By Marilyn L. Davis
“Literature does not occur in a vacuum. It cannot be a monologue. It has to be a conversation, and new people, new readers, need to be brought into the conversation too.” ― Neil Gaiman, The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction
Two Drops of Ink is for, about, and written by writers. Without a clear definition of purpose, Scott, Lydia, Michelle, John, and all of our contributors would just post random musings and call it a day. We would still get views as each of us has a following. However, that’s not our purpose or mission.
I want to extend an invitation for 2017. I’d like you to also consider submitting a guest post.
How do I know you’d be a fit for Two Drops of Ink? Because you’re reading this post, and that means that you have an interest in, or create literary pieces. Some of you are:
- A grammar guru
- An author who would like another site for a book review
- Looking for a site to share the opportunities and responsibilities of a blog
- Storytellers that create an exceptional memoir
- Tired of going it alone
- Well-versed and can produce a post about a specific category of literature
- Write well, but have never tried submitting your work to a site, magazine, blog, etc.
I understand that being solely responsible for a blog can get discouraging. When you write online, it can feel as isolating as the actual writing. You post and wonder:
- Who will read this?
- Where do I share this to get exposure?
- Has this been written and I just missed it?
- Does anybody care what I think or feel about this subject?
- Am I the only one who is interested?
It’s lonely doing it all.
So we’re back to why collaborative writing makes sense. Four years ago, Scott and I would meet for coffee and talk about my retirement from the recovery home and what I might do with all the writing I’d done for it. Months later, my recovery curriculum was formatted and used in a few houses, and I discovered that I wanted to try my hand at writing about writing. I finally got up the nerve to ask Scott if I could write a post for Two Drops of Ink. He was involved in school, worked most weekends, and wasn’t producing much for the site, so he agreed.
I discovered that I genuinely liked writing about writing. Scott encouraged me, and we started getting views and gaining followers on Blogspot. But followers and people who comment also meant that we had to produce quality posts to keep them interested and engaged. By then, I’d taken a full-time position as a counselor, and we weren’t certain how to juggle jobs and writing.
Then we’d labor over numbers. We’d see a spike on days that we published a new post. But neither of us, at that time, could produce three posts a week. We’d create a call-to-action and invite other writers to participate.
Sometimes it was chirping crickets – no comments or submissions. We both felt frustrated and wondered if maybe we weren’t finding the right readers with our respective writing, or didn’t have the clout to attract other writers, or were simply not posting the invitation to the right groups or social media.
But we persevered. Sometimes, it was just Scott and I believing that we could write posts that had merit, and coach each other on how to improve. Other days, it was those loyal followers who read and commented that kept us going. While not expecting accolades, when we would get compliments, we appreciated them and thanked people for commenting. We still do.
When we moved to WordPress, we knew we wanted a community of writers. Since it still felt lonely on some days, we made a commitment to be welcoming to the readers by engaging in conversations via the comments. I knew that some of those who commented were writers who hadn’t published. It was apparent in their choice of words in the comment, or I’d look them up by their Gravatar and see that they had a blog themselves. I invited them to submit, and the offer was sincere so they could gain exposure, but there was also the self-serving motive; an excellent guest submission took writing pressure off Scott and me.
However, it wasn’t just the writer, Scott, or me that benefited from guest contributors; it was the reader who gained as well.
With more writers, our readers were given a better variety of styles, tones, and voices to choose from to satisfy their literary palate, and that also met my belief that how something is said is just as important as what is said; I knew that with more voices, we would reach more readers.
When we were selected as one of the 100 best writing sites for writers in 2016 by The Write Life, we took notice. Now we knew we had to continue to offer quality posts and find ways to encourage other writers to submit. I’ve talked about my poet envy – unfortunately all of mine sound like roses are red without the contrasting violets are blue, so I was excited when we started getting poetry submissions. As a published poet, Scott knew the subtle differences in poetry, I just knew that I liked those that we eventually published. What surprised me was the quality. We were attracting nationally known poets to our little site. I don’t care who you are, when you get published by others, that’s an accomplishment. And I was proud that we were able to fulfill our commitment to publishing a variety of genres.
In the fall of 2016, we had enough poetry to create a separate page, The Wall of Poets.
While I understood the cathartic value of reflective writing from my recovery work, I thought I needed more information and education about memoir while I wrote mine. I wanted to learn the subtle nuances of that genre to improve my writing. I could find posts written from the broad perspective but decided that I’d tackle some particular aspects in depth and created multiple posts about specific aspects of memoir. These were received well, and we realized from comments that quite a few people had stories to tell. We encouraged them to submit short memoir pieces.
One way that we found to attract guest contributors was to issue a challenge. Working off the idea of memoir, we started having contests for memoir prompts. We were pleased that so many writers gave us entertaining, poignant, and heartwarming memoir pieces.
Now we were getting that community of writers. And we valued each published contribution.
The images for posts became my domain. My mother was a fabric artist, and my sister had a design firm, so I’ve always been frustrated that I didn’t have their talents. However, I’ve been told that I can create pictures with words, so I’ll settle for that. Scott and I knew that images prompted writers, so we set up challenges that incorporated memoir and images. Another round of excellent submissions finished out the year.
In 2016, we’ve grown as writers and editors, and we could not have done this without the encouragement and positive responses from our readers, as well as inviting them to submit. Many of those readers are now contributing writers at Two Drops of Ink. But ours is not an exclusive club, nor are we selling anything.
For 2017, we want to continue growing, improving, and sharing literary pieces to a wider audience.
So, if you’re looking for a site that appreciates your efforts, values your expertise, and is willing to give you a chance, consider submitting.