So many of us crawled onto our couches or into our beds last night and watched The Tony’s. Well, okay, we watched Hamilton win basically everything it was nominated for. But no matter who the winner was, or what the award was, the message that came across something that’s been missing from the writing community these days.
When I first starting roaming around the writing community on Twitter, everyone was very welcoming. Enthusiastic. Encouraging. It was an inclusive group that, while some of us were farther along in the publishing journey than others, we were all on the same path. It was like an exclusive club, a secret society, a sorority, that I felt so happy to be part of.
Maybe that was part of being a new writer. Maybe it was naivety.
But I don’t think it was.
During the Tony’s last night we heard words of encouragement, of not giving up, of love, and of dreaming. We heard winners talking about what a great family the theater community is. How close everyone is. How encouraging everyone is.
We used to be like that, you guys. Before contests took over, before we focused more on what divides us than what brings us together. And no, I’m not saying celebrating our differences is a bad thing. Diversity, inclusion–these are good things. But we’re so quick to turn on each other and I don’t understand why. So many beautiful, brilliant, and deserving voices are being shouted down. Are too afraid to come forward and share their thoughts, their fears, their ideas. Are too afraid to reach out and make new friends or find critique partners because what if they say or do the wrong thing?
Being a writer is full of rejection. Handling it is difficult without the support of our fellow writers. And after what happened in Orlando, how deeply it affected all of us, we need to stand together now, more than ever. Let’s get back to the way things used to be. Let’s learn how to love and support each other again. Let’s be each other’s cheerleaders even when our friends move further along in the publishing journey than we are. Let’s not be scared to speak our minds or ask questions when we don’t understand something.
I’m not looking to carve out a space for myself in safe spaces I don’t belong to. I know many others like me aren’t either. But the writing community on Twitter was my safe space–just like it was a safe space to so many others. It was a place we could talk where we felt understood, where we felt like we were part of something bigger. Much like the theater, our writing friends on Twitter were our family. Now we have distance. So many of us are on the outside, looking in through windows because there’s too much shouting, too much anger and hatred and jealousy. There’s encouragement that’s generic and as cold as a greeting card.
I love you, writing community. I love being a part of you. But it’s so hard to be active. It’s so hard to share my fears, my anxieties, or even my achievements because the undercurrent of compassion and encouragement is gone.
And, in light of everything, of Orlando, I’m desperate to get it back.