Guest Blogger: Thinking about Writing Communities

March 10, 2010 | Written by admin

Often my writing receives attention because of
the writing communities in which I am involved. Because of my submissions, blog
posts, comments on writing networking sites, and the personal connections I
have established, my name is becoming known enough for editors to read my work
within the short story genre, whether or not they accept it.

I’ve read and
enjoyed your pieces in other journals so did give your story a quick read
anyway.

While the above mentioned story was not accepted, it was, at
least, considered.

My goal is to write or edit the best stories possible.
However, often there are discrepancies between what I think is “best” and what
others find appealing. Thankfully, I have found an amazing set of
friends/mentors who encourage me within my writing and editing process, even
the “not best” productions. I have made it a point to intentionally reach out
and be involved within each of these communities.

University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
I would be remiss not
to give a shout out to the best literary community in the world, but I am more
than slightly biased as this is the university from which I received not one,
but two, graduate degrees. I still keep in touch with several friends/writers
from UWM through facebook and email. While attending the university, I had the
privilege of reading and thinking about my colleague’s writing, and they
encouraged me in mine. If I start naming people, I am sure that I will forget
someone, but I do have to say that Liam Callanan (All Saints, The Cloud Atlas)
is a fantastic mentor and writer. If the opportunity affords, attending a
school with an MA, MFA, or PhD program is rewarding and benefits one’s literary
career. A scholastic literary community allows one to directly connect with
other writers; although, it is not the only way through which to grow in one’s
writing.

Emerging Writer’s
Network.
While at the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful literary folk.
Dan Wickett from Emerging Writer’s Network is one of those people. I have been
following his blog since 2008 with the hope that he would one day feature my
book. However, Dan also became useful when Notes
and Grace Notes
started marketing Allan’s book, The Butcher and the Breather. Dan allowed me to write a book review
and feature some of Allan’s writing on his website:
http://emergingwriters.typepad.com/emerging_writers_network/2009/12/holiday-shopping-guide-sarah-joy-freese.html. Online literary communities are (generally) free and require
a low amount of commitment. It may take a while to establish connections, but
it is worth the wait because once those friendships are made, amazing
opportunities are afforded. Still, face-to-face connections are often the most
memorable.

Writing
Conferences.
It has been said that the
Festival of Faith and Writing (FFW) is the best writing conference. But there
are several others and many more ways in which one can connect with other
writers/readers. This year, I am excited about attending both FFW and AWP—a writing
conference that will be held in Denver, Colorado. If you are a short story or
literary writer, this is the conference to be at! The featured writer is
Michael Chabon, so even if you aren’t a short story or literary writer, this is
still a conference you need to attend. The journal with which I am currently an
associate editor has been established across state lines; I have never met the
other editors face-to-face. At AWP, however, I am excited to meet both Harmoni
and Allan, editors of Notes and Grace
Notes
.

Notes and Grace
Notes.
Harmoni and Allan are the best team
for which one could wish. Both inspire me to discover amazing writing and think
not just about what Notes and Grace Notes
is as a current literary entity, but what it can become. And thanks to
them, it is becoming! Because of my experience editing and reading through Notes and Grace Notes, I am growing in
my ideas as a writer and a lover of words. I am also able to meet and encourage
up and coming writers. Did I mention that Harmoni and Allan are awesome? Still,
there are several other literary journals through which one can become
involved.

Literary Journals.
Again, there are too many to name! Because
of the relationships that I have established with writers and editors, mostly
through the submission of my own work or reading the work of other writers
within the journals to which I submit, I have grown as a writer and a person. Pick
a few literary journals to which your writing really connects. If you have any
aspirations to be a short story writer, get to know the writers who are
published within them. Email the editors and ask for copies of past journals
(sometimes you can receive these for free!). Remember that establishing
connections takes effort on your part, something that I have consciously
determined to do with all of my literary connections, which brings me to my
final point.

Email. C.S. Lewis responded to every single letter that he
received. While, I am not much of a letter writer, I do believe in the
importance of a thank you. Every time I read a book or a short story, if the
author is still alive, I write them a thank you email explaining why I liked
their book, my favorite character(s), and what their book meant to me at that
point in my life. This has allowed me to establish several literary connections
throughout the years. It is important to let writers know that you care about
their work.

Establishing literary connections has been a fun part of my
growth as a writer and an editor, but it’s been a process. I am excited to see
where the journey continues to take me, and I am even more excited about
establishing new relationships as I continue to learn and develop. Maybe, I can
even meet some of you along the way!  

Our guest blogger today is Sarah Freese, a young writer and editor who I thought had something interesting to say. Sarah, like me, is a short story lover and an editor. She is going to do a short series of blogs, touching on some topics I think will be of interest.

Posted in Career, Conferences, Questions from Beginners, Resources for Writing

  • http://sharonalavy.blogspot.com/ Sharon A Lavy

    Welcome Sara. It would be nice to have your picture posted with your guest posts, especially if you are going to be writing more of them on this blog.

  • http://tinaannforkner.wordpress.com/blog/ Tina

    Hi Sarah. This is great. Thanks for the suggestions. It’s nice to be reminded there are other literary options out there we might be missing. I’ve always wanted to attend the Festival of Faith & Writing. Maybe someday we will meet there. :-)

  • http://iheartya.wordpress.com Sarah Joy

    Sharon, I am part of a witness protection program. No, kidding. Umm, you’ll have to ask Chip about that.
    Tina, thanks! And, honestly, I haven’t even listed all of them. Just the ones that really mean the most to me.

  • http://www.chipmacgregor.com chip responds

    Hey, I’ll be at the Calvin Festival next month. Stop by and say hello!
    -Chip

  • Sally Jo Freese

    I am proud to say that not only was I aware of your great writing in the mid to late 80′s, I critiqued some of your earliest pieces. The “Refrigerator” posted your pieces daily. You were never rejected by this publisher!

  • http://iheartya.wordpress.com Sarah Joy

    Aww… thanks Mom ;)