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Welcome to the Cafe!

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Welcome to the Cafe!

Post by Cordelia on Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:42 pm

Congrats on finding your way here!  Whether it was through random chance, or networking through friends, I, for one, am happy you joined us.

I'm Cordelia, and the Café has been a vision of mine for more years than I have ever bothered counting.  I'm not even a hundred percent sure what originally inspired me other than the concepts of helping others, and being inspired.

I have heard it said throughout my life that I'm very good at teaching -- breaking down concepts people have struggled to master for years, and reassembling them in a way that makes sudden sense, and always finding a way to reach someone with the desire to learn.  People also frequently guess "teacher" when trying to figure out my career; I guess I just have one of those "teacher" faces. Razz

When I met other writers who are having difficulty and seeking help, I always offered my services.  Whether that was teaching tools, or correcting word choice, as long as the writer had the stomach to handle constructive criticism, I did what I could.  I still do.

And every time I help someone, I end up inspired as a result.  Every time I discuss writing tools and techniques, as well as creative processes, and story ideas, it feeds the passion inside me to keep creating, myself.

I remember I was a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Chronicles (and I still am) when I first really started thinking about making my own forum -- in fact, a lot of my ideas regarding section layouts and functions come directly from their layout.  I wasn't really trying to improve on their design, so much as add a different facet to it.

The Aspiring Writers forum is buried in a giant literary forum under the Chronicles name.  For the life of me, I never ventured beyond the writers section.  You could spend your whole life there, and never want for another thing to do.

Almost.

Because many social aspects of the community were spread far outside the writers section, there was something of a disconnect.  You could PM people, certainly, and build friendships with other members, but it still felt like that official place you go when you're looking for a specific type of answer.  To that end, I still recommend writers go to them, because their community of scientists, and people with the answers to complex questions regarding inter-planetary physics, and earthly physics, and any number of other gritty subjects is absolutely unparalleled.  But if what you needed to stay grounded in the community was the social aspect, it felt emptier.

So, eventually I drifted.  I learned a lot there through participation -- the more time you spend explaining a technique to others, the deeper you embed the concept within yourself.  So, even if you haven't quite perfected a thing, when you share that view and experience with someone else, you deepen your understanding of it.  Helping others helps you.  And, when I had helped enough to want real practice, that's when the lack of convenient, cohesive community allowed me to drift out of their orbit.

I tried a couple other communities, especially those with chat room functions, but they felt more isolated and elitist.  Offering casual help and observation to some would result in their anger and harassment of me.  In one community, I felt chased out and unwelcome because of one single member's attitude toward me.

Don't get me wrong -- writing can be an intensely personal and private experience for everyone, but no one should lash out at another writer, even if the observation offered is inapplicable or way off base.  It's hard enough for us to find an actual community of people actively talking about and participating in our silent sport; we don't need to waste time defending our egos and hurting others for it.

So I guess that kind of fueled my desire to build a community of my own, where writers of every level could get involved in teaching and learning from each other, while building strong community ties and friendships to keep everyone coming back, even if there wasn't a question they needed answered in the moment.  A community with the desire to be supportive and encouraging, no matter what level another writer was at, and whether or not a critique or observation was applicable or relevant, because we're all on similar paths.  And we could all use the support.

Somewhere along the line, about the same time I was kicking around the idea of a forum, I decided I also wanted to develop my own publishing house to work in concert with the forum.  A publishing house with an imprint specifically for launching forum writers -- win one of the contests and have a publishing package as your prize!  Book design!  Your own editor!  Digital and physical publication and distribution!  Lessons on marketing yourself!  All included in the top prize package. -- so the forum would be more than just a gathering place for us.  So the forum could do some tangible good, and facilitate something that can be so damn difficult to achieve at the best of times.

This is still my goal.

Short term, I want to see the forum integrated with a blog/website format where writers and works can be prominently featured, as well as giving staff writers a place to post helpful articles for the community within, and the greater community at large.

Long term, I want to see that publishing house built from our beginnings here, and I want to see everyone with the desire build the stepping stones they need to achieve their literary goals, whatever they may be.

So, now you know a lot about me, my goals, and the forum.

Go forth and fill these walls with your mad scribblings; it's the only way this place could get better.

^__^
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Cordelia
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