• Julie Luek
  • [MAKING THE LEAP] It's All About the Community
[MAKING THE LEAP] It's All About the Community
Written by
Julie Luek
January 2013
Written by
Julie Luek
January 2013

The town I live in is small--in population and actual size. A grocery outing is like the TV show Cheers: everyone knows your name, like it or not.  One night each year during the holiday season, the town shuts down its main streets, sets up barricades manned by police cars with cheerfully flashing lights, and a huge tree, decorated by the elementary school children, is hauled in and set up right in the middle of one of the roads. There are lighted displays all up and down the street with pit fires burning brightly in the road so kids can roast marshmallows. The boutiques stay open late and serve hot cocoa and cider while people walk up and down the street, shivering in the chill and greeting each other warmly. It’s a real life Whoville celebration if ever there was one.

In a small town, no one is a stranger, unless, well, you really are a stranger. Whether it be in a church pew, the aisle of a grocery store or PTA involvement, we get to know each other. Once, on his way into school, my son’s car broke down. He putted and stuttered along frontage roads trying to make his way to the college where I worked so he could leave the car, and I could take him to school.  By the time I got to work—and it's only about a 15-minute commute—I had three calls waiting for me on my work phone asking if my son was all right.  People had seen his limping car and were concerned. One of the calls was from the wife of a local police officer. That evening, I reminded my son this ought to be a lesson for him: never try to get away with anything. I will know.

We are more than just a small town. We are a community--united by proximity, bonded by commonality and a sense of belonging.


The Writing Community


The writing community is a bit like my little town. The first week I wrote an article for She Writes, one of the members, Rebecca Forster, left a comment encouraging, “reach up for your dream but reach down to help someone climb.” That’s really what it’s all about, isn't it?  We are a community. 


In a profession that is rife with competition and where the economics of the supply and demand curve definitely weigh heavily in favor of supply, I have found writers to be extraordinarily supportive of each other.


After all, only another writer understands…


  • staring at a computer for hours, trying to lasso words into meaningful and artful sentences.
  • the stomach-clenching pressure of the simple question, “so what have you published lately?”
  • how incredibly satisfying an acceptance for an article, short story or book is—money or not.
  • how our heart sings when someone tells us, your words really spoke to me.
  • the sheer joy when the muse whispers and sentences follow each other until a creation is born.
  • why when people tell us once we sell a book our money worries will be over, we laugh.


Sites like She Writes help facilitate the community of support. I can’t imagine having to take the leap without the encouragement of writers like you.  


Some of us are farther along the path, published and seasoned in the world of words. Others of us are new, just starting out, with barely enough faith to believe in our own gifts. Let’s remember Rebecca’s words and as we climb for our own dreams, pause to reach a hand out to help someone else along the path.


I will make this commitment to you: if you add me as a friend, jot me a note or leave me a comment, I will personally respond. I will be a venting ground for your insecurities if you need it or a one-gal cheering squad for your triumphs and successes. I will read your posts and respond to your tweets. Let’s make 2013 the best yet at She Writes. Let’s reach beyond competition, jealousy or insecurity and be the community that helps each other along generously and freely. Because together, we can and we will…


Keep writing,



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  • Julie Luek

    Hi Jenny-- what a warm response. Thank you. I love small communities, even have a blog kind of dedicated to the warmth of small-town living, but the isolation can get lonely. Writing is a unique pursuit. I love the concept of your blog and am going to visit it. What is your second novel about? Keep us posted on your progress!

  • Danyelle C. Overbo

    I really appreciate all the feedback.  It gives me a lot to think about, thank you so much for sharing!

  • Julie Luek

    Hi Olga, Ahhh yes, someone who truly gets where I was at. I'm so glad you shared! Like you, our lifestyle has taken a hit. We don't subscribe to pay TV or go out to eat much. There aren't a lot of leftovers for luxuries, but we made the decision together-- my husband and I-- with a budget fully in mind. The other piece that is scary is the lack of input into a retirement account now. I have a few sources, but they are somewhat limited. Good thoughts for Danyelle-- or any of us-- to think about.

  • Olga Godim

    Julie, I just read your post about leaving your job. The similarities are uncanny. I also left my job several years ago to pursue my writing. At the time, I was in a situation where I had to chose: either-or. My health wouldn't allow me to do both. And I'm not sorry, although financially I'm so much worse now than when I worked as a computer programmer. But inside my soul, I'm so much better, happier. I know how many agonizing hours of doubts go into such a decision, how hard it's to step onto that invisible bridge which leads, for all you know at the moment, to nowhere. My deep bow to your courage.

    Danielle, my look at the situation: think hard before you jump. For some people, it takes 5 to 10 years to start making money with their writing. Perhaps you can do both for a while, write in your free time. Or perhaps you can lighten your load at work (part-time or something) to get more time for writing. Unless you have a solution to your finances - an inheritance, a husband providing income, a lottery winning - don't quit your job. Most writers do both: work for a living and write in their free time. It's not easy to find a writing job that pays well or at all.

  • Julie Luek

    Hi Danyelle, I just left you a note, but my first post with Making the Leap was all about that scary jump into the unknown, leaving my steady and good career to pursue this unstable and non-lucrative career (at this point anyway) of writing. If you need the support, drop me a line. I'll gladly share my experience and what I've learned up to this point. 

  • Danyelle C. Overbo

    I spend a chunk of time yesterday writing a blog post asking for advice on taking the leap, but never posted it.  I'm afraid it will show up in a general search and my current employer could find out.  You see, its all about needing advice on taking the leap if you currently have a good job.  Maybe commenting on this post is safer.  I am not sure.  But I desperately need advice from people who really know what I am going through.  Also, sidenote, would I just post it on the my blog section of the site?  Is that all you need to put something out there like Julie above?

  • Wendi Nitschmann

    Thanks Julie, I'll definitely visit your blog and try there!

  • Julie Luek

    Good luck, Karen. That's kind of where I'm at too.

  • Karen Dawkins

    Thanks, Julie. No WIP for me.... I'm merely a blog in progress! Hoping for some paid articles soon. :)

  • Julie Luek

    Karen, I'm so glad you asked that. The first time I heard all this initial-speak, I was so confused! I finally figured out a few, but I swear there are new ones popping up I still don't know.  WIP= Work In Progress, referring to any book or manuscript (MS) you might be working on. :) Yay for a kindred spirit!

  • Karen Dawkins

    What's a WIP?

  • Julie Luek

    Hi Wendi-- glad you put a post here. I don't have a WIP to participate with at the moment. I'm kind of in a change point with my writing. However, I'm involved with a fairly active writing group if you want to check out my blog and maybe start following a few folks there-- you might get a few people who really are needing this kind of promotion for their work.  All the best to you!

  • Wendi Nitschmann

    Okay community... Looking for someone to tag in The Next Big Thing blog hop - answer some questions about your current WIP. You have until the 23rd to post to your blog. Help me keep the chain going!

  • Kathy Brunner

    What a kind offer, Julie. I think every writer recognizes the need for community at various stages of their writing. It's great to be able to bounce ideas and concerns off of fellow writers. Good to get to know you and I hope you will hop on over to my online community which I just started, for individuals who want to make their passion, happen. Thanks for your support. Hope to connect further.

  • Julie Luek

    Lori-- Thanks for the comment and support. The responses have been so affirming of what we're doing here.

    Suzi- Cheers. I agree!

    Jessica--I can kind of relate, although maybe from not so far away, but I live in a wee little isolated town in the mountains.  It can be hard to find others who don't think I'm crazy...for pursuing writing, of course. ;)

    Amanda- Oh me too Amanda.  Still am trying to find my own special voice. Keep me posted how and what you're working on.

  • Amanda Trought

    Glad to be part of the community....Just really starting out, trying to strengthen my wings, dipping my toe in every now and then

  • Jessica L. Weiss

    Thank you so much for this! I love the sentiment and welcome your openness and desire to connect. I live in South America, far from home and a writing community, so especially welcome the chance to connect with fellow women writers online. One of my writing resolutions for 2013 is to connect with people who validate my path -- and ideally help bring more clarity and/or support. I couldn't think of a better way ;)

  • Suzi Minor

    Thanks Julie glad to be a part of your community! Here's to a wonderful world of words in 2013!

  • Lori Romero

    What a lovely article, Julie, and an important reminder of community! I love the part "the community that helps each other along generously and freely"...so necessary! Thank you for sharing this! Lori

  • Julie Luek

    Hi Kerry-- glad you feel supported! The comments have been amazing, if you have a chance to read through them. After working at an institution for so many years where the feedback was frequent (like it or not), writing in isolation was a tough adjustment for me.

  • Kerry Ann Morgan

    I live in a nameless, faceless suburb. Often, when I emerge from my writing cloud and search online for someone who understands why it can take a half-hour to fix one sentence or why I'm not a best-selling author yet, I still feel as if I'm wandering alone through the woods. Thank you for the reminder: that others are out there, and that I must visit SheWrites more.

    This was just what I needed to read this morning. Thank you.

  • Julie Luek

    Jill-- I love the sound of your book and am going to check out your link. Thanks. 

  • Jill Zima Borski

    I mention a few small towns in my memoir, Know that I have Lived, self-published in early Nov. via Amazon's CreateSpace. I wrote about being a political action committee canvasser in northern Indiana and how going door to door throughout these towns with their distinct community centers in historic downtowns enchanted me and scared me because I sensed the best times in those communities had already been... threatened by the outlying chain stores, etc. I also see in an earlier post the locale of Western Mass. and the Berkshires, where I attended first through seventh grades, and the early part of my memoir in essays is all about growing up there and the good times and bad. Significantly, I write about "scooping up treasure" in a stream where a dirty old rag or wadded up newspaper isn't what it seems. Anyway, thanks for the uplift and the "connections" today! www.jill-zima-borski.com

  • Julie Luek

    Wendi and Amy-- Jump on board and let's dialogue. It helps keep me focused and encouraged as well.

    Hi Karen-- I will definitely look you up on all the networks-- thanks for sharing!

    Nikki-- I agree; reading the comments has been so uplifting!

    Suzi-- wow very cool that your effort to serve a hurting community lead to such NPR. That's wonderful and I bet oh so encouraging. Thanks for sharing all your posts! I hope others pick up on them too.

    Linda- Isn't funny how even in a small town you can be isolated? Especially, I guess, if the area is so spread out. I can see that. Drop me a note, when time allows-- what kind of writing do you do?

    Karen-- What a great idea. A friend of mine invited me to our community's business woman Christmas get-together and I made great contacts while there! 

  • Julie Luek

    Tracey- I'm sure you often see, first hand from your line of work what a difference support and encouragement can make in a person's life. And you're right-- it is, at it's root, simple.