|Day 3 of 31 at TWT!|
Some of them were absolute first-time bloggers whose nervous posts brought me right back to the jittery feeling of hovering my mouse over the "publish" button for the first time, way back in August of 2011. "YOU ARE AWESOME AND THE WORLD NEEDS YOUR AWESOME IDEAS!" I wanted to shout to them. (I toned it down and did not, in fact, actually shout in any of my comments to them. But I did say "So glad you wrote!" and "Glad you're here!" lots of times.)
Some of them had already been blogging but never sliced here, or never participated in the March challenge. "IT'S GOING TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE!" I wanted to shout to these bloggers. (I restrained myself again and told them instead how much they'd grow as writers, or how they'd learn to think like writers and capture small moments to treasure.)
Most of all, I wanted to absolutely screech to all of them, "MEET YOUR NEW FRIENDS! GET READY TO BE AFFIRMED!!!" (Instead, I found myself repeating variations of "incredible community" over and over.) Because more than anything else, it's the loving, encouraging community that Ruth and Stacey built so long ago that makes this challenge so exceptional. (It's driving me crazy that I can't find a better word for "community", but it's the only one that really fits!) I kept wanting to write "place" even though a group of strangers from around the world sending words through their computers is not a place. But that's exactly the thing: it feels like a place. It feels like local coffeeshops or bars must feel to people who like them. It feels like a neighborhood cookout or block party. It feels like sitting on your front porch or your back deck with a good friend and a glass of lemonade.
Why? Because the expectation of leaving comments for at least 3 other writers creates an instant network. Because so many veteran slicers have poured true love into those comments for years, celebrating craft moves while appreciating the heart of the message and strengthening connections over time.
Because once you've received a comment that slices straight into your heart, making you feel seen as a writer and a human, you can't wait to start leaving the same kinds of comments for others.
As I mentioned in my post on Monday, it would've been so much easier to skip this year. But the community made me want to come back. Especially this year, after everything that we've all been through.
Because as this song, which my church played at our first virtual service in March of last year, says:
"Love will hold us together,
make us a shelter to weather the storm,
and I'll be my brother's keeper
so the whole world will know that we're not alone..."
It was the perfect song choice for that first Sunday of separation and fear.
And it's the perfect song to capture the Slice of Life community. I wouldn't have kept blogging if nobody was responding to my posts. I wouldn't be the writer or teacher I am now if I hadn't kept blogging. The bloggers who first welcomed me are now my Facebook friends. We've been through so many significant moments in our lives together, even though we've never met in person. It really is love that holds us together, and I'm so excited for these new Slicers to know that they're not alone.