Monday, July 21, 2008

Only Connect!

Last week, Heather Hummel and I had the chance to present together at the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference. We presented on “Creative Collaborations” and talked about how to make partnerships work when you’re not in the same town or time zone.

The conference provided a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our decade-long partnership and what we’ve accomplished together. While working on the presentation, Heather and I realized that we have not been in the same room for more than 24 hours in over seven years. But because of our ongoing work with Blood Orange Review, we were able to sit down and work together face-to-face as though no time had passed between us.

In more than a few presentations I attended over the week, participants expressed the desire for community. How do you find like-minded writers? How do you continue to grow as a writer if you can’t find anyone to share your words with? For Heather and I, the key to making a partnership work has been creating an environment where we can share ideas. Because in the past decade the two of us have moved over 14 times, that communal space had to be virtual. Blood Orange Review is our cafĂ© and our classroom.

Some people, some very credentialed and qualified people, believe that online forums allow us to isolate ourselves further. We participate in discussion boards with people around the world but still feel lonely. We have 200 “friends” on a social networking site, but still have no one to pick us up from the airport. I agree.

However, at the conference last week, I had the pleasure of meeting three contributors from past issues of Blood Orange Review: Pat Daneman, Sayantani Dasgupta, and Emily Evans Larson. I sat in presentations with them or heard new work they’ve written, and it’s exciting to meet these writers in the flesh. What I’ve learned from working on Blood Orange Review is that the world is not as huge as I once thought it was. If anything, this forum can be a doorway and an introduction to new people and ideas, as it has been for Heather and I.

PS – The editors have some fun stuff planned for upcoming issues, including a themed edition of the Swing Shift Writers’ Series all about rejection and failure. Check it out!

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