Unnamed Writers Group of Reno

This weekend I attended a meeting of the Unnamed Writers Group of Reno (www.unnamedwriters.org). I am very excited to find a good writers group that meets close to my house. The group was extremely friendly and welcoming and wasted no time introducing me around to the other members and slapping a name tag on my chest.

As most writers are a bit introverted, even if we sometimes overcompensate and over extrovert to hide it, I think that they use precisely the right method of getting writers into the group. I didn’t feel like an outsider once at the meeting.

I met some very interesting writers, poets, and authors.  It is always good to be among peers. I could tell that the longtime members were all close friends but there was no cliquish vibe, which is all too common with social groups.

The highlight of the meeting was their guest speaker Gideon For-mukwai. Gideon (blog www.1xtramile.com) gave a presentation on using the new social networking tools for promoting yourself as an author. The topic was the same as the topic at the Writer’s Digest Editor’s Intensive but Gideon’s take on it was a little different.

Gideon faced the same knee jerk reaction of several technophobes in the crowd to the use of Facebook and Twitter as a tool to market yourself and your work. What I found remarkable was his use of anecdotal similes to illustrate how times are changing and while we may not like it, the tools at our disposal are ultimately for the better and we need to use them.

His stories got the point across to the nay sayers without having to resort to a confrontational dialog. When people have their already have their backs up about the Internet and you throw in web 2.0, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and blogs into the mix the last thing you want to have to do is beat them down with the same old, get on board or get out of the way rhetoric.

I will sum up the story that Gideon used to illustrate his point. I warn you that I will not do it justice as this story, like all good anecdotes, is intensely personal to him. Also Gideon is one of those gifted public speakers who have the charisma and ability to capture an audience and take them with him on a journey; everyone was entranced by his tale.

Here is his story (I am going to keep it short and sweet, if you ever get the chance ask Gideon to tell you the full story):

He grew up in a small town in Africa. When he was a boy they went to the river and used gourds to retrieve drinking water. This worked fine and everybody was happy.

Then they started to get plastic 5 liter containers. The containers were not as fragile as the gourds and worked better. Still many people didn’t like them. They complained that the water tasted bad or didn’t like losing their traditional method. Over time, as the benefits were realized, most people started using the plastic containers.

Years later a pipeline was installed. Water was processed and piped to people’s houses or central areas where people could access it. Again many people complained. Why should they pay to have pipes brought to their house when they could use their plastic containers to get water for free?

The analogy was hard to miss. Nobody in the room thought that piped and processed water was a bad thing.

With that simple story I think Gideon was able to bridge over to people who would have normally been bucking in protest.

Obviously everyone is talking about social networking right now. It is a very powerful tool, almost as powerful as piped water. I just wish that everyone had Gideon’s skill for explaining it to people whose initial reaction is one of fear and confusion.

I am very glad I went to the meeting and plan on joining the group, especially if the guest speakers continue to be of this caliber.

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3 Comments

  1. Lystra,

    We have been using Gideon’s story all day, enjoying application to so many of our thoughts, from gourds to plastic containers to pipelines.

    It’s been fun
    thinking of how a man with your skills and talents
    would think. Happy to know you will have a group
    to throw ideas around with………… love
    pops and nan

  2. A terrific anecdote! I hope it helps change minds.

    • I think it did. No one knows better than you what a hard sell this can be. Gideon still had people shaking their heads and blurting out whatever defense mechanisms they had contrived to keep themselves from having to join the 21st century but I think his story helped.
      -Lystra


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