Communities by Diane PerkinsAt the Romance Writers of America National Conference this past July, I was invited to participate in a Harlequin focus group. These are small groups Harlequin holds at the conference each year to pick the brains of their authors about the future direction of Harlequin. The discussion of the focus groups is confidential, but the idea of impromptu communities came up and it got me thinking.
I’m conceptualizing impromptu communities as ccommunities that are established for one purpose and over time become something more.
The Wet Noodle Posse is a great example. Back in 2003 when the Golden Heart finalists were announced and Jill Floyd organized a loop for us, the main purpose was to communicate about the experience. Important stuff, like what photo of ourselves to use, what we should wear to the ceremony. And other stuff like who sold, who had requests, who was interviewing with whom at the conference. Other topics crept in, though, more personal stuff about writing and then about life. Soon the loop was being used for emotional support through the confusing labyrinth of the writing world and other life crises, too. Somewhere along the line we named ourselves The Wet Noodle Posse, because several of us needed lashing with wet noodles for getting discouraged or wanting to give up.
I wasn’t an active member of the “community” at the beginning. In fact, I didn’t participate much until after the 2004 conference, but now I couldn't feel closer to these ladies. Every day I'm eager to hear from them.
As unique as the Wet Noodle Posse is, this phenomenon of impromptu communities isn’t. In fact, my first email group "All of Us" started ten years ago as a romance writing group. We didn’t even know about Yahoo back then. We’ve since professionally branched out into poetry, screenwriting, Reiki, soap-making, jewelry merchandizing, psychology, etc etc. Like the WNP we’ve experienced births and deaths, and our relationships now are personal ones. Friends.
I’ve also noticed the phenomenon on Michelle Buonfiglio’s Romance by the Blog. The comments on each blog show that these readers now “know” each other. They share life events. They support each other. They are a community.
But this is not something confined only to Romance writers or readers. I recently joined the MidAtlantic GB Tarts, the Gerard Butler fans of GB.net who are from the mid-Atlantic region. I knew of these ladies through my friend Patty and met some of them when we gathered for Gerry’s Beowulf & Grendel movie in New York, but now that I’m on the loop, I’ve seen the phenomenon here, too. The Tarts gather together for fun weekends. They hold fundraisers to raise money for charity. They talk--incessantly about Gerry, but, hey, that’s why I love them!-- but also about everything - current events, life changes, sorrows and triumphs. They reach out to each other with concrete help. One member says she needs a job and another member says her firm is hiring, send the resume.
I’m amazed, so totally amazed.
Belonging to these groups, having these friends, heartens me, makes me happy, makes me feel hopeful about the future, no matter what happens to me. It just goes to show ya that caring has no bounds. It even flourishes in cyberspace.
Tell me about your “communities.” Do you have close cyber-friends, perhaps friends you’ve never met in person but with whom you feel close? Do you have an example of this phenomenon that is not associated with the internet? I’m so intrigued by this idea, I’d love to hear more!
(Sigh! I wanted to add pictures, but Blogger wouldn't let me!)