It's a new year (in case you haven't noticed that everything looks different), and I have three wishes for the Utah Children's Writers community.
1. I wish for a lot of news of new books from within the community.
Over the last several years, it seems like Utah writers have been especially successful. When I joined the Utah Children's Writers discussion group on Yahoo several years ago, it seemed like we only had a handful of successful writers. Since then, quite a few Utahns (or people with Utah ties) have been published and seen some great success, including national awards. At the same time, it seems like the number of people who are working to become published, or who are writing for the love of it, has exploded. Our community is large and varied. So, my biggest wish for the year is that we can look back at the end of the year and say the class of 2014 is the best and biggest yet. To accomplish this, we can help each other, and we can use conferences and social media to promote ourselves and other Utah writers by spreading any good news quickly.
2. I wish for a stronger community.
As our community has grown, it sometimes feels scattered. The nice thing about a community is that we can all help each other bring more respect to Utah writing by building and strengthening our community, mentoring each other, and sharing news and tips. We have a bunch of ways to do that now. We have the Yahoo discussion group that helped to create that initial sense of community. We have a Facebook page that has the potential to become much more active. And of course, we also have this blog. There are other Utah writing groups besides our UCW family of pages.
I'd like to see the connections between all of our sites strengthened. I'd like to see us use social media to promote our fellow Utah writers, to spread news about the community, to help each other grow as writers, and to build a true sense of community among writers of all experience levels and interests. One thing Utah is known for is our strong communities, and we should be a reflection of our culture.
If there's a conference, a signing, a personal appearance, a class, a crit group that needs members, or if there's happy, cheerful publishing news from you or someone you know, use social media to spread the news.
Tweet. Create Utah Writers boards on Pinterest. Participate on the blog by reading and commenting. Share news and information on Facebook. Use the Yahoo group as another, more private way to access the knowledge that overflows from Utah writers. Cross-post. Ask questions. Give answers. Be visible. Being a visible part of the community with enhance your own reputation as a writer, as well as building the community.
3. I wish for a lot of words.
The best way to build our community is to write a lot and build Utah's reputation in those big coastal cities. Show them that Utah is serious about writing. Put our high level of education and trans-world experience to use. Show those agents and editors that a Utah return address indicates reliability, dedication, and quality, and that we're not some backward state in the middle of nowhere. The way to do that is to write. A lot. And to do it well. Write, revise, and write some more. Good, bad, or great, let's pile on the words. The only way to be a writer is to write, something I have to remind myself often.
Let's make 2014 the Year of the Utah Writer.