Why I Love #Amwriting

from the amwriting.org image archiveAt last year’s Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association conference, I was shocked to discover that the coordinators hadn’t opted for wifi during any of the workshops or presentations, or in the lounge off the exhibit floor. Maybe they thought it was a nuisance, that the collective clicking of keys would be too much of a distraction from say, Robert Dugoni talking about suspense. I don’t know, give Robert Dugoni some credit; he’s pretty entertaining. And there I was with my month-old iPad, so excited to twitter away a live feed. I was disappointed. This was one situation that made me question whether I should have forgone the 4G connectivity, but it was too late to question, now wasn’t it?

At the back of the large lecture, two women sat together, one of them online with her smartphone. I asked if she’d found wifi, and instead, she hooked me up through her phone. And a friendship was born, much to their credit, and not really to mine. Kerry Schafer had written a book about a wandering penguin that sounded delightful. Johanna Harness seemed to have taken the Harriet the Spy concept, put it in her own image, and made it work for the newest century. Harness then slipped me a tiny envelope containing even smaller slips of paper like those affirmation cards of the 1990s. There was one three-quarter inch button with a little bird on it, hand drawn with simple lines, and all of these things read, “#amwriting.”

I looked it up, and saw she’d started not just a hashtag on Twitter, but a Web site for writers at any stage to list their work and find each other. I was interested, but I was a little preoccupied with not wanting to trip over myself on my way to an agent pitch. Although, thinking about it now, what better way to introduce a memoir about being a klutz? Damn it, I should have done that on purpose.

Amwriting has gone through some shifts over the last year, including a layout change and a lot of behind-the-screen updates so authors can tweak their bios. Writers list their projects, genres, successes, and writing techniques. A stream of people of tweets with the hashtag rolls through in its own corner, and the throes of people using #amwriting totals well more than 20,000 now. On this, its second birthday, many of us have found agents, gotten book deals, formed critique groups, or learned about new projects, and for that I’m amazed. I get excited when my daily blog visits top 250. Johanna has built something of a benevolent empire, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

I’m happy to spread the word about the site; as I often say, writers need writers. Community reminds us that we all have our challenging moments, and that we’re in a long process akin to something like an overgrown taffy pulling machine. Finding people who can be our beta readers, and whom we can help support makes us better writers but also better people. One of my friends made an offhand comment the other day that John Grisham has given a lot of money to emerging writers over the years. He gets the idea. So should we all be as supportive of each other.

As this is part of a large blog party, let me link readers to the next blog on the celebration list, Carol Despeaux’s One Wild Word.

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9 Comments on “Why I Love #Amwriting”

  1. August 3, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    How evocative, Ev! I so wish we were heading to PNWA with you again this year. Or—at the very least—I hope they have wifi so I can follow your live tweeting.

    You are so right: writers do need writers. Thank you so much for always being there for me and for so many others. Our community is better with you in it.

    • evmaroon
      August 3, 2011 at 7:10 am #

      Well, I’m thrilled for your success! And yes, I hope I find some way to finagle a live tweeting arrangement…

  2. August 3, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    It’s so great to see how the folks who were in #amwriting when I finally found it got hooked. 🙂 This is such a great way to get to know you all better.

    • evmaroon
      August 3, 2011 at 11:15 am #

      Well, I’m glad to be part of such a welcoming group, Marian.

  3. August 3, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    That is a great #amwriting story, Ev! Having had the good fortune to get meet, share a cuppa, and a grin with Kerry & Johanna, as well as Kristina, Bill & Greg, it surprises me not a whit to find that others have those “and then I met these two writers” stories about them.

    And of course, for “younglings” to writing such as I, there is I doubt, any better community to “live” in than #amwriting. When Johanna says inclusive, well, she’s more than welcomed me with open arms, to a degree that still frankly befuddles me, & I suspect that’s just her normal operating mode.

    Have a blast please, at PNWA, I’ll be thinking of you as I shift into full green.

    • evmaroon
      August 3, 2011 at 11:16 am #

      You’ve met more of them than I have, John! One of these days I will sit down and meet Ms. Hilarious Kristina herself. But who are Bill and Greg?

  4. August 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Lol. You crack *me* up! Bill is Bill Cameron (@bcmystery) and Greg is Johanna’s husband who’s twitter handle escapes me but is based on his name.

    I sure love all the writers I know…god bless Johanna for building this community (of which I’ve not officially joined…hmm).

    • evmaroon
      August 4, 2011 at 6:46 am #

      What you say makes sense, so I approve. Meanwhile, go get yur bio up on the site!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. #Amwriting Birthday #Blogparty Wrap-Up | Johanna's big thoughts - August 5, 2011

    […] Everett Maroon’s Trans/Plant/Portation: Ev describes meeting me and @KerrySchafer at the PNWA conference last year.  He says I’ve “built something of a benevolent empire,” and that really makes me smile. […]

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