LikeWise began in January of this year, as a search for online venues that connect teen artists, writers and readers with like-minded souls. For my final post of 2015, I'm reviewing what I found.
The most impressive sites were created by fans of authors John Green and J.K Rowling. Nerdfighters and The Harry Potter Alliance connect readers like never before. They've built a legion of reader activists who use their love of story to fuel positive changes, like sending a plane load of supplies to hurricane survivors, forcing corporate giants to practice fair trade, and battling ogres who threaten net neutrality. The Nerdfighters site offers seemingly endless opportunities to connect with all creative types. And The Harry Potter Alliance continues to reach out to the reader community. Next March, they'll present The Granger Leadership Academy, where teams will help attendees develop hero skills. So readers, if you haven't checked them out, what are you waiting for?
Sites for writers and visual artists are harder to find. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is by far the most notable. It offers young novelists support and a discussion forum. Since the focus is on penning an entire novel in November, I'm not sure how long the connections and support last beyond that month. But it's certainly a place to meet teen writers and those relationships could grow beyond the event. For artists, The Art Assignment is a a fun, interactive project hosted by John Green's wife, Sarah. Guest artists present challenges and creative fans post their results on YouTube. It's ongoing, so you can participate when time allows and when it doesn't, pop in to keep up with the projects of your new online friends.
In August, I presented a Plethora of Artistic Links, including contests and opportunities to submit writing and art for publication. When I couldn't find more venues for artists and writers to connect, I drifted toward sites for creative minds: The Maker Movement, inventors, young and old, using technology to fabricate wondrous things; Imagination Foundation, collaborators who create with cardboard, and TED, the place to view and hear people with big ideas. They're fascinating places that feed the mind and fuel creativity.
To be sure, I'm not the most experienced researcher, or the most patient. While fantastic websites may have escaped my feeble fingers, I was thrilled to find an abundance of regional programs, many of them offered through libraries and museums. Nothing beats physical connections. What's important is finding people you trust to share your work with. Whether it's in person or online, I wish you rewarding relationships in 2016.
This time of year life seems to speed up. There are so many scribbles on the calendar, it's hard to keep track, and 2016 urges our brains to charge ahead. Between festivities, gift-giving and gatherings, we creatives struggle to balance work and play.
If you have a project due, like a book publishers are waiting on, you're probably huddled in a hidey hole, curtains drawn, ears stuffed with cotton and a towel crammed under the door to drown out holiday music and the smell of baking cookies. You finish a day's worth of edits and crawl out of your cave, then dress for the party you wouldn't dare miss, if only your head wasn't filled with plot. But as your significant other shows off his eye-popping Christmas sweater, your brain sneaks back to story. And there it is, the perfect twist for that boring scene you couldn't figure out! Your fingers itch to type. You can't wait to get home to your computer. But
. . . you glance at your beloved, now singing off-key carols with friends and family.
They laugh and roll their eyes at your unfocused look. But they get it. They understand the creative process commandeers our brains, and they love us anyway. So you stay at the party. Life is not all about art, even when there are deadlines. And tomorrow, bright and early, it's you and the cave and the book.
If you DON'T have a publisher breathing over your shoulder, set your work aside and enjoy the holidays. Creativity needs down time. It's fueled by the life we engage in, including manic shopping with strangers wearing bells and blinking sweaters, and making a mess of your kitchen with people you love. January 2nd, when the confetti is swept aside and a new year stretches before us, we'll pull up our story files, set a canvas on the easel and create.
Whatever holiday you celebrate, focus on love. It flows more freely this time of year, so open your heart, give and receive, store the good feelings to fuel your next year.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. And creatures, always creatures. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor