Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Be Full Of Others, Part Two

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In part one of “Be Full Of Others” I talked about how lucky I have been to have fallen into a great, supportive community of writers. Now I’d like to talk about ways to generate and promote your own community of writers.

Community is formed by being full of others. In every act, celebrate and promote the writers you love. Rejoice when you find a new talent that eclipses your own. When I came to Kingston I put up some posters at the library advertising a poetry circle. The idea was to have a small diverse group, open to writers of any level. In truth (and oh, my ego, I’m ashamed to admit it) I thought of the writing group as my kind of community service. I thought that maybe I could give back some of what Sheri Benning and other writers have given to me.

My writing group, instead, has given me much more than I ever could have anticipated and has made me grow as a writer. It’s also taught me that being able to champion someone else’s work is incredibly satisfying. Our profession tends to foster competition and jealousy. The best way to get around that is to get behind every talented writer who is just beginning and sing their praises to the rafters. You can’t help but be lifted when you are a part of their success (more on starting a writing group in the week to come).

So here are a couple of solid tips on how you can help to foster the writing community in your neck of the woods:

* Always read someone else’s work first at a reading. Choose someone the audience has likely never heard of before.

* Go to readings, even if you can’t afford to buy the books. Have a happy listening face.

* Pester your local library to fill their shelves with unknown Canadian writers
Start a writing group

* Go to a literary fest

* Start a book club. Read locally and invite the author for a talk

* Write a fan letter

* Become the self-proclaimed president of a writer’s fan club (I’m the president of the Jason Heroux Fan Club)

* Be grateful for new talent, be in awe of established talent, have faith in your own talent.

Do you have any tips on fostering a writing community? Send them in and we’ll make a comprehensive list together!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Sarah Tsiang

Sarah Tsiang is the author of A Flock of Shoes (Annick Press, 2010), Sweet Devilry (Oolichan Books, 2011), Dogs Don’t Eat Jam and Other Things Big Kids Know (Annick Press, 2011) and Warriors and Wailers: 100 Ancient Chinese Jobs You Might Have Relished or Reviled (Annick Press, 2012). Her latest picture book, Stone Hatchlings, will be released in fall, 2012.

Go to Sarah Tsiang’s Author Page