We interrupt this contest . . .

. . . to take a moment to talk about the value of the writing community.

Writing is a solitary venture. We sit at our desks, in our rooms, in the attic or under the stars, alone, and pour ourselves onto blank paper. And, in isolation our dreams and inspirations come to life and eventually we shove them out the door into the wide open world where people either welcome them or throw tomatoes at them. (Or they die of neglect because nobody actually noticed.)

But between the first part and the last part comes the writing community. These are our friends, our beta readers, our crit partners. These are the people who know about writing and literature, who have a good ear and, most importantly, the courage to be honest with us about our writing.

And they not only critique us but they champion us. They root for us when we are discouraged or lonely or frightened. Some days we need to borrow their courage and confidence because ours has left us temporarily. (Never doubt that writing does take courage.)

A good writer is a solo practitioner. A great writer is the leader of his or her writing “team”—a team composed of those who sacrifice their time and donate their talents to tell us where we’ve strayed from the best path of our writing.

That’s part of the reason we at The Lascaux Review put blood, sweat and (sometimes) tears into Lascaux Flash. We want to create a community where all of us can come together and open these small windows into our imagination, into ourselves and reveal a tiny bit of wonder. We encourage the comments for many reasons... 1) so we can become better at this craft of writing, and 2) create an atmosphere where it’s easy to make like-minded friends and meet new writers. (And, yes, 3) have fun!)

I read every single comment that comes in on this contest. They all come flurrying into my mailbox and I read them throughout the day. I notice you. I notice the time you take to read and comment. I notice when you are thoughtful, constructive, encouraging. I notice and I am inspired by you. Because you get it. You get what it means to be a writer and support your community.

And we want to support you. We have big plans for The Lascaux Review and for this flash fiction contest (and future competitions), but we want you to feel like you’re a part of making it happen. You already are, but we’d love for you to be as much a part of it as you want to be. So, keep engaging each other and engage us, too.

Tell us what you need. What you want. We’re here. We’re listening.

—Wendy Russ

25 comments:

Paul said...

I'm always struck by how lonely it must have been as a writer in the times before the internet.

Great post Wendy and kudos to you all for your vision.

Peter said...

Remove the Captcha, it's a serious barrier to commenting. I've given up many times because of it, so I'm sure many others have as well. I don't know if i can get past it and post THIS comment...

Brandi Haile said...

I only discovered Lascaux Flash...less than 2 weeks ago. So far, I have found the community to be WAY better than that of a couple of others I will not mention by name.

Peter, if you think Wendy should get rid of the Captcha, do you have any ideas what she should do instead? I think the purpose is to keep spam away which will also hinder good communication. I don't know enough about it to have any good suggestions. I haven't had any trouble with it here, although I have had problems with it on craigslist & other places that use it.

Wendy said...

Yes, the purpose of the captcha is to reduce the amount of spam we get. We left it open for a while until it became too overwhelming.

The other option is to turn off anonymous commenting but we felt like some people use that because they either don't want to log in to their Blogger account, or don't have one, or just want to comment anonymously for whatever reason.

We would love some suggestions about how to handle the spam issue if there is one. (On our base site www.lascauxreview.com we have some spam tools which are useful. Blogger seems to not be as robust with its spam fighting features.)

I find the captcha annoying myself, so I do apologize. It's definitely not our first choice!

Wendy said...

Paul, thank you. I think the Internet has been a great gift for writers!

Brandi, we're so glad to have you!

JRVogt said...

Thanks for what you've done so far with this community and contest. It's been a great way to connect with others and I can't wait to see how it grows and evolves.

Stephen Parrish said...

I'll add to what Wendy said about Captcha, since I'm the guy who turned the thing on.

I detest it. Often I can't read the characters at all, and often I'm wrong when I think I've read them correctly. It can be very frustrating.

We had a successful first run with this contest in 2012. When we turned comments back on, as the 2013 contest approached, we were hit by spam. At the rate of dozens per hour. I agree with Wendy that we should allow anonymous comments, for a variety of reasons. Captcha was the only alternative.

We experimented by turning Captcha off to see if the spammers had given up and skipped off to pester someone else. After a few days the breathtaking volume was back, and growing.

I'm sorry for the inconvenience. As Wendy said, we're open to suggestion.

Peter said...

Understood, but the serious lack of apparent comments on all stories indicates a problem - and the Captcha may well be the culprit.

Anon comments, btw, are valueless. I disregard ANY comment from someone who will not take authorship for their words. Forget them.

A more acceptable commenting system for me would be via a once-only verifiable registration/log-in email that then also provided auto-notification of subsequent replies. People could then quickly and easily post comments without irritation.

As a footnote, the Captcha words for this comment are unreadable, so I'll probably have to suffer several retries posting this. It absolutely deters me from commenting. This will be my last. So, in parting, well done on the comp. fantastic amount of seriously good entries, I only hope these talented writers don't feel too disappointed by the lack of feedback. After all, 98% are not going to get awards, so the feedback is all they'll have...

Peter said...

Ok it went through on my second attempt and you see how much it so annoyed me? I didn't notice it was working! lol

Wendy said...

Ha, Peter, but you made it REALLY CLEAR what you meant. LOL.

I'm going to google around to see if there are any good alternatives to the problem. So I do appreciate the feedback.

Merry Monteleone said...

I love the community feel that's springing up around these contests... so many of us had that on a regular basis through blogging, and it's been missed since so many bloggers took to other online venues.

Peter, I totally get what you're saying, but I think there are a lot of valuable Anon comments made by those who don't have google / blogger accounts and can't find another way to sign in. I've done it myself when I accidentally forgot my password and couldn't log in...

strugglingwriter said...

Wendy, don't kill yourself over one person's (very vocal :) ) opinion, though.

Jennifer S. Morris said...

I am really new to this site, and I nearly wept reading Wendy's words because they felt so right on! I write. Can I call myself a writer? I've written two books. A historical novel and a medical mystery. I'm revising the historical novel, my passion, yet again, to be ready for a writers conference in Sept. Harper's looked at the book and didn't tell me to stop writing, they said 'find an agent'. The last book conference I went to left me feeling jangled, harrassed, unfit, overwhelmed, and seriously depressed. I stopped writing for a long time. I suppose it was good for me to step back, and take a deep breath. Thanks for being here Lascaux Flash!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post. Totally agree about the value of community. Unless we're fortunate enough to be surrounded by flesh and blood people with the same addiction [writing], this gig can get very lonely. Frustrating, too. We all need occasional strokes. Sometimes a good slap across the head. Most times a little empathy and/or guidance that only another writer can provide. And personally? I've found other writers very generous.

Misery [and those blips of success] love company :0).

Enjoyed the read.

Btw, I didn't realize these wavy letters+numbers were referred to as CAPTCHA. Obviously, I'm not swift with the tech stuff. I usually sign in as Anon on blogger sites and sign my post because invariably I'm denied access. Not sure why. I've tried registering with Google but I'm always spit out for errors or they claim I'm not who I say I am. I've given up. I'm going to try the OpenID tonight, see if it takes the post.

But just in case . . .

P. Frey

PS: Nope. Wouldn't take my Wordpress ID. The only one that's worked in the past is a Microsoft ID. So I am forever Anon.

Wendy said...

Josh, I think you've managed to comment on just about every post out there. This might be a record!

Merry, you are right. Blogging and blog-hopping used to be such a rich activity and now I refer to it as "the good old days." We need more of this! Thanks for hanging out and adding to the mix!

Couple other points about anonymous commenting -- I have noticed that quite a few people use it and then post their names at the bottom. So, anonymous, but not. Honestly, I must admit to some laziness on my part. Sometimes I use the "Name/URL" thing because I don't feel like logging in or I'm logged into another account (I have my personal account and also a Lascaux "official" account.) There are legitimate uses for that feature beyond something negative.

Wendy said...

Jennifer, if it is your passion, don't give up. Just like in all circles of people there is prejudice and snobbery. The whole "genre" argument, for example. I loved Sean Ferrell's piece that we posted as one of the writer "tips" because it addresses an underlying thread that disappoints me -- literary vs. commercial fiction.

Writing is the paradox of solitary/not-solitary. You do it alone but we also have to submit our work to others before we can call it done. But I think the benefit of the "solitary" part is that we step back from these other conversations and find the true thread of our own writing passion and follow that. If it gets too noisy out there for you, pull back and regroup with yourself in private. Figure out who your writing self is and ignore the noise. And then hold on to that core as best you can when you're out sharing your work.

And hang out with the cool peeps who read Lascaux Flash. :)

peterdomican said...

Another Pete but I hate captcha. It's not a problem with typing in a word but it's just too difficult to read. It's taking me 4-5 goes to get something that is legible.

Amara Royce said...

I loved the last Lascaux Flash contest and would love to be a more active part of this one, but it just happens to be bad timing.

The community of writers here (and at Lascaux Review) is amazing and valuable.

As for Captcha, frankly, so many sites use it that I don't even blink. I think it's fine and, given spam/robot abuses, warranted.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I have found some amazing writing friends who I have yet to meet. I love the community online that develops from these types of contests.

The Captcha is a pain, but I'm good with dealing with it to keep out the spam. One nice aspect of doing this on the iPad is I can enlarge it to the point where it's easier to read. Bad aspect is that autocorrect that tries to make a word out of nonsense. ;-)

Shona Snowden said...

There are different forms of verification, this one I find particularly difficult to read and it often takes me a few tries. I'm only commenting on stories that particularly strike me, partly because it does take me a few tries to get the verification through.

Would it be possible to keep the principal, but swap the Captcha for one that is less difficult to read?

Loving that I'm seeing so many familiar people around here, and meeting some new ones :-)

Shona Snowden said...

principle, principle, principle

Sarah Laurenson said...

Is Wendy the Principal and Steve the School Marm? LOL

lisafobia said...

Thank you for this fun and interesting opportunity to connect with your cool writing community.

I am learning a lot about flash fiction, writer's blogs and ugly Captcha.

It sure is a great feeling when somebody out there likes your story and leaves a comment. I will definitely participate again next year!

Keep up the good job and please send more good karma...
It is badly needed these days!

Jennifer S. Morris said...

Paul, Just think before the net maybe we'd have met each other in Paris. Writing and hobnobbing with other creative creatures.

conboyhillfiction said...

The captcha thing seems to be a blogger problem as I've seen it elsewhere in a less complex form and with more goodwill towards a WordPress ID! This version has many more characters to identify and so many more chances for error, and for a long time, it has routinely denied that I have any right to my WordPress identity. For now, it is behaving itself though [famous last words, hits send...]