Tag Archives: Community

Let’s Not Say Goodbye, Only Farewell

As you’ll see from Wally’s blog today, Black Ink, White Paper is winding up. We’ll be done as of December 31. We’ve had a terrific time with all our readers, but it’s time for us – for all of us – to move on to something new. So if you’ve enjoyed any one of us, or all of us, please follow us on our new endeavors. At the end of the year, we’ll leave you with all our personal blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook, and whatever other social media we subscribe to.
We’ll enjoy seeing you during December – and elsewhere after that.
Kate and Lisa


When I heard the news that Black Ink White Paper was going to be retired at the end of the month, I was filled with all sorts of emotions. Sadness, relief, anger (at myself) came rushing in to harass me, assail my psyche. Why you might ask? Anyone who knows me will tell you I am neither self-deprecating, and I certainly don’t think of myself as a victim. I guess my first thought was the shutting down of the blog was a sign that it had failed, we, the writers, had failed, I had failed. Which, after I quit beating myself up, I realized was as far from the truth as one could possibly get.

Black Ink White Paper managed to grow and prosper for 20 some months, providing an insight to the life of the writer, from the perspective of an eclectic group of writers, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, essayists, short story writers, word smiths and yarn spinners who create a profusion of stories in plethora of disciplines: short fiction, poetry and novels / women’s fiction, magic realism, paranormal, erotica. /non-fiction adventure thriller/ YA fantasy, YA novel, science fiction/screenplay romance, and fantasy. We gave the blog readers a look into the “Writing Life” and a glimpse into our souls.
But first and foremost, we, the writers, became friends, friends I will never forget, friends I cherish as much as I cherish family. People I will miss sharing with on a daily basis. The blog was a direct connection that I will miss.

I have promised myself to make every effort to stay in touch with all the writers, no matter how crazy life gets. And I hope they will all do the same. I know I have gotten to know some of you better than others, but you are all in my thoughts and I don’t want to lose any of you. And that goes for the readers, too.

Let’s stay in touch, share our victories and achievements and if time and fate allow…

…a wee dram of good scotch whisky



dum dum dum. . . And Nothing Happened

Voice Over: (Michael Palin) June the 4th, 1973, was much like any other summer’s day in Peterborough, and Ralph Melish, a file clerk at an insurance company, was on his way to work as usual when… (da dum!) Nothing happened! (dum dum da dum) Scarcely able to believe his eyes, Ralph Melish looked down. But one glance confirmed his suspicions. Behind a bush, on the side of the road, there was *no* severed arm. No dismembered trunk of a man in his late fifties. No head in a bag. Nothing.

Last weekend, I drove an hour and a half to meet with 2 women I had only ever met on the internet.

No, wait, that’s not exactly true. I had only corresponded with one of them. She had chatted with the third on the net and thought we had a lot in common and would all enjoy each other’s company.

So, there we were, on one level you could say we were three strangers agreeing to meet one another in a town none of us were completely familiar with, all of us an hour or more from home.

Risky behavior? The set up for a cheesy horror movie? The opening of a public service announcement for online safety?

Nope. None of the above.

What actually happened is the three of us spent the day chatting, laughing, walking, and lunching in lovely downtown Northampton, walking away with a new appreciation for our fellow writers and plans to meet up again.

It’s a new world we find ourselves in. Especially for those of us who didn’t grow up in the uber-connected world of social media. We’ve all heard the stories of on-line predators and even in the cartoons, we’re warned that ‘on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog.’ http://www.condenaststore.com/gallery.asp?startat=%2Fgetthumb.asp&CategoryID=146227&txtSearch=nobody+knows++you%27re+a+dog&x=0&y=0

My experience has been of developing solid and lasting friendships through my online communities. Over the past few years, I have ended up meeting IRL (“in real life”) many of the poets and writers I have chatted, emailed, and participated in virtual groups with.

Not a single one of them turned out to be a zombie, an ax-murderer, or a dog.

So in no particular order, I want to give a shout out to some of my online-turned-meat-space friends:


While I am certain someone will have a story of an online relationship going tragically wrong, I maintain that it’s a lot less compelling to repeat a story where, like the Monty Python skit referenced in the epigraph, ‘and nothing happens.’ Which, I’m willing to bet, comprises the vast majority of these kind of interactions.

I’m also not advocating throwing common sense and basic safety out the window here. (Meet in a public place, let people in your life know where you’ll be, leave at any time you feel uncomfortable, etc.) But the reality is, especially in a community based on shared interests that you have some working relationship with (like on online critique group), your real life connections will mirror your virtual ones.

I know my community of writers would be a far poorer one without the friends I’ve made through my online writing groups.


Unburned Community

We often long for community, creating it out of thin air if it seems lacking in real life. I’ve spent a great deal of my life being outside of it – first when I grew up in a small town, but not really. Growing up 20 miles outside of a small town means I didn’t have neighbors (though there were the kids from the dairy farm down the road) in the traditional sense. I had friends in school but there weren’t a lot of after-school play dates or sleepovers. Those things had to be carefully planned out and organized.

So most of my life I’ve managed to live just on the edge of community. Feeling like I’ve never quite fit in, never quite knew my neighbors, was never quite there.

Almost a year ago, we bought a house in a quiet little place in Colorado Springs just south of Garden of the Gods. There is joy here. There is beauty. There is silence. And there is community.

The events of the past two weeks, when a wildfire sparked in one of my favorite running spots, was driven by scorching temperatures and fierce winds, came sweeping down on the homes of my friends and fellow neighbors just a few miles to the north of us has shown me community.

Homes and lives were lost – a heartbreaking swath of black and gray now blankets the mountainside. Homes and lives were spared thanks to the dedication of some of the bravest people I will never meet. Firefighters from all over came to Colorado to help: Washington State, Oregon, Montana, North and South Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada. The Hot Shots from California came, chasing down the fire as though, in the words of a Colorado Springs Fire Department official, “they wanted the fire to be afraid of them.”

I know, without a doubt, that I owe these men and women my home. In the early days of the fire they protected the Garden that stands between the fire and my home, and on the 26th of June they stood again between it and the fire that had surged out of Queen’s Canyon and burned buildings not two and a half miles north of my house.

Colorado Springs can be a divisive place. We have polar opposites from the political spectrum at work here. We’re stubborn, sharp-tongued, Westerners out here and if we don’t like the look of you we’ll be sure to let you know.

But we take care of our own, and we know – somehow – when it’s important to lay aside all our differences and come together. I’ve hear people all over the country comment with awe on how swiftly Colorado Springs gathered to help those affected by the fire. It’s something we did without any thought at all. Even in the midst of economic hardship we have people volunteering their time, people donating items and money, people standing ceaselessly on the corners day in and day out to cheer on the firefighters during the twice daily shift changes without fail – even in the pouring (and long-awaited) rain.

This is community. This is Colorado Springs and I am grateful to have the chance to be a part of it.



The other day my friend and fellow writer, Angus Vieira, announced he was going to stay in Portland, move down there. You see, Angus went to Portland in November of last year, 2011, to baby sit his old roommate’s bunny rabbit while she was touring Vietnam. That in its self should qualify Angus as a special friend in most people’s book. Not many people could or would uproot their life for two months—that was how long he planed to be gone—to babysit a bunny rabbit.  But Angus is a special guy!

Did I mention the roommate’s an exotic-dancer and that the bunny rabbit has no ears—I guess the mother rabbit gnawed them off… accidentally, of course.  Confused? Maybe I should explain, see, once the roommate, being a compassionate sort—as most exotic-dancers are, according to Angus—was caught up in the grip of an overwhelming urge to adopt this tiny earless bunny, once she laid eyes on it. And Angus, caught up in an overwhelming urge to help out his friend, the exotic dancer, by becoming an earless bunny’s protector and provider, did the right thing.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah…

Angus is a special guy! He likes to let people know up front, he’s a nudist, a Buddhist, a poet, a sometimes pagan and a confirmed bachelor. What he fails to mention, is his best trait, so I will, he’s a trusted friend you can rely on in a pinch—the guy you can call at 3: a.m. to go your bail, and he won’t hang up. Or, if you’re an exotic-dancer, a guy you can call on to babysit your earless bunny! But again, I digress…

Actually, I was going to miss not having my old friend close at hand—there is never a dull moment when Angus is around. Without him here, there would be an empty spot in my circle of friends. Something I dread seeing more and more as I and my friends grow older. I actually worry about my shrinking community. I’m not talking about the larger community of man, or Seattle, or the neighborhood. I’m talking about “MY” community,

my circle of friends and relatives. It’s shrinking—people moving away, people dying… and let’s face it, I don’t get around, as much as I used to—a late night is 11:30, lately. Belva and I live in an apartment. In the two years we’ve lived there, I’ve met a couple of the neighbors… but I don’t know them… very seldom ever see them—none of them are in my circle.

What was I doing wrong? I’m a friendly guy. I belong to all the right social networking groups—Face Book, Twitter, Linked In.  I know hundreds of people, from all over the world. I spend hours and hours every day on my computer, answering email, Face Book messages, working on Belva’s List, writing blogs, writing screenplays, mentoring screenwriters…

Suddenly it dawned on me… I realized that, Angus’s announced move was my wakeup call!  I was allowing myself to be confined to an ever shrinking circle of friends; while he was joining a new circle of friends, becoming a part of a new community and at the same time remaining connected to his Seattle friends.  I either have to adopt an earless bunny rabbit, or Belva and I have to get out and Party More!



I am an interesting contradiction in terms: a loner who prefers to spend most of her time on her own, but who also values community above almost anything else.

Let me explain, if I can.

I live by myself (if you can count living with five cats as living by yourself). I work a job where during the quieter times of the year I might only see a few people over the course of my day’s shift. And I am a writer—by definition a career path spent mostly hunched over a keyboard in solitary splendor.

And I like it that way.

But I have no illusions about why this lifestyle, at least for me, remains healthy and productive. In a word: community.

More specifically, my writing community, which is extensive. This blog, for instance, is the newest addition to that community, but I also have a number of critique partners (without whom my writing would be much poorer), and hundreds of writer friends who encourage, teach, and inspire me. Some of these folks have opened doors for me, or generously taken the time to educate me about the workings of the publishing world and shared their own journeys with me. There have been times of discouragement and doubt when these voices in the wilderness (and Lisa DiDio’s Uggs, aimed at my backside) have been the only things that have kept me going.

But community doesn’t just provide encouragement when times are tough. They give you people to bounce ideas off of, and someone to celebrate with when things finally go right. Having other authors in my life—many of whom I have never met, save through the medium of the internet—gives me a sense of belonging; people who speak the same language, if you will, and who never get tired of discussing plotting vs. panstering, agents and editors, and the dreaded edits.

I didn’t start out with this community, of course, nor did it come about accidentally. When I decided on the life of a professional author, I set out purposely to find people with whom I could share this strange and solitary career path—and the love of words and writing that drove me to follow it.

If you are a writer, I highly recommend building your own writing community. Start by following the authors you enjoy on Facebook and Twitter, by reading their blogs and commenting, and by reaching out to other writers at every stage of their careers. And don’t just take in wisdom and advice, either. Help to promote the people you like, offer advice if you have any, take part in contests, and join writing loops. Writing communities don’t build themselves, after all. But then, neither do writing careers. And if you want to have one, you are going to need the other.

Welcome to ours.

Deborah Blake