Yesterday's Powwow with Kamy Wicoff

Kamy Wicoff meets with Ashland writers at Noble Coffee Roasters

Kamy Wicoff meets with Ashland writers at Noble Coffee Roasters

Four Ashland-based writers came out yesterday morning (Sunday) to powwow with Kamy Wicoff, the founder of

Kamy has big ideas about the importance of women (and men) writers networking and is growing her site, which currently has 6,000 writers on it.

She said men are welcome to join, by the way, even though the site is primarily to support women writers.

Kamy with Virginia Morrel (far left), Deborah Zaslow, Anjie Reynold, and Jennifer Margulis

Kamy with Virginia Morrel (far left), Deborah Zaslow, Anjie Reynolds, and Jennifer Margulis

The idea is that we should not have to re-invent the wheel. When someone is looking for an agent, has a book to publicize, or is trying to tweak a book proposal, can serve as a place to get advice from other writers, referrals to agents and editors, and other information of all kind.

I think a lot of writers struggle with how much time to put into social networking and this was an issue that came up in our discussion with Kamy. Virginia Morell, who wrote a cover story for National Geographic about how animals think and is currently writing a book on the same topic, mentioned how Cormac McCarthy still uses a typewriter to do his work. He doesn’t have to worry about being distracted by the Internet.

As writers, we all need support. SheWrites seems like one excellent way to get it though I need to spend more time on the site than I have already in order to get more out of it. Face-to-face meetings with other writers (like the one we had yesterday), workshops, author readings, classes, and conferences are other ways to find your tribe.

Devorah Zaslow, a teacher, writer, and storyteller in Ashland, mentioned that there used to be a wonderful writers’ conference here, before my time. It makes sense for Ashland to be a mecca for writers: we’re surrounding by muse-inspiring mountains, we have a 9-month world class Shakespeare festival as well as lots of other local theater, and we are set up as a town that welcomes tourists.

I walked away from meeting Kamy feeling inspired, not only to do more in our small town but to make more connections with other writers, both on-line and off.

What on-line networking do you do as a writer? What about off-line (real life) networking? Which do you find more helpful?

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  1. I haven’t looked into SheWrites, but I hear more and more people talking about it. It is a hard call how much time to spend and whether or not to add ANOTHER social networking site to the To Do list.

  2. I must admit that online networking is taking up more and more of my writing time. Probably because 1)it’s an easy distraction when you want to claim writer’s block, 2)you don’t want to be left out of the loop (remember when we all thought blogs were a passing phase?), and 3)it is useful.

    Would you mind sharing more of your insights? Anything you’re going to do differently after having this discussion?

  3. What a great topic! I spend as much time networking as possible, both on and offline. Some weeks that means a couple of hours on Twitter and some weeks that means I get together in person with local writers. (I am in three different in-person writer networking groups.) Not only does networking help me feel less isolated, but it gets my brain working in a different way than reporting a story or crafting a blog post.

    I think SheWrites is into something because it seems to be the female writers who are most eager to network. My writers groups are almost 100% female, just by chance.

  4. I know what you mean, Melanie. I was skeptical of the whole on-line thing but now I’m on the bandwagon (except I haven’t conquered my fear of Twitter yet and I’m not on that) and I’m spending a lot of time with on-line networking when I could be 1) writing, 2) meeting people in person (which I really love) and 3) cleaning the house (let’s not go there).

    ReadyMom, since we just met yesterday I’m not that sure what the take home message is. However, I just posted a blog–my first ever–on SheWrites and I know the site has inspired me to support women writers more and buy more of their books. There are some amazing people on that site.

    The women who gathered at Noble Coffee (best cup o’ Joe in town if you ever come to Ashland) were all thinking that we would start getting together, maybe once a month, just to talk. I have a writing group here (only one, unlike Katherine) but I know that I need more in-person facetime…

  5. I just blogged about this meeting, too! I gushed a bit about the writerly support I felt in that meeting, and how it correlates to what offers:

    “…as Jennifer went around the table and introduced everybody [and their major accopmlishments], ending finally with me and my small accomplishments and novel-in-progress, I somehow still felt like I was part of the big picture.

    There’s a kind of big picture kindness and respect that comes from good writers. They’re the ones who respect the process, the stages, the hard work, and the successes of any writer at any level. I definitely felt that respect and kindness yesterday as talk around the table shifted to different experiences and issues from each of us. Admittedly, I was the one playing the newbie card, but it was okay because they’d all been there.

    But that’s the point of, and that’s the feeling I got from these other writers: at some point We’ve all been there. We’ve been at some spot, and possess information or advice or ideas that are valuable to share. And that’s the purpose of a community of writers.”

    As for answering the question at the end of your blog, online networking seems to go hand-in-hand with face-to-face networking. That’s how yesterday’s meeting was arranged. Perhaps a simple answer is to find a balance between them?

    I also like the idea of Ashland being more of a writer’s hub.

  6. Sheryl

    I have heard of SheWrites but was never really clear on what it is used for. And then, I figured if I cannot even spare the time to find out, how will I ever spare the time to actually participate??

    But I must admit that networking and getting together with other writers is a wonderful thing to do; the limited times that I do manage to do it makes me wonder why in the world I don’t do it more frequently.

  7. I find a lot of inspiration and support in the online group I already belong to. Early on, I joined a local writing group, but it brought no networking to speak of and little satisfaction. I also worked as editorial and personal assistant for two successful writers, Barbara Chase-Riboud and Marge Piercy. The experience taught me a lot about the industry but neither writer was interested in my career. No, scratch that. Barbara did give me some worthwhile advice. I’m afraid SheWrites would add another layer to my already busy life. What exactly is the benefit? Could you spell that out a bit more clearly, Jennifer? Thanks!

  8. Thanks for informing me about this site. I didn’t know about it, and it sounds really cool.

    As for networking, when I have time, i spend the time doing it–because I enjoy it and not because I feel I have to do it. When I have a deadline coming up, I usually back off on the networking. The beauty of the internet is that few people seem to notice, although it is heart warming when someone does notice and messages me asking where I’ve been.

  9. Wow, what a wonderful comment thread! And such helpful feedback about 1) how overwhelmed writers feel already, and the resistance to taking on any new networks/websites/obligations; and 2) the power we all recognize in sharing our knowledge and supporting each other. I loved so many things about our coffee in Ashland — the fact that each woman at the table was at a different stage of her writing life, but still had so much to give/receive from the other; the fact that Jennifer was there with her beautiful five-week old; the fact that after only a few months, She Writes has grown enough to help me connect with women like the four I met yesterday in Ashland, Oregon, a town I’d never visited before. I am so grateful to Jennifer for organizing, and in her I instantly saw a leader and a doer — two precious qualities that help us all!

    The idea of She Writes is fairly simple: if women writers share their knowledge on a “hub” like She Writes, dedicated to women who write, at any/all stage of their careers, they can quickly and easily answer questions about all the issues that arise in the life of a woman writer, without having to take the onerous and lonely every-woman-for-herself approach that has been forced upon so many of us as the publishing landscape has rapidly, radically changed. Rather than thinking of She Writes as yet another item on one’s thing to do list, I hope our community will start to offer writers a way to make that things-to-do list shorter, smarter, more accurate, and more effective. We are creating webinars, contracting with the best-of-the-best publishing experts to serve our members, and shaping blog content that engages us all in the ongoing conversation that is writing.

    please check out She Writes at, write to me any time at, and by all means read and comment on Jennifer’s first SW blog!

  10. Thanks for writing about your meeting, Jennifer. I can totally see that so much has changed over the last few years. Sometimes I feel a bit like a dinosaur but I hope to take advantage of SheWrites because it might be more intuitively easier for me to use than some other social networking forums.

  11. Jennifer:
    Count me in as part of an Ashland group. I had a wonderful time with Kamy the night before; very fun to dance AND talk shop with! This is the beauty of support between women writers. Not only can we compare notes on how to get certain things done, but we also tend to acquire new friends who are on the same path – true sisters to hold hands with along the way. It helps us to be braver. At least this is true for me.

    Kamy is an inspiration and kindred spirit to us all. Her heart is right on target. SheWrites is a great idea.

    Thanks for the great post. Sorry to have missed you all on Sunday. I had a prior commitment.


  12. I tend to retreat into my writing shell when I have a lot of deadlines, but then after awhile I find the isolation is really detrimental to inspiration. I need to hear from other writers about the good and bad just to feel like this is a viable profession we’re in!

  13. I think I’ve hit a wall with people wanting to consolidate all of our needs in one place. No offense to Kamy who has a good idea that will serve some people well, but I have a small local list serve that provides support and sharing of experiences on line and meets in person about every 3rd month. I also belong to FLX on line, and have not even had time to check in to it for a bout a month because most of my time is spent on twitter and two blogging social love groups. Then there is the Travel Writers Social group that I have neglected as much as FLX, although both have great potential value. So no, thanks, I’m stuffed–I’ll pass on dessert.

  14. I love this post, and I love I wish that I could use a typewriter to write – but how does one even do that anymore? No backspace, so copy and paste? Am I so completely spoiled by computers that I can’t actually use a typewriter? Yikes.

    My favorite thing on SheWrites in Andrea’s essay group. It’s not a workshop or critiquing ring, but rather a sharing of resources. Very cool!

  15. I’m not familiar with SheWrites. One part of me thinks, sigh, one more social networking must. The other part knows that I’m really, really terrible about networking with writers in real life, so virtual it is.

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