..Gorillas In The MidstMy Profile

    • Karen, you have been so wonderfully supportive, and you’ve mastered the art of blogging in an incredible amount of time. I’d say that you’re a wonderful addition to this community.

      Let me know if you need help posting your award on your blog!

  15. Lena you are so sweet (and your post had me before I even saw my name mentioned!). I am so there with you on that whole I-can’t-believe-I-am-doing-this stuff. If someone had said to me last year, or even the beginning of this year that I would be blogging and posting on Twitter & FB I would’ve laughed too (and checked their meds ha ha). But what makes it so “easy” is finding writers/people like you who make me feel that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
    Thanks so much Lena!!!!
    Coleen Patrick recently posted..It was the Best of First LinesMy Profile

    • Coleen, I totally agree. I was terrified when I first launched my blog. I gave myself 1 month to try it out, and told myself that if I wasn’t getting anywhere, I’d ditch it and move on. But in that month, I met so many fantastic, wonderful people, and started forming unexpected friendships, that walking away was no longer an option. This is a good place to be, methinks. 🙂

  16. Fellow loner and outcast – but it seems that quite a few have gathered here to support you. I’ve read that writers are tortured souls – how else can we express our characters’ joys and pains if we haven’t lived it ourselves in some small way.
    Every hurt, every hard knock has a lesson. Keep writing!

    Lisa
    Lisa Hall-Wilson recently posted..Biking In PantiesMy Profile

    • Lisa, I totally agree. I see bits of myself and my experiences in my characters, and it makes them so much more complex and real. Thank you for stopping by and reading!

  17. Glad I am not the only one who has teared up when reading this! Such an honest and moving account, well done lovely girl.

    I am so glad I met you and that you have such drive you got Fun not Fear off the ground in amongst the millions of other things you do.

    Keep up the good work and I look forward to getting to know you even better 🙂
    Em recently posted..Wednesday 16th November ROW80 Check-inMy Profile

  18. You are so right about this online community, Lena. It’s an amazing thing to be part of. Thank you for the wonderful post and to all the blog award winners … huge congratulations!
    Sheila Seabrook recently posted..Location Location Location …My Profile

  19. Lena, this is such a touching post, and just so you know, we’re thankful we met you too!

    The writing community really is amazing and supportive. I count some of these folks as my best friends and most of them I have never even met in person!
    Julie Hedlund recently posted..The Artist’s Way: Week 1 Check-inMy Profile

    • Julie, you’re so wonderful. Thank you!

      One of the things that I’m hoping to do in the coming year is to meet some of my favorite bloggers in person. I’d love to have a WANA gathering one of these days!

  20. You have great reflections and have accomplished much. I lost track of you once you name changed but I’m glad to see how everything is looking up.
    totsymae1011 recently posted..Character Sketch No. 3: The Phone CallMy Profile

    • Totsy, so good to see you! I’ve been swamped and haven’t had the chance to make it through my Google Reader, but I’ll have to catch up with your blog. Thanks for swinging by!

  21. I’m with you! Twitter has been a revelation to me – such a great way to connect with supportive groups. Another super post from you Ms Corazon! Btw my daughter’s name is Cora – folk often ask me if it’s abbreviated from Corazon.

  22. Beautiful post, Lena. You could have written my life story until the last year. It’s so good to get to know you a little better. And I’m looking forward to following some new blogs – and further building my online community

    have a great day
    Louise Behiel recently posted..Baby It’s Cold OutsideMy Profile

    • Louise, thank you so much for stopping by and reading. It’s striking to me, how many of us were writing all alone. I’m so grateful for the internet, and for the work of people like Kristen Lamb, for giving us a way to come together.

  23. Lena, this is just great. Thanks for all the new bloggers and communities to check out. I love the WANA1011 group, of course. You’re right on there! (Love those peacocks, too. Gorgeous!)
    Diane Capri recently posted..“A Christmas Story”: Ralphie’s Perfect Gifting SecretMy Profile

  24. Lena, enjoy the blog award. You totally deserve it. I like visiting your blog and I read every post, even if I don’t always comment (heck, I even subscribed to your posts via email so I can have them delivered straight to my inbox!). You are a fabulous girl! Keep up great work.

  25. Lena, this is a beautiful post spoken straight from the heart. Thank you for sharing from yourself in such an open way.
    Debra Kristi recently posted..Immortal Monday ~ Seelie or Unseelie ღ Death-By-Sex FaeMy Profile

  26. Congrats on the fab awards! Your story is very touching. I’m so happy you’ve found a new family in the blogging world. There are some amazing folks out here and you’ve stumbled upon most of them! Great choices for the awards, too.

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