As a bit of a traditionalist, I experience pangs of sorrow after what is considered “old” fades. Watching the former members of the post calvin provide their valedictions no less so. Now I emerge as the oldest writer present.
Looking back, it has been an unusual journey. I was there at the founding of the group—after all, the “Big Three” of the 2013 English department started it. No invitation was sent my way partly because the group was awash with 2013 graduates, and I was rather un-noteworthy.
Not that I would have accepted anyways. I sneered at this “place for writers to continue writing outside the structure of college.” Time wasn’t the issue here; clearly these individuals lacked discipline. I egressed college with nine hundred of my nine-hundred-and-eighty-three page handwritten novel completed. A blog was a waste of time.
My first post ever, in fact, was a mediocre satire criticizing blogs. It massively exceeded the word count, screamed “poor quality,” and gratified me more than it should. Why I even bothered to offer to write it I don’t fully have an answer. Something about this place captivated me.
I sporadically read posts. More often ideas came to me. “You should write about this if you wrote for the post calvin.” I kept offering to guest write over the years, kept storing ideas. When I finally applied for a full-time spot, I was rejected and had to try again.
Now that I’m here, no longer a guest, I am a little disappointed. The allure was still there, but something has soured. This space was not so much a gathering of writing and writers than a syzygy—writers and their offerings aligned for a time before moving into their own orbits, isolated, until the time to shuffle past recurred.
In this alone, our forebears failed us. The blog’s originators bade us “comment on each others’ posts, and reply to comments made on yours” then did not fulfill their stipulations, despite reading each post. Could they expect anyone to follow if they did not lead?
I can understand many reasons for not commenting. Busyness. Difficulty in finding the right thing to say or proper way to express it. Perhaps the piece didn’t resonate with the reader, rendering it easily dismissed. But in not responding, we neglect an important aspect of our lives here.
All writers know we exist for readers. Less evident stands the truth that we write for writers as well. None of us would have embarked on this path without another writer’s guidance. Their stories, either personal or emblazoned in text, inspiring us. We couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to put our own words, our own stories into the world.
Once, I was a part of a writer’s group. My first housemate shared the dream of writing. He convinced me to co-found a group. “The Destiny Incubators” he called us, even devising a mission statement: “We are all called to greatness. For some of us, that takes the form of writing. This is where greatness begins.”
He, a visionary, gathered some friends and handled the creative element of the group. I was left with administration. Initially, all went well. We shared our stories, commented and offered critiques. But time stretched us, breaking some. Writing, convening lost priority. All my attempted encouragement rebounded. “Let’s keep doing this,” they’d say, but never produce anything tangible.
Desperation drove me as I attempted to salvage my cherished group. “Iron sharpens iron”—I repeated another of our favorite sayings. But an ingot of iron left to itself weighs down. My efforts came to naught. We dispersed, leaving me with the brutal pain of seemingly loving something more than the others involved.
Too often writers feel secluded. We write, a solitary task, giving our thoughts to the world, wanting to be read, but not wanting to aggrandize ourselves. Initiating talks about our writing feels self-absorbed or overly aggressive. Silence, on both sides, produces doubt.
To the reader, a writer unwilling to speak about his writing appears unconfident. More often writers are attempting to sensitively handle a reader’s autonomy. Forcing an issue seldom ends well.
To the writer, a silent reader instills a fear that we haven’t said anything meaningful. That in turn reflects poorly on our view of our work. A horrid cycle forms, creating less confident writers who produce less for readers to enjoy. A simple problem that can be solved if readers shared their thoughts about a writer’s work.
Honestly, it is work to comment on peoples’ posts. Some days I don’t want to. There are some writers whose content I have zero interest in ninety percent of the time. I comment and encourage them anyway because not every piece is written for me, and this writing mattered enough for its writer to share it.
The writer has offered a piece of themselves, no matter how small, no matter how mundane, and declared it theirs. Their vulnerability, their effort deserves a response. We don’t need to be told we’re brilliant or that our writing was the best ever. All we need is the affirmation that this thing we’re doing we can keep doing. That there is someone listening, someone watching, someone cheering us. That we and our craft matter, are worthy.
the post calvin can become such a place. We have twenty-eight official writers here. Currently, I don’t know if any of them read my pieces—a concern many others here probably share. If a post doesn’t appear in the vaunted “Top Ten Most Viewed” posts section, there’s no way to tell. However, if each person commented on everyone’s post, and got a response, that would be over fifty comments to a post (to say nothing of all the other readers who haunt the site).
Can you even imagine how awesome it would be to see fifty or more notifications on your piece that were more than a comment war but people engaging with you and your writing? Maybe get to know each other as people instead of “the person who posts on such and such a day”?
This is where greatness begins, should we choose it. The work we put into something now will determine the results we will receive. Don’t worry overmuch of the content or quality of your comments. If something speaks to you, speak to that; if something catches your fancy, illuminate it; if something moves you, return that emotion; if you can make better, suggest.
And writers, be gracious to those who do take the time and effort. This symbiotic relationship requires interaction for maximum benefit.
That’s the place I want this to be. That’s the legacy I want to leave when my time irrevocably comes. Because I have realized what brought me here, then and again, was a longing for community.