Thinking about the implications of Dunbar's theories of social networks and a real life example of writers supporting each other
Thanks for the mention, Mark. Anticipatory Plagiarism is one of the favorite concepts of the Oulipo movement, always mentioned with a wry smile. There are lots of examples of it The Penguin Book of Oulipo, which I reviewed, such as the Psalms (acrostics) and Gulliver's Travels (automated writing)😉
I'm new to Substack in terms of trying to forge relationships with other writers. I'm happy to hear of many collaborations forming. I hope that trend continues and i can find my place within it.
I know that writing my substack has deepened my relationships with many of the people I know IRL. They get to see a different side of me and get to know me better, which leads to a greater level of intimacy. That itself is of inestimable value, and I'm sure the same is true of writers working together.
Hey Mark, perhaps you planted this seed in my head along the way, but recently I'd been thinking about the network effect on Substack, how various smaller cohorts form, and how those smaller cohorts intersect.
As a natural extrovert and chameleon, I like to think of myself as a kind of "node" on that network, who intersects with various fiction and humor communities. This has made a HUGE impact on my writing career. I've found opportunities for collaboration and professional networking, and I've pushed myself (and have been pushed) to improve. Plus, I've had a lot of fun!
Something I've been planning for Notes: assemble your best Ocean's 11 or Mass Effect 2 style crew. It's silly on the surface, but it speaks to this deeper network effect, and how writers can support writers.
Finally, expect more madness from Michael, Dennard, and I this fall.
Amran said: "I've had a lot of fun!" This warms my heart. People who write can have the audacity to find the fun in their work. Heck, when I'm not wandering in the woods and writing about it, I practice dental nursing-- and yes, I find something fun about it every day. I could just be focused on the "numbers" of patients/money or the "strategy" of what makes a practice great, or upping the "efficiency" and speed of care. All these things matter. But that would be a slog and I'd get burnt to a crisp. I need FUN and JOY to make me excited to get out of bed. I find the fun in the people I serve--patients and teammates-- and in always trying to get better at my craft. I think writers can lean into writing about what they love and what makes them curious. You do that, Mark. And so does Jillian. That's contagious. That's what makes readers want to read.
Thanks for this! Had never heard of Author Stack and I can see already that it has tons of great info!
Great post, and definitely highlights something which is so underrated: GENUINE RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PEOPLE. In any sort of realm, it's the one thing which is gonna take you to the next level. Having people who you vibe with and you both admire each other's work. I've been lucky to come across some great people online and, although I'm still chipping away at the Substack numbers, I've met a couple of great people on here as well.
Thanks, Mark, for the mention and rec. One of the shining lights from the birdverse is meeting you, Alison, James, on there, and being introduced to Substack because of it. (NB Substack meet-up when?)
I was particularly struck by this sentence: “Over the centuries we have gotten better at creating artificial likenesses of ourselves that can be shared with other people thousands of miles away.” It sticks with me because I think we easily forget how dissimilar these online personas can be to the real deal; I wonder if there’s a direct correlation with online “success” and genuineness.
I’ve always pondered my relationship with the idea of being visible - I’m generally pretty uncomfortable in the meat space when people “notice” me, drawing attention to me. (Probably not unrelated to me having chosen a career where I do often sit in the shadows.) I certainly felt that discomfort when Twitter started to bleed into real life. Not about meeting people, but when people would find me at work to tell me they thought my Twitter was great, and I forgot my followers had grown beyond just a circle of friends. That was really the first time I felt it. I’m sure I will feel that again at some point with Substack, this disconnect with being seen and found, and not really knowing what to do with that. Because on some level, I want people to find my work. But not too many. It’s a paradox!
Great post Mark. It’s a great way to think of it.
I’ve been thinking recently about how I allocate recommendations.
I want to use them to help newer/smaller subtacks than me with a leg up. I also want to give my readers access to new substacks that I’ve discovered.
Then maybe there are recommendations of people you’ve “grown up with” on Substack who will just always be there. The class of 22 maybe!
So I think there are different categories of recommendation maybe.
I might get round to formalising these thoughts a bit more in a post soon.
Such a great post, Mark!
Your kind mention of my ongoing correspondence with Terry is hugely appreciated - thank you. I can thoroughly recommend such an exchange of letters to anyone and everyone - not only is the project extraordinarily fun but it also provides me with the opportunity to write about the things I encounter that wouldn't necessarily feature in one of my main newsletters, and which I relish the chance to write about. It's also a different kind of writing for me, because it's a direct response to an outside stimulus over which I have no control. My correspondent throws all manner of things at me, and responding to those 'on the fly' is really, really good practice!
Mark, I first came across you the very first time I stumbled, blinking, into Substack Office Hours soon after I'd joined the platform last June. Through your connections I have come across Terry Freedman, Jillian Hess, Alison, Bryn Robinson, Mary Tabor and very many others whose words I love to read, and whose newsletters are always such welcome arrivals in my Substack inbox.
Social networking is alive and well outside of the traditional social media platforms to which I am deeply allergic.
Thanks for this post! You've shown us the best way to interact on Substack in real time.
I love this--and appreciate your generosity towards other writers on substack--and how fantastic to show that supporting one another's work is what can bring unanticipated rewards. I really love that so many writers on substack--like you and Jillian--are leading with that kind of collaborative support. It makes a difference, and it's a delight to find synchronous kinships with other writers (especially ones who love commonplace books! 💜)
This post resonates - I really enjoyed it; and Noted is absolutely brilliant - one I look forward to. Thanks for being part of my network - and thanks also for the mention!
Oh - and this is serious - I appreciate your use of 'swell'. That word definitely needs to reenter conversational English. Along with 'keen'. So one could have - without irony or piss-taking - this actual conversation: Johann: 'I'm really keen to catch up, next time you're in town.' Samantha: 'That'd be swell.'
Your dedication to your craft and your willingness to explore the positive aspects of social media are inspiring. It's evident that you're not only a skilled writer but also a keen observer of the dynamics of online engagement. I look forward to reading more of your insights and experiences in the future.