Supernodes in Writing Culture

I woke this morning to snow in Denver. Not real snow as Coloradans reckon such things. The streets are clear, snow hasn’t buried any cars completely, and the news barely noticed.

For my finely tuned Memphian eyes, it is something else. Roofs, cars, and trees hold snow ready to shake down upon an unwary head. The ground is white. This is enough snow for the Mayor of Memphis to declare an emergency, to shut down schools and courts.

That gets to a difference in the cultures. This much snow in Denver? Better not be late to work. No one takes this seriously. In Memphis, though? Take a snow day. Work at home.

One of the great things about our mobile and virtual communities is that you can pick cultures you want to be part of. This is what I’ve done with the writing culture.

As Superstars Writing Seminars approaches, Steve and I have discussed that we don’t feel worthy to be in such impressive company. But that’s the nature of joining a new culture doing something we want to do but are not yet competent in.

The act of choosing that culture, choosing to be with the people I want to be part of, is a positive act that gets me closer to my goals. It inspires me at the same time as it teaches me. It makes me think of myself as a writer, as part of the community of writers. That’s what good communities do.

Social network theory says that in any human endeavor there are some nodes that have a lot of ties to other nodes (supernodes) and some nodes with a paucity of ties, weakly connected to the whole. My mother is a richly networked supernode in her social network. She has ties throughout the world that are simply amazing. By contrast, Steve and I are weakly tied to most networks. 

Within the writing community there are people who stand out as supernodes. Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch are rich supernodes bristling with connections. The writers who founded Superstars (Eric Flint, Rebecca Moesta, Kevin J. Anderson, James A. Owen, and Dave Farland) are also supernodes. Within our local writing community Bill Webb is a richly connected supernode in the network.

One aspect of rich supernodes is that they are generous with their knowledge and relatively easy to connect with. It is how they become supernodes in the first place. As I work on my own connectedness to people I can only hope to be as good at it as my mother in her network or Bill Webb in his. I doubt I will ever achieve a Dean Wesley Smith level of supernodeness. But I admire it.

I hope I do not sound too analytical about something that is a wonderfully emotional and deeply human trait. These people are fantastic. It’s great to know them. It’s also great to figure out what makes them so good. Connectedness is one of their superpowers.

Lois McMaster Bujold once said that all true wealth is biological. Supernodes are a form of biological wealth that we can all cultivate. May your life overflow with the richness of personal connections.

Be well, friends!


One Comment Add yours

  1. As a Southern Californian, the first time I saw snow, I was 25 and on guard duty in the boondocks on Fort Lewis, Washington. White against the dark trees…very pretty. In DC, on the other hand, the snow is usually gray and dirty and no one knows how to drive in it.

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