A few years ago, while organizing my computer desktop, I changed a folder name. I know, I know, riveting inciting action, right? But stick with me.

I changed the name of that folder from “PR”–forgive me, I’m a marketing professional–to “Writing in Community.” There was little in that folder at that point, but I was starting to get out there, as in sitting on a panel and doing a reading at a literary conference, and figured I should be organized about it. Out there meant knowing there is a public side to writing and publishing that this introvert would have to get used to.

That folder grew when a publishing opportunity turned into an editing opportunity, and I started working for a literary magazine–and working with dozens of writers, so far. For some, I interviewed them about their new books; for others, I served as book reviewer; and for still others, I helped hone essays that got their stories, you know, out there.

There are lots of platitudes like: the best gift to yourself is to give of yourself; there is no “us” without “u,” I don’t know. So, insert your favorite one here. We bloggers know that connection with community is everything; it just took me a while to think of the writing life–one that’s often depicted as solitary and broody–in just the same way.

And that “Writing in Community” folder keeps growing: writing groups and beta readers live in that folder, as do notes on classes, conferences, and group retreats (again, someday!)–a whole lot of writing “us.” Recently, I was asked if I wanted to serve on the planning committee for my favorite literary festival, and of course I said yes.

So, here’s where the magic happens, where our folders could hang out together. Even better, we could hang out together–do all the writerly stuff, like in actual person! It’s two days of readings, craft talks, and panel discussions. In other words: writerly nirvana!

Here’s the pitch: Are you–or do you know–a terrific writer, reader, teacher, lit community organizer, or publisher? Please help me spread this call for proposals for Lit Youngstown’s 5th Annual Fall Literary Festival, with the theme of “Our Shared Story,” to be held in Youngstown, Ohio, October 7 – 9, 2021. Simply share the link with your literary-type friends (on social media, over email, on your blog) anywhere in the vicinity of Youngstown–which is halfway between Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

One last thing: read carefully, my gracious, frequent followers, and note the visiting writers at this year’s conference. (You see what I mean about good things coming to those writers who commune!?)

Lit Youngstown’s 5th Annual Fall Literary Festival
October 7-9, 2021
Youngstown, Ohio
Conference Theme: “Our Shared Story”
Visiting Writers: Ross Gay, Jan Beatty, Bonnie Proudfoot & Mike Geither

18 thoughts on “The “us” in “writing life”–yeah, let’s go with that

  1. I began to squirm as I read your post…I’m still holding on to my “solitary and broody” existence – haha. 🙂 My local journal (Gordon Square Review) put out a call for volunteer readers. I almost tried for it, just to be connected with fellow writers. At the last minute, I changed my mind because I want to focus on genre writing with a dash of literary, as opposed to the other way around. Still. I’m going to keep my eye on your conference, if only to meet YOU face to face! And my baby step is to join HWA.

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    1. Haha, I’m plenty solitary and broody still, Kelly! And I thought of you when I saw that GSR call for readers. But I think you’re smart to make sure you’re connecting with your tribe (HWA sounds like a smart move) and spending time reading what you want to be writing.

      And you know I would be SO THRILLED to be able to meet up in person at the Lit Festival. I do think there’d be panels and workshops up your alley. Last year one of the panels included CLE thriller writer D.M. Pulley–do you know her? Also, there was a workshop just on developing your elevator pitches (or multiple pitches for the various writerly things you’ve got going on). Always a wide variety–plus it’s nice to be on a college campus for a weekend–call me weird (or maybe nostalgic!) I aim to meet up with you somehow!

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  2. Congrats on being ask to serve on the Lit committee. What a great opportunity to experience what goes on behind the scenes. And I gotta tell you, that’s a big fat bummer about being overseas, not being able to participate in these types of events. I shall live vicariously thought you! Enjoy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lani! It will be super interesting to see how such a conference comes about–many hands, that’s for sure. I do hope for you, being overseas, and for easier access for any number of reasons, literary festivals and conferences take a note from the 2020 playbook and provide some online content. We’ll see!

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  3. How cool is that to be on the committee! I’m so excited for you. I’d love to come to your conference, being a writer, but I don’t know if I can swing it. I’m sure it’ll be awesome though with you on the panel!

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    1. It will be fun to see how a literary festival happens–from back stage, as it were. Of course, I would love to tempt you to travel all the way to Youngstown, so we could meet in person! But I also understand that a writer’s time is precious and we all have to do with it what makes sense for us and our stories. Hope yours are coming along!

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  4. What a great line-up of Visiting Writers, Rebecca! I’d love to hear Ross Gay read sometime—and I think he actually teaches in my state! Best wishes on the festival. Sounds like a wonderful literary gathering—and I know you’re the perfect person to help with that planning committee! They couldn’t have chosen a better writer/reader/PR person! Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m so excited about all the visiting writers, especially Ross Gay, who will be the keynote. You’re right, Deb, he’s at Indiana U–you lucky Hoosier, you! The festival should be a good time–it always is–and I hope I can do some good on the planning end of things. Please do spread the word of the call for proposals if you have any writer/editor/prof/publisher/literary-type friends who might be interested in making it to Youngstown in October–including you! Thanks, as always, for being here, my friend!

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    1. That’s fantastic! It’d be great to see you there. It really is a wonderful conference–2 full days and super reasonably-priced. There’s always a good mix of more academic/MFA-type folks, genre authors (CLE-area thriller writer D.M. Pulley was there last year), and avid writers and readers from the community. Totally not stuffy (like other conferences I’ve attended) and very friendly, with casual fun in the evenings, including open-mike for those brave readers!

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