Friday, November 10, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Author Rebecca Skloot - Vancouver, WA
Networking Locally

Authors are constantly admonished to work on their platform. Be consistent on social media. Network, network, network! What I've learned - over the years since I embarked on my storyteller's journey - is that following the above advice is important, but without local networking it's worthless. Yes, a writer must be skilled at online networking, but without person to person contact your platform has no foundation.

Earlier this week I attended the annual FVRL Authors & Illustrators Dinner in my community. It's a fundraiser for our local library with its thirteen branches. I usually donate a basket of my books (with chocolate & coffee!). The formal event is a  highlight of the year for me!

This year's keynote speaker was Rebecca Skloot - author of the New York Times bestselling book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I was completely unaware of the book, and its subsequent movie starring Oprah Winfrey! (A signed copy now sits near my desk waiting to be read.) Listening to Ms. Skloot - as well as other authors over the years - reminded me that each writer's path to publication is as individual as the books she pens. It's always extremely inspiring to hear the challenges other authors encountered along their own storyteller's journey. Ms. Skloot spent over ten years researching and writing the true story about Henrietta Lacks! I look forward to reading it.

In addition to being inspired at this local event, I reconnect each year with several library friends, make new friends, and maintain my commitment to literacy in my community. It's always a win-win!

While I realize not everyone has events like this library fundraiser in their hometown, there are always ways to network locally - even if it's volunteering. That's how I met most of my library friends; I volunteered once a week for two years - assisting in an ESL program at the local branch of the library. I definitely received much more than I gave from the wonderful international group of adult students - and their children!

My local platform is the foundation of my overall networking. The library, local shops, and the art community in general have my back. And I have theirs. Having personal contact with these friends and colleagues provides me with a strength that I could not survive without.

I encourage all writers/authors to connect with their local community!

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