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.

14 Comments

  1. Geneva Langeland

    Thanks for the reminder that writing is an invitation to conversation, not a shout into the void. Personally, I have the post calvin bookmarked on my browser, and it’s part of my daily routine to read each and every post. It’s a pleasure to watch writers’ lives, perspectives, and circumstances shift and grow during their tenure with the blog.

    Reply
    • Kyric Koning

      Thank you for your support, Geneva. There is a lot of good here to cultivate and enjoy.

      Reply
  2. Will Montei

    Worthy criticism here. Hopefully you and the current team can make this vision come alive. I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts, Kyric, even when I’ve neglected to comment.

    Reply
    • Kyric Koning

      I do so out of care this time. We shall see. Ultimately it will be what everyone decides to do. I appreciate you, Will. I am certain others too could benefit from your perspective.

      Reply
  3. Cotter Koopman

    persistence in community is definitely admirable, especially in a time of increased isolation

    Reply
    • Kyric Koning

      Perhaps that is when it is most admirable. Thank you for meeting me here, Cotter.

      Reply
  4. Avatar

    Dang Kyric. The juxtaposition between your last post and this one is resounding in my mind.

    I always appreciate your often philosophical pieces and how you take on the big stuff, but I also love knowing that at least one person is going to respond to what I write. Thanks for calling us all to account.

    Reply
    • Kyric Koning

      Resounding in a good way? Lol. Thanks. My freshman philosophy professor tried really hard to sway my major, but I’ve always had a bit of a philosophical bent. You’ve got me for at least another year.

      Reply
  5. Avatar

    This is because I never responded to your comment asking what kind of anime I like, isn’t it?

    Reply
    • Kyric Koning

      Gasp! I’ve been outed! Now you see how petty I can really be! Hah.

      Nah, this has actually been weighing me down for a little bit, so I decided to write about it.

      (Of course, my previous question still stands…)

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Don’t worry, I’m not egotistical enough to think that my spurning a comment about anime could incite an entire blog post. (Either that or I don’t hang out on Reddit enough to think so.)

        But in response, since the Calvinist guilt is real: I say that my tastes in anime differ from yours, but only insomuch as they differ from the weeb canon–if you’ll pardon my phrasing–in general. And they usually differ more in what I don’t like than in what I do (i.e. I didn’t think KonoSuba was that funny, I stopped watching Fate Zero and Code Geass after season one, and I tend not to be a fan of things by KyoAni, even as I recognize that, in terms of technical craft, they’re at the top of the game).

        BUT your post wasn’t about 10 Anime Everyone Should Watch or the 10 Best Anime of All Time, so I really have no qualms about the shows you picked (and I really enjoy Steins;Gate and REALLY enjoy Brotherhood), long as you genuinely enjoyed them. It’s probably my librarian showing through, but enjoyment is a generally good enough reason to consume media (even if it shouldn’t be the only one), as long as the things you’re enjoying aren’t, you know, illegal or anything.

        Anyway. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.

        Reply
        • Kyric Koning

          Haha. I’ll have to come to these TED talks more often. Thanks for responding.

          I also try to stray from the anime most people find popular, but step in from time to time. Totally understand why you wouldn’t find KonoSuba funny or why you stopped watching Fate/Zero and Code Geass (not exactly happy endings in either, and the character death is real (though I guess I’m assuming what you disliked, which isn’t ideal)). Steins;Gate is a blast, as is Brotherhood. I didn’t want to force anyone to watch anything–that you even gave them a chance is enough for me.

          Definitely. Enjoyment really is the touchstone. And not everyone shares the same tastes. It’s fine (so long, as you say, legal). Doesn’t make them bad, necessarily.

          Reply
  6. Avatar

    You are humorously truthful when you point out that we may not always be interested in what someone else writes, but we can learn from another’s perspective on how they see the world. Writing, and conversely reading someone’s thoughts and ideas, is a conversation that grows both parties when shared. It is how community is developed. Way to call us out of isolation!

    Reply
  7. Avatar

    Your writings are worthy to read! I always enjoy taking time to read your post.keep on writing and keep on encouraging others, Kyrick!

    Reply

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