I believe in magic. Not Harry Potter magic, with wands and big fancy Hollywood effect explosions. But the kind of magic that exists when a group of like-minded individuals get together in order to accomplish a goal. A community, if you will.
It is magic, there is no doubt about it. As a race, humans are perpetually at war with each other. But when we have a common goal, something that we all want so bad, we can taste it, touch it, and smell it, we have this way of working together that is truly remarkable. In the FOSS community, that goal is software development. Sure, there are disagreements, but look at what they have accomplished in such a short time, and with next to no resources.
A bunch of developers get together with a common goal, and soon there is a new application, free for everyone to download, use, modify, and improve as they please. It's admirable. It's one of the things that attracted me to Linux and Free Software to begin with.
I thought this type of community was unique to software development. That this type of co-operation could not possibly be reproduced anywhere else.
I was wrong.
When I started writing The Time Weaver, I knew nothing about writing. I've learned quickly, and taken a book that would have been mediocre on my own, and turned it into something great. Without all the community support (and the extensive editing abilities of my wife) I never would have gotten this far.
NaNoWriMo has its own community of people that encourage you, help you, and offer great constructive criticism in order to help you achieve your goal. They ask for nothing in return. When I finished NaNo, I moved on to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. This is a contest for a $15,000 publishing contract, and some pretty hefty prestige along with it. 2012 will be my second year entering. The reason I'm coming back for a second year? The community.
Hundred of entrants all gather on the ABNA forums and post their pitches and excerpts, and they all help each other improve their entries. They could just as easily sabotage others, as they are competitors. But they don't. Everybody helps everybody be the best that they can be, even if it means that person could later on bump their own entry out of the contest. I've never seen anything like it, and I love it. I myself spend an extraordinary amount of time helping other entrants with their pitches. I want them to succeed as much as I want myself to succeed.
One place in particular truly embodies the magic that is community: Twitter.
Some people see Twitter as a teeming mass of noise with no end. I disagree. I've found some remarkable people on Twitter. They care what you have to say, they spread the word about your posts, and when a challenge is posed to them, they respond with authority. I was 35 followers shy of 1000. I had been gaining followers at a rate of 1 or 2 per day. I thought it would be interesting to see how many new followers I could get in one night. Twitter responded with style. I gained over 60 new followers that night, and made some new friends in the process.
It's amazing what happens when you just ask.
Community is one thing that appears to stand the test of time. Whether it be a virtual community such as Twitter or ABNA, or a real life community of collectors, gamers, or otherwise, when people get together and put their minds to it, it's truly magical.
As for my book? Well, each of the communities I listed above helped me on my way. I wrote the words, but it was people from each of these communities that read the drafts, offered their suggestions, and helped me drastically improve my writing. If you're curious about the type of work that community can help create, check out my book, and then let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading!
I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say. Contact Me, I'd love to hear from you.
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