I’m BIG on community. I love it. I love having people who know me, really know me, who like me for the crazy, lost, random, indecisive me that I am. I need encouragement, acceptance, love, freedom--and I need it from people who know me. M. Scott Peck once said, "There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community." If he was right, then community, literally, is a circle. In both definition and action.
I feel as if I have always been on the search for true community, even before I knew what it was I was looking for. I needed people who were the same yet different, who were bonded with me over something. I think that all of us, every single person, longs for some form of community. We search for it in clubs and friends, in jobs, in churches, in teams, on Facebook, in chat rooms. (I can continue but I wont. You get it.) There are some who find it in these places and some who don't. There are some, and I fall into this category, who have glimmers of it--but glimmers do not a whole picture make.
Eventually, after a couple long and trying years, I got tired of searching. When I did, something fantastic happened: I met Myra McEntire. We lived in the same city at the time and she came into my Borders. Through some random things, I started talking to her. I remember that I said to her, "I'm a writer. I just started working on a YA novel...I've been looking for people to connect with." She smiled, grabbed my arm and said something that I had no idea would impact my life as it has. Her words: "Are you on Twitter? Get on Twitter." I had Twitter but I didn't know what I had until she talked to me.
Apparently, there’s a world full of young adult authors and bloggers on twitter—and they will talk to you, answer questions, encourage, connect. What is the crazy world!???!? Now, it's August, my sixth month of YA life on Twitter, and I am blown away by it. Not Twitter itself but the people. Oh my gosh the people.
I have never seen a community like this. It is the most incredible group of people, people who genuinely care about each other, who pour out their lives, hearts, time, wisdom to help others learn and grow. I’m in it. I tell my best friend that it is my social life and, in a way, it is. I have developed relationships with amazing people who have changed me with their words, their laughter, their encouragement—and I haven’t even met most of them. I'm not sure what it is exactly that makes this community so incredible. Maybe it simply that you share something you are passionate about. Passion is easy to bond over. And when that passion is writing, or reading, that bond is remarkable.
The YA community is the most amazing thing I’ve ever been part of. I know that I have an immense purpose for being part of it (stumbling into it, really!) And my biggest advice to anyone pursing anything in writing (especially in the YA world) is to get on Twitter and connect. It sounds weird--and I get that--but I also know that I've had amazing coffees, dinners, cupcakes, conversations, encouragement and all-around support with amazing people, who are the authors and bloggers and readers on Twitter.
I was trying to figure out what to call this post. Then I found the title quote by...ahem...Tupac (2pac or Tupac Shakur, if you prefer). Random but fitting. Why?
Because I AM a reflection of the community.
I would've never made it this far without every single person who has reached out to me. I hope that I reflect them well. I also hope that you feel the same. I hope that the YA community on Twitter is your social life, your family, your friends. And if so, reflect them well. If we do, the next generation of YA writers will have something to believe in and they will pass it on because community is a circle.