The benefits of collaboration
The British & Irish Writing Community started life as a hashtag on Twitter in January 2019. It was my way of encouraging folk in those isles to get together to support and encourage each other. I'd started to appreciate how social media could alleviate some of the isolation writers experience. A network of people with local knowledge seemed like a good place to start addressing that isolation and Twitter felt like the right platform.
With the help of my writer friends Damien Larkin (https://www.damienlarkinbooks.com) and Lee Conley (https://www.leeconleyauthor.com) we promoted the idea and found a great deal of enthusiasm. We set up a group on Facebook (BIWC) which now has well over a hundred active members. In the group people pose questions when they need advice, we help promote each other's work and provide a sounding board for ideas. It's prime aim is to reflect the values of any good community - support, encouragement and friendship.
Bard of the Isles developed as a vehicle to encompass those values. It's an online magazine made up of stories, articles and interviews with our members. It's a showcase for the enormous talent that exists in the community.
Here are a few of the benefits to such a collaborative venture:
Promoting the work of each other is a form of validation which readers appreciate. It means they're getting reaction and feedback from like-minded people who are in the same business and share the same passions
Collaborating on stories is possible because you meet others who share a similar goal as you. It might arrive out of an online discussion or a social media thread but the community provides a network to find other interested parties
You have a network of people who can recommend editors, cover artists, illustrators, agents, publishers and the like. In fact some of those roles are already in the community! No need to risk 'pot luck' any more! This is a community of shared experiences - where you get to join in with the sharing
Sharing stuff is child's play! The hand-outs you were given on a course, the experience you've gained from publishing, the inspiration you gained from visiting a festival or con - these are things to share and pass around the community. It's like when kids share their toys, they get a lot more fun than if they played on their own.
It's not surprising that the community continues to grow and people enjoy being part of this collaborative venture. Writing doesn't need to be insular and isolating. Our next edition of Bard of the Isles shows why!