January 7, 2013 by Nathaniel Tower
Last year, the two-man staff at Bartleby Snopes, overwhelmed by an increase in submissions and a seeming compression in the overall time offered in a day, “hired” two new assistant editors. Justin Lawrence Daugherty and Cortney Phillips have done a fabulous job for us so far. Their time and efforts remind me of the fact that most of us in the writing community are doing this for each other as much as we’re doing it for ourselves. Why does the Bartleby Snopes staff spend more than twenty hours a week reading submissions, sending emails, updating the website, and editing stories for absolutely no monetary pay? Because we know it makes the writing community better.
We’re not conceited (or naïve) enough to think we’re changing the world. The world of writing has changed plenty since Bartleby Snopes launched in 2008. Very little, if any, of that change is due to us. Still, I know we’re doing something good for the writing community, and the writing community is doing something good for the four of us.
As managing editor of Bartleby Snopes, I’ve had the great fortune to “meet” hundreds of other editors and writers who, much like myself, spend as many waking hours as possible improving our craft. But we have to do more than write. We have to promote, share, discuss, edit, etc. And we don’t just do that to our own work. We do it for others.
Working as a member of the Bartleby Snopes team has made me appreciate many things. It’s changed the way I write and the way I read. It’s changed the way I communicate with others. It’s made me realize that this whole writing thing is about more than the words we type on our computers.
It’s really about connecting with others.
A week or so ago, Cortney was a bridesmaid in a wedding. At the wedding, a man came up to her and asked if she was Cortney Phillips from Bartleby Snopes. No, it wasn’t some stalkerish pick-up attempt. The individual was a past contributor of the magazine (his brilliant “Ted” was one of the stories we thought about nominating for a Pushcart Prize). Although the meeting was relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of Cortney’s life, it was one of those reaffirming moments that makes us realize the things we do have some impact.
Sure, sometimes writers are egotistical morons. Sometimes they try to sabotage other people’s work. Sometimes they post profane rants about the idiocy of an editor. But most of us are mainly interested in sharing a passion that brings us together. That’s why so many of us do these things for no pay. We want to help each other become the best writers we can be. Faced with writer’s block and piles of rejection slips, we all need at least a little help.
On a more personal note, I want to give a special thank you to Gill Hoffs. I’ve never met Gill in person, but we’ve become good friends over the past few months. She’s been kind enough to give me advice on setting up this blog. Without her help, it would be chaotic and ugly. What did I ever do for her that made her take the time to explore the site and give helpful advice? I know I’ve read some of her work (she’s a great writer, by the way), but I’ve never done anything exceptional for her. This is just another fine example of writers building community. We take the time to help each other because we know that helping each other helps the craft as a whole.
There are many other fellow writers I could thank as well. So if you’ve ever done anything for me (read any of my stuff, written any reviews, bought any copies of my work, provided any feedback, clicked on a link I posted, looked at this blog, etc.), then thank you for being a part of the great community of writers.
Please take a moment to share your own personal story about the writing community in the comments section.