Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | May 16, 2018

Reflections on Seven Years of The Author Chronicles, Social Media, and the Writing Community

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, dawn, spring, pink dogwood

Each time it’s my turn to write the weekly blog post, I sit at the computer with a particular topic in mind. Half the time, I end up writing something far different from what I had planned. This is one of those times.

I had planned to write about how much technology has changed things for writers in the last fifty years, but my mind wandered to the significant changes that have affected me personally in the last fifteen years and how different my writing journey has been from the journeys of those who began their careers in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, and even the ’90s.

I’ve had the advantage of writing with a word processing program that makes rewriting and editing so much faster and easier. We writers still agonize about revision and editing, but I shudder to think of the time before personal computers, when writers had to retype pages and whole chapters over and over to make minor corrections or revisions because using too much white correction fluid was a no-no. Technology has not only assisted with the writing but with the researching as well.

Although writing is a solitary occupation, writers have long sought the company of other writers. We need the support and stimulation of getting out, meeting, and talking to other writers. The writing community is nothing new, but in the last fifteen years, the rise of social media has provided the opportunity to broaden our writing communities to include writers from all over the world, people who we may never meet in person. (Social media also provides an unparalleled chance to connect with readers, of course, but that’s a topic for another time.)

I first connected with other writers by taking a community college course. Next, I joined one of the many local writers groups that meet at libraries or bookstores. What a wonderful experience! However, since I write novels, I realized after a while that a group that looked at one page of my novel every few months no longer met my needs. So, I approached two others from that group who were writing longer works, and we formed our own critique group (which, though the members have changed over the years, still is going strong). I also began attending workshops and writers conferences to help me hone my craft.

I learned a lot, but I knew I needed more. That’s when I found Jonathan Maberry’s Writers Coffeehouse, a small group of writers that met once a month in a tiny building on a corner in Doylestown, PA. At the time, Jonathan had a successful career in non-fiction and had just published his first novel. While he knew the writing craft, he also talked about the writing business, something I knew nothing about. This was what I needed.

I signed up for Jonathan’s “Novel in Nine Months — Science Fiction” class, and when it ended, I signed up for another class. Then Jonathan asked me to join his Advanced Writing Workshop, an ongoing program that met monthly. In the Advanced Writing Workshop, Jonathan talked to each of us about our projects, about the craft, and about the business. He also emphasized that, in addition to knowing the craft and the business, a modern writer should be active on social media.

Most of us eventually gave in to the monthly prodding and joined Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Jonathan also said that blogging and author websites were vital for writers — even unpublished writers — and urged us to start blogs and author websites. Some of us tried blogging, but only Kerry Gans managed to blog on a regular basis for more than a few months. We brought our lack of success to Jonathan, who suggested a group blog, where we could take turns posting.

The idea for a group blog appealed to five of our number: Kerry Gans, Matt McGovern, Gwendolyn Huber, Nancy Keim Comley, and me. The five of us met separately from the Advanced Writing Workshop to decide on a name and format and what and when we would post. Kerry set up the blog for us, and The Author Chronicles inaugural post, “A Bit of Backstory,” written by Kerry, appeared on Sunday, May 29, 2011. Our first Top Picks Thursday post followed on June 2.

In 2012 we joyously celebrated our first year of blogging. We’d done it! We’d kept the blog going a whole year.

And now it’s 2018, and we’re coming to the end of our seventh year of blogging. We’ve had our ups and downs during those seven years. Our mentor, Jonathan, has moved to California, so the five of us no longer meet in person as a group. Social media, however, has enabled us to stay in touch, and some of us meet occasionally at coffeehouses or conferences. Life has kept us hopping, but when life has thrown curve balls at one of us, the others have stepped up to the plate, We have persevered, in both our blogging and our writing journeys.

If you’ve struggled with the starting and maintaining a blog, consider finding some like-minded writers and setting up a group blog. Finding the right partners might take time, but don’t give up.

The Author Chronicles wishes all writers a rewarding writing journey and hope you continue sharing this journey with us. Recognize that the journey will be a challenge, full of rewards and frustrations. Hang in there, and keep on writing!

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, sunset, spring

 


Responses

  1. Seven years! Gosh! I suppose my journey is also quite long by now. I definitely think of you guys as part of my blogging firmament. Here’s to many more years.

    Like

    • Thanks so much, Roz. Wishing you many more years as well!

      Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Categories

%d bloggers like this: