Beyond everything, if I were to use one word to explain why I write and how I best operate in life, it is this word – connection (hopefully followed shortly after with ‘love’, but you have to connect with someone, or at least connect your brain and recognition to their humanity before you can begin acting in loving ways (anyway, I’m off on a tangent and it’s only the first paragraph, so good luck! (kidding; you won’t need it, this is going to be lovely))) – and indeed, it’s one which has been used at/near/around me by many people, because of my determination to build community wherever I possibly can.
I love that, and if there was a niche for ‘connection’, I would GLADLY own it (for those who don’t know, I pride myself on being one of the bloggers nobody can put in a niche (except the other day I realised that perhaps my niche is egocentrism (but here I go, rambling again!)). Back to connection.
There is a long tradition of dwelling-places having somewhere for the dwellers to connect, be it a village hall, a longhouse, a kitchen, campfire or community centre – wherever we settle, we recognise with a designated area the need we have for each other, and a neutral space in which to interact. Where communities are most vibrant and full of life, there is a connection or purpose, which transcends the daily lives of the individuals (at least in the first instance) and generates a place for them all to go and operate as a collective.
The gorgeous thing about writing is that it instantly connects writer and reader, but it connects OVER something (whatever concept or happenstance is being written about), and that’s one reason that bloggers find niches so important – it gives them a ready-made set of people for whom there are specific expectations and a demographic they anticipate will be most receptive to what they’re putting out there (except Jamberry nail groups on Facebook; I’ve not met a single person who’s receptive to being added to those sans permission) – It gives them an abstract arena in which to operate as a collective. It gives them a HUB.
From very early on in my blogging life, I realised that there was no niche which would fit me because my writing was too eclectic to survive the narrow expectations of any one. For the poets, there would be too much prose; for the thinkers, too much fiction; for the storytellers, too much introspection and observation of daily life; for the daily-life set, too many book reviews – there was no one place I belonged, and yet that gave me the freedom to dip in and out of all of them, and the boost to start generating my own communities.
It was hard work, but GOOD work, and work I loved to do. Using my blog as the hub, I responded to comments, visited other people, found ways to connect, focusing on the ways in which we were alike, rather than the (fewer) ways we were different. I encouraged conversation, rather than a simple ‘post >> comment >> response’ set-up. I enjoyed it when people talked to one another in my comment box, and often joined in. I sewed tiny bond-seedlings and nurtured them until they were strong enough to bear their own weight, their roots having been firmly established in the souls of the people on the other side of the screens.
But still there was an element of disconnectedness; of disapparateness, and what I realised we needed was a hub – a focal point around which they could all begin building their own bonds with one another as well as with me.- and they flocked as I worked, generating a blog hop celebrating the good in people’s lives through a weekly challenge to find and share Ten Things of Thankful. I wasn’t sure it would work at first, but I was encouraged to give it a go, and we just celebrated our ONE HUNDREDTH week of running…and time and time again, the thing which participants said they loved most about the hop (after the chance to be thankful out loud, and the goodness it did their soul to focus on finding those Ten) was the ‘TToT gang’ – the core of people who join up and welcome new people, encourage one another through the week as well as just the weekend, and exhibit every sign that these friendships, in spite of their hardwired status, are The Real Deal.
I became a founder member of The Sisterwives, where our motto is that ‘Alone we are enough but together we’re stronger’, and we support people in writing free, unburdening the thoughts which are gnawing at their souls, and give them a safe space to share these thoughts in a manner which will inspire empathetic feedback and genuine care. WHICH THEY GET. Consistently. Beautifully. From another set of people who believe in what we stand for, and are determined to support it and engage with it.
Then there’s 1000Speak, which (I assume, if you’re reading this) is where a new community is burgeoning with people who are committed to embettering the world one blog-post and one compassionate act at a time. And that is WONDERFUL, and it’s already making a tangible difference in the world – these posts are not just WORDS – they provide inspiration which is being taken and ACTED upon. And look at YOU, here, engaging now…
THIS is the World Between the Wires, to which I hardwired my heart and in which I found My People. As I’ve caught up with technology, I’ve added layers of instant messaging, video chats, photographs, voice messages, glitterbomb letters and genuine phonecalls to the relationships, and those wires have mattered less and less; the Real People have shone through. Their hearts and souls and the way they sound; the ins and outs and nuances of their daily lives (rather than just the highlights in blog posts) were what delight me and encourage me to continue – these people are no longer faceless entities or writers I admired from a distance: they are real, breathing, complex, wonderful FRIENDS. At this point, many of those friendships have stood the test of years; there are some with whom I speak every. single. day. some I speak to on-and-off, yet we pick up as though time had never passed since we last spoke, and others without whom I would likely still not be around to tell you how vitally important they are to me. They are vitally important to me. All of them.
Yet there are those (who might even read this) who are stuck in that place of not-connection, and that lonely feeling of pouring their heart and soul into the pages, where it wavers before blind eyes, and is ignored (or minimally responded to, which is just as much of a gut-punch). There are those who haven’t found their niche (or found a way to own their non-niche) and who are drifting, lost in cyber-space, banging their heads against the screen and screaming in pixels to be heard; to be acknowledged; to be NOTICED.
Perhaps if you find them, suggest a hub around which they might gather themselves alongside like-minded people and begin to connect. That’s what hubs are for, and why they’re important, and how they turn hermits into Villagers. But that’s the very first step of connection, isn’t it – noticing; not that someone has done something, but that the something was done by a SOMEONE.
Remember that, as you traverse the Blogosphere – there are people out there.
This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a particular focus on Connection, as well as the broader topic of compassion.
Write a post relevant to this month’s focus – CONNECTION – and add it to the link-up right here by clicking the blue button below.
Here’s how to get involved:
Join 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion on Facebook
Visit the 1000Speak blog
Follow @1000Speak on Twitter
Use the #1000Speak hashtag across social media.