Even when engaged in a solitary endeavor such as writing, community matters. Perhaps more so. How else can we truly connect except by helping one another, sharing stories, and rejoicing in each other’s success? It is far too easy to lose ourselves in the obsessive passions that drive us forward or to succumb to the demons and worries that threaten to hold us back. Whether we are consumed with career, school, exploration, creativity, or mastery, our lives are benefited by meaningful interaction with our tribe.
This month I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with my fellow horror writers at the first annual Stokercon2016 in Las Vegas. As you can see from the photo above with Cecile Grimm-Cabeen, Robert Payne Cabeen, Kate Jonez, and David Blake Lucarelli, we had a blast! But rather than extolling its specific virtues, I want to share some thoughts on how positive community gatherings (of any kind!) replenish the soul.
Getting treated to dinner by our fabulous agent, Cherry Weiner (top right)
with Brad C. Hodson, Tori Eldridge, Weston Ochse, and Yvonne Navarro
Community reminds us that we are not alone.
We know this intellectually but even if we work, study, or create in a group environment, we can still feel as though we’re wading through the trenches alone. When that happens, it’s hard not to feel isolated. When we hear someone else share a similar experience or we feel the empathy of someone who really understands what we’re going through, that isolation disappears. We feel supported. Our emotions feel validated. And our challenges seem surmountable, once again. We feel energized to get back to doing what we love.
Common goals and experiences foster empathy and support.
Not only can we gain wisdom and advice from those who have traveled our path before, but they prove to us that it can be done. Interacting with others who have not only been there and done that but are excited to do it again, reaffirms our quest.
Collective energy is invigorating.
Gather a group of enthusiastic people striving for a similar goal and watch the positive energy explode. This is synergy at its best. All we have to do is open ourselves to receiving and giving, and the flood of positivity will do the rest.
Helping others empowers us and pays our good fortune forward.
The best remedy for sadness, lethargy, or frustration is to help someone else out of theirs. Negative emotions feed on themselves and create a self-defeating and diminishing cycle. When we stop replaying our woes, in our thoughts or with our words, we make room for change. When we turn our attention to helping others, we naturally become more positive. Thus every thought and word we utter builds positive energy not only in the person we are helping but in us.
Helping others lifts us out of our undesirable state and get us back on track.
This is what I experienced at Stokercon2016 and at other writers conferences like ThrillerFest, Bouchercon, Heather Graham’s Writers for New Orleans, and Spellbinders. It’s what I’ve experienced at dozens of Ninja Festivals and seminars around the country. It’s what I experienced during my weekend listening to the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama with enlightenment seeking friends. And this is what I experience every month at my local meetings for The Writers Coffeehouse, the LA Chapter of Horror Writers Association, and those occasional lunches with writer friends.