Nov 5th, 2019
Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!
First episode of November and some of you are probably 1/6 of the way into NaNoWriMo. If so, you no doubt know just significant your involvement in writing communities can be with help, support, and encouragement. But writing communities aren’t just for when NaNoWriMo rolls around and no one knows that better than our guest on today’s podcast, Miri Baker. We got to talk to Miri about her extensive history and experience in all kinds of groups and oh boy did she have some great stories! Miri also offered us some sage wisdom for those looking to get more involved in their communities or even just find one to join. You can (and should) check her on her socials, linked below.
We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.
We Make Books is a podcast for writer and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, and what your reactions and theories were when you first saw Azula at the end of Season One of Avatar.
We hope you enjoy We Make Books!
Find Miri at:
Kaelyn: 00:00 Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of the We Make Books podcast, a show about writing, publishing and everything in between. I am Kaelyn Considine and I'm the acquisitions editor for Parvus Press.
Rekka: 00:09 And I'm Rekka. I write science fiction and fantasy as RJ Theodore.
Kaelyn: 00:13 So a couple exciting things here. Let's do first and foremost.
Rekka: 00:19 Yeah, I mean this is, this is a big day. We've been telling you that you about -
Kaelyn: 00:22 This is a milestone.
Rekka: 00:23 Yes, you can, you know, if you've been listening that we have been asking for email@example.com/WMBcast and someone's heard us.
Kaelyn: 00:33 Someone's heard us. We have our first patron. Thank you so much to Robert McAdams.
Rekka: 00:37 Our first patron, uh, who, you know, went online and found value in what we're giving out here on this show and the guidance and everything. And so it's just fantastic.
Kaelyn: 00:48 Means a lot to us.
Rekka: 00:49 It really does. So thank you. And, um, if you would like to join in and also participate in that support, you can go to patreon.com/WMBcast.
Kaelyn: 00:58 Um, second exciting thing. We have a guest on this episode.
Rekka: 01:01 We have kidnapped someone. Wait, no, the lawyers are telling me, I can't say we kidnapped somebody.
Kaelyn: 01:04 She came here of her own will.
Rekka: 01:06 She might've been coerced with pizza.
Kaelyn: 01:08 And we did let her leave eventually. So I think essentially that doesn't really count.
Rekka: 01:13 I mean we got gotta we got the airline in on our whole conspiracy to keep her longer.
Kaelyn: 01:18 Miri had quite a hard time trying to get outta here.
Rekka: 01:20 So there it is. Miri Baker is our guests today. Uh, this is a friend of mine that I met through Twitter. Um, and then we met in person, uh, about a year before this recording at um, world fantasy con in Baltimore. And we have just been peas in a pod since we started talking. And Miri is a fantastic person, a fantastic writer, fantastic cosplay costumer. Like there is no -
Kaelyn: 01:47 Astounding.
Rekka: 01:48 Miri is kind of like me and that like she will say, I want to topple that and then go topple it. And um, so Miri is just a fantastic human being and as happens with fantastic human beings, they make friends. And, um, so Miri is here to talk to us today about the writing community. Um, the different forms that can take Miri's experience with which extends over half her life.
Kaelyn: 02:13 Yes. Um, you'll hear some stories in this episode. She has been not shy about getting involved in things right from the get go.
Rekka: 02:20 Yeah. And, um, and the value that she finds in that, and I think it's important because, uh, writing tends to be a very solitary act, but I think we've talked about before in other episodes that you need support from the outside and there are different kinds of support and Miri talks about what they are and where she's found them and the recommendations and some tips and tricks from that.
Kaelyn: 02:43 You know, um, it can be a little intimidating to uh, dip your toe in the water here and a Miri's got a lot of thoughts on why it shouldn't be.
Rekka: 02:50 Absolutely.
Kaelyn: 02:51 Even if you are still intimidated, some, uh, suggestions and advice for how to mitigate that. So, um, we had a really great time talking to Miri. We'll probably, definitely have her back again in the future.
Rekka: 03:01 Almost certainly.
Kaelyn: 03:03 Almost certainly.
Rekka: 03:04 And yeah, Miri is just fantastic. And here comes the evidence
Speaker 2: 03:15 [inaudible]
Kaelyn: 03:24 There's going to be awesome, uh, a mulled, things to drink.
Rekka: 03:29 There's a uh, oh, what do you call it? The thing that I have been doing and the word is not soaking.
Kaelyn: 03:37 I mean, soaking is not wrong.
Rekka: 03:41 It is literally technically correct. The best kind of correct. However, not the word I was looking for. Well, um, uh, an infused bourbon.
Kaelyn: 03:48 Yes.
Rekka: 03:49 And I basically took mulling spices and -
Kaelyn: 03:51 I'm very excited.
Rekka: 03:52 And it smells amazing. So, um, if you can't tell we were recording this on or close to Halloween.
Kaelyn: 03:57 Yes. We're very excited about this.
Miri: 03:59 A lifestyle.
Rekka: 04:00 Yes. And so as we have, um, a company in one of these company happened to be another writer in my circle of writing know, know these peoples, yeah.
Kaelyn: 04:11 I mean petition to officially change communities to Circle of Know These People's,
Rekka: 04:16 I mean that's obviously going to be the episode title. Now we've hit it already.
Miri: 04:19 Yes. Humans. I am also a people.
Rekka: 04:22 So, um, why don't you introduce yourself, A People as you claim to be, and we'll get into actually doing this episode so we can get to actually eating all the food that we've just mentioned.
Miri: 04:33 It's delicious, delicious food. Hello everyone. My name is Miri Baker. I write fantasy for adults and weird fantasy, paranormal, sometimes Gothic whatever nonsense for middle grades and young adult. And I am just about to be working on a middle-grade Gothic for one of my very favorite things of the year in National Novel Writing Month, which I'm sure no one on this program has ever heard of before.
Rekka: 04:55 Definitely not.
Kaelyn: 04:56 We didn't talk about this at length two weeks ago for sure.
Miri: 05:00 So we wanted to talk about, um, sort of one of the side benefits of NaNoWriMo and um, lots of other venues of writing with other people.
Speaker 1: 05:09 Yeah. We haven't actually said what we're talking about in this episode yet.
Rekka: 05:13 It didn't people listen to the intro?
Kaelyn: 05:13 Well, there's an intro, but I'm, you know.
Rekka: 05:15 We always assume that they are all with it and together they're like obviously we were up all night talking and just chatting last night. So we can't make, do good words.
Kaelyn: 05:25 We're talking about writing communities today.
Rekka: 05:27 And Miri has fingers in many writing community pots.
Miri: 05:30 Extensive interactions.
Rekka: 05:33 Miri washes her hands by the way.
Miri: 05:35 Yes, human I do wash my hands.
Kaelyn: 05:37 Yeah. So, um, why don't you tell us a little bit about like some of the communities you're in an active in?
Miri: 05:44 Yeah, so I've been involved in local and online NaNoWriMo communities since 2005. I have held regional in-person write-ins. I hold zoom, uh, online write-ins I'm participate in online Slack groups, uh, writing Twitter. We all know about writing Twitter.
Kaelyn: 06:04 We do.
Miri: 06:04 I have dug up coworkers in my tech organization who I found out also, write. And taking them out to cafes where we also write.
Rekka: 06:10 Necromancy is going to be a theme, by the way, when she's digging up people like, let's just assume she means literally.
Miri: 06:17 Look, there's a skeleton inside you right now that wants to be free. Let's see. I have attended the writing excuses retreat workshop. Which is held on a boat. And that means that you can't get away from your community unless you just go hide in one of the many wonderful looks on the ship. And I'm several online Slack groups, discords etc. Etc.
Rekka: 06:36 So if there are people you will find them.
Miri: 06:39 And dig them up.
Rekka: 06:41 And dig them up [laughs] reanimate them if necessary. So start with like your first intro into, I think it is going to be the NaNoWriMo story or yeah, so the Kaelyn was excited for the story. So let's get -
Kaelyn: 06:52 It's a good story.
Rekka: 06:52 She twitching until you tell this story. So go ahead.
Miri: 06:55 It even goes back a little bit further than we were talking about before the show. So I don't know if anyone remembers Gaia online, but there was a writers' forum on Gaia online and that's where I first found out about NaNoWriMo. I think it was June, 2005 something like that. And I had clicked over to the NaNoWriMo forums, reading the NaNo wisdoms thread, looking at all these hilarious mistakes people made and then posted to drag themselves. And I went to my mom and yes, I was 12 at the time, to level set, went my mom and said, "Mom, there are people on the internet and they write a book in a month and it sounds really cool and I want to do it." And her response as a good mother is like, "Yes sweetie, that sounds interesting. That could be fun." "And some of them meet up in our town and I want to go meet them." "I'm sorry you what?" And I distinctly remember forming this whole contract of all the chores I would do and all the good. I was already a good kid.
Miri: 07:45 I didn't actually have a whole lot of leverage here to get my mom to take me to this in person, pre November meetup. And she finally agreed to, I found out later that she messaged our ML and said, Hey, my kid wants to come to this thing. It's not going to be a problem. Like I can tell her no, that's fine. And my ML said no, that's great. We'd love to meet her. That's, that'll be fun. So we go to this little coffee shop that we did not even know existed, uh, less than two miles from our house. And we're waiting in the parking lot because they're getting late opening and she's looking around looking for weird people and readers, she, she did find weird people, but she also found some -
Kaelyn: 08:20 I'm sorry, from an internet group?
Miri: 08:21 No! Um, but also just people getting someone from the local theater group that she knew and it's like, Oh, Pam, uh, I didn't know you wrote. And she's like, Oh, I do. I do. I write. And she did a little bit. And by the end of that first meetup, we had convinced my mother to do NaNoWriMo and then we slowly convinced the rest of my family to do NaNoWriMo and hosted regional meetups at our house. And now we have both been doing and winning NaNoWriMo for 15 years, and neither of us can blink first.
Kaelyn: 08:53 So, all right, who is going to give up first eventually down the line?
Miri: 08:59 Oh. Oh. I don't want to think about that.
Kaelyn: 09:03 All right, well keep us posted every year. We're going to check in.
Miri: 09:06 Sounds good. I, to be fair, I'm the person whose life is going to go through more stage changes between now and whenever. So it's likely to be me, but I'm going to put that one off as long as possible.
Kaelyn: 09:19 Alright.
Rekka: 09:19 Refuse to believe.
Miri: 09:20 Yeah.
Kaelyn: 09:22 So, um, you've been active in writing communities, this kind of thing for over half of your life.
Miri: 09:28 Yes.
Kaelyn: 09:29 That's, that's a lot. So no, but like you keep going back to it. So obviously it's something that's really important in, you know, your writing and your career as a writer. So, but it's also time consuming.
Miri: 09:43 Yes.
Rekka: 09:44 But still important. So can you talk about that, like what it is that makes you still take the time to do all of these things?
Miri: 09:52 Yeah, I think a lot of it does go back to that first nano group. I was, I was 12, I was the only person younger than 21 in that group. And it was the first time I felt like I'm having a conversation with a bunch of adults as a peer, we're all in this thing together. I can contribute, we can all have these shared jokes and kind of build that relationship. And there's something about writing communities where you don't quite have to do small talk in the same way. You can just skip straight to what are you working on, what are you writing? And you learn so much more interesting stuff about somebody in a very short time when they're answering that question. So it's sort of a fast track to friendship has been my experience with it. And after that you have this, this group of people who understand something that's actually very weird in the grand scheme of things that humans spend their time on a, it's like, Oh, I'm making up stories, but it's, it's being made up wrong. How do I deal with this? Um, and just that level of understanding of listening, of getting to know people on this very kind of deep level almost immediately is something that I've sort of been chasing the highest I've ever since.
Kaelyn: 11:02 Okay.
Rekka: 11:03 So you've chased it into many directions. You manage to be a participant in all of these almost simultaneously with the exception of Writing Excuses cruise. Because what will, with the exception of the Writing Excuses Retreat, because you're on a cruise ship with terrible wifi, so you can't participate in all the others at the same time. But um, all those things you listed, like you, you have an ongoing relationship with all those communities pretty much throughout the year, even if they are time basedevents. So why so many, I mean semper majus but you know like why, what do you get out of each one? Like are there different aspects that you're getting or some of them more for professional advice are some of them more for like bonding, friendships, emotional support. Like -
Kaelyn: 11:56 Yeah.
Rekka: 11:56 I'm listing things that I know are part of community. Um, I'm leading the witness. But yeah, like talk about like why so many groups and like could you give up one, I mean like, could you pick a favorite? You know, stuff like that.
Miri: 12:09 Yeah. It's interesting cause I don't think I've ever thought about specifically what I'm getting from each one that's different. But there definitely are things. Obviously writing Twitter is a little bit more of a shout into the world brand building, sort of -
Rekka: 12:22 If we scream into the void together, we're not alone.
Miri: 12:24 Exactly. Yeah. Um, why didn't that, um, the ability to passively keep up with what's going on or what's not going on? Kind of pick up all the pieces there. Uh, and that is, you know, where some of my deeper relationships have formed. For example, I just kind of showed up in Rekka's DMS one day.
Kaelyn: 12:44 This is true.
Miri: 12:44 But I definitely see Twitter as a place where relationships start, but it's a little bit harder for them to deepen. And then I've got Slack communities where depending on the makeup of the Slack community, it could be more professional advice oriented or more emotional support oriented or just everybody key smashing in a very collective supportive way, which is an underrated form of community I find. And then in the Writing Excuses Cruise, the part of that that's really good is that you are spending, you know, 24 hours a day minus whenever you turn into a pumpkin and hide under a tablecloth somewhere with these people. So you form those much deeper relationships very quickly. And then that alumni group is much more close to knit in a shorter time and continues to do in person meetups at conventions or digital write-ins and Hangouts throughout the year. So there's a slightly different tone, like I'm more likely to know that someone I've met in person has kids for example, which is something that might not come up on the internet. And that just gives me something else to talk about. Another point of experience that, that they're drawing on that I can draw on too.
Rekka: 13:50 So as being part of all these online communities, then you can take this into this one space that we left off that initial list I think, but we did talk about before we were, I'm planning the episode is now you can go to a writing conference and what does that do and like how does that defer or how was that built in?
Miri: 14:10 Yeah, it's, it's been a really important part of definitely feeling the community and being able to talk to people. I know humans bad. Yes, human. I'm also a human, but my first conference, for example, world con San Jose, I would not have gone to if I didn't know someone who was going to be there and who told me, Hey, I have an extra spot in my hotel room.
Kaelyn: 14:31 So wait, your first conference was Worldcon San Jose?
Miri: 14:34 Writing conference, yeah.
Kaelyn: 14:34 Writing conference, that's like, that's a dive into the deep end.
Miri: 14:38 My first convention at all was DragonCon.
Rekka: 14:41 Yeah. It was just, for Miri, that was walking backwards.
Miri: 14:46 Yeah. So someone invited me into their room, which meant if all else failed, I had friend or at least one place to go hide. And then of course there were other people in the room and I got to know them and they were awesome and I was invited along to dinner where we're meeting even more people or I'm introducing, Oh Hey, there's this person that I met on writing excuses is going to be here. Anybody want to come out for ice cream with us? And just sort of forming those natural connections. And it's really easy to think like, yes, I will learn my way into the hotel room with the fancy people. And that's, that's, that's, that's just so much energy y'all, that's not an efficient way to go about it. In addition to the other obvious problems but -
Rekka: 15:28 Also slimy.
Miri: 15:30 But also there's the, I'm in person, I can present myself in a more immediate way than I can online. Like I can have all of the goth paraphernalia on my personal profiles as I want, but if I'm just out on Twitter, that doesn't always come through. Whereas one of my actually local writer friendships I made at a conference because I was wearing some kind of nonsensical doc Martins and another wonderful writer was also wearing kind of nonsensical doc Martins and we are now bonded for life.
Kaelyn: 16:01 I think that's definitely how that, yeah.
Rekka: 16:03 Yeah. I've had a lot of people approach me at conferences because of the earrings I'm wearing and they just, I don't know if it's really that they see the earrings and they have to go talk to the person who wears those earrings. But it definitely gives you like, like I can talk to you about something.
Kaelyn: 16:16 Yeah.
Rekka: 16:17 When you have in your, when your brand is out there and you're, you know, displaying something that is interesting in some way. But then also, yeah, you find other people who know exactly. You know what you're about when you're wearing them and then they just walk up to you and they don't even have to say anything. They just, you know, this person can stick their, their foot out and you see the shoes and you're like, all right, cool.
Kaelyn: 16:37 Yes.
Rekka: 16:38 So I'll see you. Yes.
Miri: 16:39 My people.
Rekka: 16:40 We are -
Kaelyn: 16:40 I found my clan.
Rekka: 16:41 Yes. So, so aside from, um, having someone to go have ice cream with, you know, like what, where do those relationships go after the conference is over?
Miri: 16:53 I think I'm still in a phase of figuring that out, but there's definitely sticking around on Twitter, being able to engage in more conversations, generally knowing more of what's going on because I know more people who know what's going on.uh, there is always so much going on and I've, I mean, if we want to go super transactional, whether it's like I met this person who introduced me to these people who introduced me to this community and I can just trace this back to that one hotel room in San Jose.
Kaelyn: 17:20 Well, that's, I mean, and we've talked about this previously on this. There's, I think there's like this weird guilt of like showing up to conferences and with this idea of like, I'm not just here to network, but it is okay to go to conferences and meet people that you're hoping to work with or to develop a professional relationship with in the future. And you know, conferences are a great place to do that.
Rekka: 17:41 Yeah. I mean Miri used the word transactional, like yeah, if you go in with the attitude of what can you give me in exchange what I can give you, then your networking is not going to grow organically in the way that you're describing. Um, you are going to have to claw and fight for every business card that you get because you're going to be putting off that like used car salesman vibe that everyone in the room can smell.
Miri: 18:07 Um, yes -
Kaelyn: 18:08 It's smells like weird cologne and plasticky suits.
Rekka: 18:11 Yeah. And that new car smell, air freshener, that does not smell like new car. Um, but when you go in and sincerely and then you have a great conversation and you realize like, Oh, I need, I want to go attend this programming for example, then it's okay, do you have a card? Because like I am desperate not to like lose this connection that we just made as opposed to like whipping out the card before you even get your name pronounced all the way. Like I guess that's where you visually, that's the definition of transactional for me. It's like, I'm, I'm here to give you my card. If you've ever been to a, um, a trade show that's, uh, like, uh, electronics trade show or security trade show or all this kind of stuff that I've attended where people leap out into though aisles to scan your badge, that is the like extreme end. But that's kind of what that feels like. Where someone's looking like, I know what book you wrote, I'm going to talk to you. Do you know an agent for me? I'm like -
Kaelyn: 19:11 No, that's, yeah.
Kaelyn: 19:12 Yeah.
Kaelyn: 19:13 But other good communities.
Rekka: 19:14 So yeah, we have, we have to touch on how to be the good community.
Kaelyn: 19:19 You know what, and that's actually, you know, a thing too that we can talk about too is bad community participants and people who maybe aren't improving the community by their presence. It's a thing that happens.
Miri: 19:36 It is.
Kaelyn: 19:37 And it's something that, you know, you don't want to be that one in the community. Um, so you know, in your experience, because you're in a lot of these communities, what would you say, like how should you come to the table and what should you not bring to the table in terms of expectations and why you're there and behavior and behavior?
Miri: 20:00 So there are two sides of this. I think the obvious one is don't be a jerk. Well that, I mean rule number one, right? But there's the specific implications of that here are don't only show up when there's something out there for you. Like it's very easy to tell when somebody is only in a community for the perks or maybe advanced reading copies of something show up occasionally or maybe, Hey, there's this cool opportunity that I'm extending to you, my community first. If somebody only shows up in those moments, you're like, all right, okay. Um, and then if, if they don't show up in the times when other people in the need them or want their input or just want that connection. Um, the other side of it is, and this is more of a, I guess like caution, I would warn against showing up only to be helpful and only two be seen being helpful only to be seen being helpful only to hope that you can give enough and do enough that the important people in the community will notice you and you can, you can do a lot of genuinely helpful things under that motivation and you can feel very good about it for a little while, but it'll just never end up being enough.
Miri: 21:29 So there's the side of this that's, you know, try not to engage in a community just because of the fancy people or whatever you think you can get out of it, but also don't completely discount your own wants and needs as part of being part of that community.
Kaelyn: 21:42 That's a good thing you brought up. You know, an interesting thing is the power dynamic of like the important people in the community. There are going to be important people in any community you go into.
Miri: 21:52 There always are.
Miri: 21:54 And I think some people, you're right, we'll come in with a need to ingratiate themselves to said group, but you know, at the end of the day you still are in this community for a reason. And do you need to get something out of it as well?
Rekka: 22:07 I do see, um, for instance like between the three Nebulas that I've gone to, there are obvious like high school reunion feelings from a lot of -
Kaelyn: 22:20 Oh absolutely.
Rekka: 22:21 Family reunion, like in a positive way. I know like some people go, Oh, high school reunion. I mean like the positive aspects where you get to see someone that you only see on these occasions because we are spread out all over the place online. So, um, you knew if you go and you are not creating relationships that the next time you see that person, their face is going to light up to see you, like maybe rethink your approach.
Miri: 22:46 You're, you're missing an opportunity. You're missing the key opportunity of these impersonal events and they're not for everyone. They're expensive there. There are lots of reasons to not engage, but if you are engaging, take advantage of that.
Rekka: 23:00 Yeah. And people will want to help you and you know, you will, you will go to them like you go to friends because they are your friends now you know when you need support and it's not in the like, you know, Hey, I, you know, where you have to add, like we'll pay a fee in the same statement because you're looking for help and nobody knows who you are.
Miri: 23:18 Yeah.
Rekka: 23:18 You know, like if you just, you go into these communities and like just let yourself fall all the way on like memory foam, you know, like these, I mean then maybe that's a better analogy than I meant. Um, you know.
Kaelyn: 23:32 It's got layers. I like that.
Rekka: 23:34 Well it's got layers. So the community remembers you as long as you keep showing up to leave your impression.
Kaelyn: 23:40 Yes.
Rekka: 23:41 Leave a good impressio, a healthy impression. Be a good human if you are a human.
Miri: 23:45 Yes, human.
Kaelyn: 23:47 So, you know, the conferences, aside conferences are a once a year thing, you know, you go there, great. You meet people, you see people you don't always get to see, but then you're done and you leave. What you're actually using and interacting with more are your online writing communities. So when you're having a problem, when you're, you know, stuck on something, you're feeling unmotivated, that's who you're going to go to. So do you have like an example or a story you can tell us about? Like, you know, something you, one of your communities, your writing communities has helped you work through.
Miri: 24:20 Yeah. I, I think recently I've been a little bit more on the rah, rah, you can do it side because what's better when you're feeling unmotivated than to try and motivate someone else? Um, this is how we create value, right? But I definitely had a book that I've since put aside for a little while that was just kicking my ass for about three years. And I had friends who had been my friends through all of that time or who came in midstream and went, Oh wow, you've been kind of working on this for awhile. And I don't even remember a specific time, but just being able to pop up in one of the channels and say like, Hey, I'm really feeling it today.
Miri: 24:52 Like I want to be writing and I'm just not, and it's terrible. And having a bunch of people not necessarily go the shallow like, Oh no, you can do it. But like, yup. Sucks. I understand. Just the like onslot of we see you, we hear you, we've been through it. Um, and since we've been through it, you can see what it looks like to get through it to the other side. It's just the constant parade of examples of all of us on this wacky sign wave of I'm the best writer ever. No wait, I'm the worst writer ever.
Kaelyn: 25:26 Are you implying that writers have emotions that fluctuate quite a bit? Because I've never encountered it.
Rekka: 25:35 And you remind me that uh, there's that phrase like you are, you're comparing your rehearsal to someone else's, like -
Miri: 25:43 Performance.
Rekka: 25:44 Performance and stuff like that.
Miri: 25:45 And when you're in this community to that level, like you get to see other people's rehearsals as well. And it kind of helps, you know, it's like, Oh, if the person who wrote my no favorite and novella of 2017 is just sitting here key smashing about how words are hard, yo, then maybe I'm okay, maybe it's fine. Well it's, if I got, never underestimate the power of just a repeated, sustained stream of cat gif.
Kaelyn: 26:11 Okay.
Rekka: 26:12 Distraction when you need it.
Miri: 26:13 Yeah. Yeah.
Rekka: 26:14 Cuteness when you need it. Warm fuzzy thoughts and you know, taking torches to the brain weasles.
Miri: 26:20 Yep. And then also like you, you mentioned a little bit earlier, just like people who know what's going on.
Miri: 26:26 And sometimes you think you are in a struggle completely alone that might be like related to the business of the industry itself. And you go to your community and find out like, Oh no, I am not the only one going through this. And that other person that you find going through this realizes, Oh, I'm not the only one going this. And then you can all join hands and care, bear stare at something and fix it.
Kaelyn: 26:47 So, you know, along those lines of people realizing they're not the only ones going through something, someone who's maybe like looking are interested in getting involved in writing communities. What do you suggest? What do you recommend going about doing this? Where do you start looking for the, for the community that's right for you?
Miri: 27:06 Yeah. It's a hard question because a lot of what we've been saying is, Oh, just go make friends and I know I have to go straight to the inner sanctum. Yeah. And especially I was just out of college, you know, doing that. Oh gosh, how do I make friends as an adult thing? It was like, yes, I will just pick friends from the friend tree. That sounds reasonable.
Rekka: 27:24 Um, well maybe I think Old Navy has seasonal sales on friends.
Miri: 27:28 Yeah, I think so. The buy one get one is the deal you want to wait for.
Rekka: 27:30 Yep.
Miri: 27:31 But I think it starts from whatever platforms you're most comfortable interacting on or most familiar with.
Kaelyn: 27:39 Okay.
Miri: 27:40 And because then you sort of don't have to take on the burden of learning. Um, for example, Twitter. Twitter is an acquired language and it's an acquired language that varies by community and there is a lot to be said for working and learning the norms before you're trying to I guess, speak that language. So I was, I was a longtime lurker on Twitter before I showed up in Rekka's DMs. Um, so it, it can be, it can be very slow. Uh, if you can just go to an event and meet people in person, uh, not everyone can again, for many reasons, but that tends to be the fast track.
Rekka: 28:18 But that's sort of like starting from the outside and working your way in. Another way to do that with far less costs would be like to start at the NaNoWriMo forums.
Miri: 28:25 Yes.
Rekka: 28:26 Because that is expected that strangers will show up and start talking to them, um, as opposed to like suddenly finding access to someone's private Slack group showing up one day and everyone goes how did this person get here? Do I know this person? And even, and even that, if you're starting from nothing, it's even hard to do that.
Kaelyn: 28:46 Yeah.
Miri: 28:47 The NaNoWriMo forums are great for that there where I spent a lot of time between ages 12 and 18 and look in the other places that you already are. Cause there might be a writer there. There's, there probably is. We're there .
Rekka: 29:01 You mentioned coworkers -
Kaelyn: 29:02 They're pretty, pretty prolific, you guys are popping up in weird places that I'm -
Miri: 29:09 Like daisies.
Kaelyn: 29:10 I am very surprised in talking to people as soon as I mention anything about like I work in publishing either, Oh I've written something or I know someone who's written something. There's, there's a lot of, and I feel like there that a lot of isolated writers who just kind of write at home like, Hey, if that's, you know, if that's what works for you, that's great. But to any isolated writers that may be listening to this, there are groups of you, what do we call a group of writers? A Confusion?
Miri: 29:38 A Murder. I've used flock a few times.
Kaelyn: 29:43 A Complication of writers.
Rekka: 29:46 An Anxiety of Writers.
Miri: 29:47 Oooooooh.
Kaelyn: 29:48 An Anxiety. Yeah. Nailed it. That's it.
Miri: 29:51 That's it
Kaelyn: 29:51 Yes. So, um, there are Anixieties of Writers.
Miri: 29:55 So many.
Kaelyn: 29:57 Out in the wild.
Rekka: 30:01 I feel like I've reached my peak self.
Kaelyn: 30:04 Nope, Rekka's we can just stop the podcast. It's not this, thank you everyone. This has been wonderful, but it's not going to get better than that, so we're just going to leave.
Miri: 30:12 We're going to be very nervous about it.
Kaelyn: 30:15 Um, but yeah, there, there are so many, like writers are everywhere. Um, go find them.
Miri: 30:21 Yeah. I like take my mom as an example. Her writing community came from her kid wanting to do NaNoWriMo.
Kaelyn: 30:28 And she stumbled into it.
Miri: 30:30 Um, I, I didn't find out until that point that my nap time when I was little, which had gone on weirdly long and turned into my, just go to your room and be quiet and read time was my mom's writing time. I just never knew. It never came up. And I definitely consider myself really lucky to have stumbled across the NaNoWriMo forums because that was that first community that was the people who treated me like adults. That was the people who showed me that, Oh, it's, it's not just me because I was the weird kid. I think writing is a large collective of the weird kids because you, you stick with the imaginary friends thing way longer than is socially acceptable. And from having that community and feeling that I started plucking other isolated writers that I noticed out of my high school, out of my tech job, out of my college. Anyone I talked to, if you've ever met me ever on the street, if it's been more than 20 minutes, you've probably heard about writing, you've probably heard about NaNoWriMo. Just because going from going from nothing to something is such a big jump that it doesn't even necessarily matter what that something is.
Miri: 31:41 Um, going back to using the communities you're already part of, maybe they're totally different. I used to be very involved in the Avatar, The Last Airbender fan community back in the 10 months.
Kaelyn: 31:47 A worthy pursuit of your time.
Miri: 31:49 Such a good community.
Kaelyn: 31:50 We're going to talk about that later.
Miri: 31:52 I was so excited in the 10 months between seasons one and two, mind you, we had just seen a Azula's face for the first time and we didn't know who she was. It was great. And I was on this theories forum and saw somebody else's forum, a signature who had never talked to that said writing a novel back in December and I'm like, aha, I see you. I have found one and I sent her a private message and you know, we're both like 13 flooding into the DM, sliding into the DMS before it was cool. We're both 13 -
Kaelyn: 32:23 Or before it existed.
Miri: 32:24 Yeah. We eventually convinced our parents to let us talk on the phone and then we both convinced our parents to take us to DragonCon that year, which I'm still not very clear on -
Kaelyn: 32:34 You have really cool parents.
Miri: 32:36 I have pretty cool parents. Yes. My name is Miri Baker. I am literally named after the Star Trek character, literally.
Kaelyn: 32:43 All right. Yup.
Miri: 32:44 Okay. I'm still not clear on how the dragon con thing happened because my parents are cool, but they're also very introverted and now my family has visited her family on vacation. Our moms went to New York city together for their 50th birthday.
Kaelyn: 32:58 That is so sweet.
Miri: 32:59 Like she's going to be in my ways and it was just me going, I know what this person is talking about.
Rekka: 33:07 But that speaks to the depth that you get to with these communities if you do them sincerely.
Miri: 33:11 Yeah. Yeah. And the other thing, if you're, if you're in these other communities like maybe you're really interested in, I don't know, model rockets, I guarantee you there's someone in that model rocket community who writes science fiction.
Rekka: 33:23 Yeah.
Miri: 33:24 Or romance. And even if you're not the person who's going to slide into a stranger's DMS, just signal.
Speaker 1: 33:31 Yeah.
Miri: 33:31 Do the internet version of wearing pins on your jacket though.
Kaelyn: 33:34 It's funny cause I always think there should be something you can just like put -
Kaelyn: 33:38 Yeah, just be like I write things, somebody, if anyone wants to talk to me about it.
Miri: 33:44 There's a standard emoji lower left fountain pen that I've found to be very useful for that.
Kaelyn: 33:49 That's yeah, we should make that a thing. If you're involved in writing, that can be your little signal.
Miri: 33:54 It's a thing now.
Kaelyn: 33:56 And a something next to it that's like and yes, please talk to me about it.
Rekka: 34:01 Like green checkmark, smiley face.
Kaelyn: 34:03 I am open to conversation.
Rekka: 34:05 So what happens if you can't find a community like you are seeking and you do not uncover groups in your area or you do not uncover forums that it feel welcoming to you?
Miri: 34:17 Uh, you start your own. Um, because I was the only child in my, in my NaNoWriMo group, I just started talking about it at school and I was in middle school or don't, don't be a middle schooler. That's my advice.
Rekka: 34:33 Yeah, skip that entirely.
Miri: 34:35 Don't, don't be in middle school. But it was weird enough and different enough that people would notice like, Oh Miri has an awful lot of colors of ink on the right side of her right hand this month. And sometimes people will ask, sometimes you get to be that person who's like, look what I am doing. If your place of employment has any kind of social channels or listservs.
Rekka: 34:57 A bulletin board made of cork.
Miri: 34:59 A bulletin board made of cork.
Kaelyn: 35:01 A yes, an actual bulletin board.
Miri: 35:03 A thing that humans used.
Rekka: 35:05 I just want to be clear, I'm not talking about internet bulletin board.
Miri: 35:08 Yeah. Physical place bulletin boards. I've had success just sending out messages into those voids? Not quite voids of Hey there's this thing, it's NaNoWriMo or I will be, I will be writing at this cafe at this time. I would love for you to join me.
Miri: 35:28 Yup. And creating that place where people can come if they want to and you'll still be there doing your thing if they don't. I really enjoy that because if I am in charge of planning something I lose hours of sleep over it. It could be an act of God and Oh no, there was an earthquake, nobody had fun and it's all my fault. But if I'm doing something anyway and I can say I am doing this, I have done all the work of planning it, it is very low key. I would love for you to join me. That creates a very easy space for somebody who's isolated or hasn't even really jumped in, has just thought maybe I would write something that's something I could do to show up and bam. You have ducklings?
Rekka: 36:11 Yes.
Kaelyn: 36:11 Gooslings?
Miri: 36:12 HONK!
Kaelyn: 36:12 Ah, okay. Yup.
Rekka: 36:15 The zeitgeist is strong in this podcast -
Miri: 36:17 I was wearing my honkus ponkus shirt.
Rekka: 36:18 In three years, will anyone know what that meant?
Kaelyn: 36:21 Does it matter?
Miri: 36:23 We don't. We are all the goose.
Rekka: 36:23 We don't want that negativity in our future.
Miri: 36:25 The goose without a name.
Kaelyn: 36:26 Yes.
Miri: 36:27 A goose has no title.
Rekka: 36:28 So before we wrap up, what are favorite things about the writing community?
Miri: 36:33 My favorite part. Uh, the thing that really makes it worthwhile to being in these communities and make these connections is being able to see and genuinely celebrate the successes of our peers. And they don't have to be these huge successes of, Oh, I got this massive book deal, or Oh, I've landed my dream agent. Sometimes the success, and especially if you're this isolated writer kind of doing your own thing in the corner. Sometimes the success is, I wrote a sentence today and it that she's laughing, but this is so true.
Speaker 1: 37:06 Yeah, no, no, I get it because sometimes my successes are, I edited a sentence today.
Rekka: 37:11 All right, we're all on the same page.
Kaelyn: 37:13 There's the occasional one that gets very tricky and -
Miri: 37:17 Okay, from the outside that doesn't seem like a success. So why would you celebrate it? But in these communities, if you're saying maybe people you look up to or people you would just never seen that side of go, I wrote a sentence today and it was the hardest thing I've ever done and everybody cheers and you understand that, Oh wait one, we're, we're just writers or I'll just writers here and two -
Rekka: 37:39 Human writers.
Miri: 37:39 Human writers, definitely human writers.
Kaelyn: 37:41 Carbon-based for sure.
Miri: 37:43 And two: maybe I've been comparing my day to day trying to write, trying to do whatever to everybody else's curated social network. These are the highlights of my life moments. Whereas within the community you see other people's normal carbon-based human life moments and being able to celebrate your friends successes and even celebrate, you know, your friends huge successes.
Rekka: 38:15 Yeah.
Miri: 38:15 Without just wanting to be seen, celebrating them. And it builds that sense of -
Rekka: 38:21 A Slack chat full of high fives.
Miri: 38:22 It's a slack chat full of high fives, right. Or just, you know, ta-da emoji or whatever it is. Um, it really does feel like that that group coming together and just being happy for each other. [inaudible] and I feel like that's something we could, we could all stand to do more of it.
Kaelyn: 38:43 Yes.
Rekka: 38:43 Yes. So I like on that note, we do have a party to get to.
Kaelyn: 38:48 Yes.
Kaelyn: 38:49 Yeah. So it's, Oh, any last thoughts closing things that one piece of advice that you would give anyone looking to join a writing community? Let's, let's go with that.
Miri: 38:59 Ooh, just one.
Kaelyn: 39:00 Just one. If you could only -
Rekka: 39:01 Wear skeleton doc Martens.
Miri: 39:02 Absolutely.
Kaelyn: 39:03 If you could only offer one piece of advice.
Miri: 39:06 One piece of advice, if you're looking to join a writing community, be both open to getting involved in anything that you may see at the edges of your existing communities. Be it a link that somebody sent you or that the one weird cousin posted on Facebook. Just be looking. And at the same time as you're looking, find a way that feels natural to you to signal that you would like to be involved. And that lets other people like me who will slide into your DMS a have that hook to pull you in.
Kaelyn: 39:36 Miri is actively recruiting.
Miri: 39:39 Constantly, always.
Kaelyn: 39:42 So, okay, well thanks so much for talking to us.
Miri: 39:46 Oh, thank you.
Kaelyn: 39:48 There's a, there's a party to get to and there's couple pumpkin's that need to be carved.
Rekka: 39:51 Before we get to the mulled bourbon, um, where can people find you online?
Miri: 39:55 Yeah, you can find me, well, uh, since we have established that I apparently every writing community elemental, uh, the most reliable way is going to be @MiriBaker on Twitter. I also have a website MiriBaker.com that currently just redirect to @MiriBaker on Twitter and I appear occasionally in the NaNoWriMo forums as MiriMirror, which was a very funny Snow White joke when I made the account in 2005.
Rekka: 40:20 Sure. It's still very fun to -
Kaelyn: 40:22 It holds up.
Miri: 40:22 Yeah. Thank you.
Kaelyn: 40:23 Yeah. Well thank you so much again and um, we'll see everyone in two weeks.
Kaelyn: 40:28 Absolutely.
Kaelyn: 40:29 Thank you all.
Kaelyn: 40:31 Thanks everyone for joining us for another episode of We Make Books. If you have any questions that you want answered in future episodes or just have questions in general, remember, you can find us on Twitter @WMBcast, same for Instagram or WMBcast.com if you find value in the content that we provide, we would really appreciate your support at patreon.com/WMBcast. If you can't provide financial support, we totally understand and what you could really do to help us is spread the word about this podcast. You can do that by sharing a particular episode with a friend who can find it useful, or if you leave a rating and review at iTunes, it will feed that algorithm and help other people find our podcast too. Of course, you can always retweet our episodes on Twitter. Thank you so much for listening and we will talk to you soon.