Writers adept at networking are finding ingenious ways to suit Facebook to their own purposes. I manage to understand what I can of online social networking by monitoring and learning from their examples.
“What’s this for?” is often the initial reaction of people I invite to join Facebook. Lacking a brilliant answer, I usually suggest it’s similar to a library or coffee shop, where you might go to feel connected even when you’re busy or preoccupied and don’t have much time to talk to anyone. I always pick up a few free newspapers with my books or coffee, which is how I learn of literary events in the Columbus area. Networking on the Web is going to change that habit.
As the number of people to whom I’m connected through Facebook increases, so do my chances of noticing events of interest mentioned on their Facebook profiles. Occasionally, I’m surprised to learn a neighbor shares my enthusiasm for writing. More often, the reverse happens. I become connected to a writer through Facebook, and the person’s posts lead me on new explorations. All of this can happen without direct, intentional communication between the other person and me, just as it would if, at a party, I overheard someone discussing an upcoming event I might want to attend. And when was the last time I went to a party?
This is a group designed to help professional and aspiring poets (writers, screenwriters & songwriters) find and post information about poetry organizations, publishing/small press, book releases, poetry contests and award info, festivals, and whatever else we need to know. The goal is eventually to have a forum where people can hear firsthand reports on almost any literary events in Canada and globally.
Facebook simply provided Allard with a free and expedient means of gathering information that can be shared with anyone anywhere at any time. Of course, it took Allard to envision how to make good use of the platform.
As I see more of these examples, it will become second nature to emulate them. Already, in addition to Allard’s community, anyone can join and contribute to these and other literary groups on Facebook:
The Facebook Review – a free literary magazine published on Facebook One Million Writers Demand Email Submissions – a group currently consisting of 361 members
Spoken Word Lovers – based in Coral Gables, Florida
Without such networking groups, I wouldn’t know that the brother of one of my daughter’s former classmates is a talented writer, and I wouldn’t have seen his recent essay in the Emory Wheel.
I honestly didn’t expect Facebook users to inspire me. That they have is a pleasant surprise.