She had me at community. And those of you who know me know that’s what this blog, and every writing group (in real life and online), each string of emails between myself and another writer, every long writer lunch, phone call, or nod, hearkens back to. No one understand the writer community—especially of women (roll your eyes if you must, but it’s true)—like we do. No one understands until she’s in it. And then you wonder where these people, who understand and make you feel sane, have been all your life.
I feel so lucky to be part of a myriad of writer communities, and WFW is at the top. After all, I created this blog, this place, because I couldn’t find what I was looking for, the information and inspiration and authors, anywhere else.
Today, the lovely Laura Nicole Diamond joins us to share her own story of experiencing community in writing and publishing. Please welcome Laura to WFW, and add your thoughts in the comments!
The Beauty of Community
by Laura Nicole Diamond
A sense of community is one of the most beautiful gifts in life. As a child, community is built in – in my case, a sister to play with, loving parents, and grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins nearby. When I finished college and law school and my friends scattered to different zip codes, the connective tissue that proximity had always provided was stretched as wide as the country.
As an adult, a sense of community can be harder to find, and all the more crucial as we undertake more difficult challenges. One of the most important communities I’ve had was as a new mother, relying on other new moms to share their stories, to feel understood, to receive emotional support, advice – even the occasional babysitting. It’s not surprising that my first book was inspired by and dedicated to these women.
But I never expected to find such strong community in writing and publishing a novel. Like becoming a mother for the first time, writing a novel involves stepping into the unknown. Doing that in community can help you feel like you’re not crazy for even trying. It can provide you with feedback of what rings true, what moves the reader, and what needs work. I was lucky to find an intimate writing group when I began working on my novel, and in that safe place I wrote the first draft of Shelter Us, once a week for an hour over the course of sixteen months. That group of supportive listeners and writers demanded that I show up every week and create something authentic.
As I stepped from writing the novel to publishing it, I discovered that the community of writers – specifically, women writers – is generous, supportive, welcoming, and dynamic. In the course of publishing my novel, I have met women who do whatever they can to lift up other writers and to bring them into their circle.
Part of this experience of community may be attributable to the fact that I chose to publish with a small independent publisher, She Writes Press, which is mission driven to publish high quality writing by women. It should come as no surprise that She Writes Press authors would develop vibrant networking channels to help each other on their publishing journeys, since the imprint grew out of SheWrites.com, an online community of women writers 26,000 strong. Through social media, She Writes Press authors have celebrated each other’s awards, planned joint readings, reviewed each other’s books, and asked each other questions about best practices, among other things.
But even more striking has been the support of authors beyond that circle. When it was time for me to seek blurbs for Shelter Us, I contacted authors whose work I admired. Not everyone had time to read my book, but everyone was kind, supportive, and encouraging. Those who did write gracious blurbs for my book made me feel as though I had been accepted to a sisterhood of my dreams. One author said, “Let’s have coffee” and proceeded to spend an hour pouring over her contact lists for news, radio, magazines, and non-profit groups that might be receptive to my book. Others said they would “share” my book with their readers. There was no closing ranks, no protecting turf. There was generosity born of the confidence that there are enough readers to go around, the belief that we are all in this together, and the knowledge that life is all the more beautiful when lived in community.
This sense of community and support is one of the loveliest unexpected gifts I have ever received, and I am honored to join the ranks of those responsible for sustaining it.
Laura Nicole Diamond is the author of the novel Shelter Us (June 2015 She Writes Press) and Editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood (2007). She is a civil rights lawyer, and writes about family, parenting, and social justice on her blog, http://www.ConfessionsofMotherhood.com. She and her family live in Los Angeles. Visit her at www.LauraNicoleDiamond.com.