Welcome to another episode of the Writing Family series! Today’s interview-ee is the lovely Anna Meade, mastermind behind Nine Muse Press, and a lovely writer and person all around. Over the years she has forged a remarkable online community of writers and artists who have gained a reputation for being kind, creative, encouraging, and prolific in their respective media.

As one who has invested so much of herself into building up the community of likeminded souls across social media, Anna was a logical choice to interview on what it means to have community in the digital age. Here’s our interview:

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We hear a lot these days about cyberbullying and social media “witch hunts” where people are singled out and beat down, for any number of reasons. You, on the other hand, have been privy to quite a different side of social media – in particular, the ability of the writing community to turn the “hive mind” of the internet into something spectacularly positive. What has that been like?

When I first dipped my toe in the waters of social media, I was lucky enough to find a thriving writers’ community on Twitter. These people slowly migrated to my Facebook. My friends LE Jamez, M.K. Boers and R. Postupak were kind enough to assemble a collection of tales to celebrate my engagement. They started a writing group there that has grown now to 200+ people, writers, artists and creatives.

Because I ran several writing contests, a few which had a fairytale theme, I soon became known as the Dark Fairy Queen. I began to curate content for this group and encourage people to bring their problems, questions and fears to the group at large. Writers often feel alone, because they are surrounded by people who don’t write and don’t necessarily understand the compulsion or the unique challenges. The group allows people to not feel so alone.

Why do you think that writers, artists, and other “creative types” typically demonstrate more of this positive response to the online community?

The Facebook group is, without question, one of the most supportive, loving online groups I have ever seen. They lift each other up, cheer each other on, soothe and comfort, and celebrate successes. There is a generosity of spirit that truly humbles me whenever I witness it. I have always wanted to host a salon of creatives, collectives of people who inspire and challenge each other. I never thought it would be online.

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I understand that the online writing community has come through for you as well, in a pretty amazing way. What was that like?

The online writing community has blessed me in countless ways. They give and give and give, not only to me but to everyone in the group. A little while ago, my precious childhood piano was damaged and I was unable to afford the repairs. My online friend A.E. Howard organized a GoFundMe and they raised enough money together for me to get someone out to work on it. The work is ongoing, but the act of giving brought me to tears.

 

In this digital age, there is still a lot of debate about whether or not people you meet online are “real” friends, or mere bobbleheads that “yes ma’am” your views but add no real value to the human experience. Based on your own experiences, do you think that is truly the case?

I would say anyone who thinks you cannot create real friendships on the internet hasn’t even tried. I have met almost none of these people, yet I have laughed with them, cried with them, created with them. Our friendships are as real as any traditional relationship.

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What do you think is the greatest strength of the online writing community? How can those tapped into social media “pay it forward” and genuinely grow a strong, supportive community such as you have experienced yourself?

I would never pretend to speak for the entire online writing community – it is far too vast and mysterious. If I had any recommendation to those who would like to be part of a group such as the one I am fortunate to be in, I would say to be generous. Don’t only talk about your own work or try to sell your books. Share the work of others without expecting reciprocity, ask questions, be interested and involved. I have learned so much and have so much to learn from those around me online. The collective is so much stronger than the individual.

 

11118541_1478283219128352_802102208_nThe wonderful lady herself.

 

Thanks to Anna for such a wonderful interview! To follow her creative pursuits – and, by extension, her writing family – you can find here at any of the following links:

http://www.twitter.com/ruanna3

http://www.yearningforwonderland.com/

 

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