Two completely different words, with completely different meanings, and yet some people get them totally mixed up! As you know, I am all about collaboration, “paying it forward”, and being a genuine part of a community. If an author wants to sell their books they need to build a launch team and if they want people to join them then they need to be a part of a community (a few of actually). And if you want to be a part of a community then you need to contribute. It is as simple as that.
But I need to make it abundantly clear so that you know where I stand. Joining a community that you aren’t prepared to genuinely participate in, congruently contribute to, and stay in for the long haul, is not collaboration! If your sole purpose is to use members for your gain, then you are simply infiltrating, and that is worse than doing nothing at all.
Many years ago I had the privilege of mentoring a young woman who’s husband struggled with addiction. I won’t go into any more detail than that, but as we sat in a coffee shop in the middle of a New York City winter, a couple of weeks before Christmas, she poured her heart to me. You see, the movie “Thanks for Sharing” had recently hit the big screen, and the main actor had done a brilliant job in one sense, of showing what sexual addiction was actually about (it is nothing like it is commonly portrayed I can assure you!). Her problem wasn’t just that this poor woman was dealing with a husband just like the character in the movie, she was now dealing with worse.
It turns out that the accuracy of the movie wasn’t a coincidence. The actor had joined her husband’s addiction group and as there are loads of other actors and famous people in many addiction groups, especially in places like LA and New York, no one thought anything of it, and the confidences were respected at every level. But it reality, the actor wasn’t a sex addict at all, he just wanted to experience being in an addiction group so that he could do his movie realistically! All the secrets he told were lies, all the hours over weeks and months, that he poured into those relationships were all fake. He betrayed the other members of the group at such a deep level that many of them, like this woman’s husband, stopped going.
Some of these men had only been going in the first place because it was part of their treatment and because they were assured of secrecy. No one broke the secrecy, no one did anything “wrong”, but this small group of broken, struggling men, were betrayed at one of the deepest levels. Over a period of months, the actor learned, got what he wanted, and then he left. He heard the others bare their souls, but he only pretended to bare his.
I know that that is an extreme example, but the point that I want to make is that joining a community needs to be real if you ever want them to support your stage, your writing, your blog. So don’t be an asshole like Mark Ruffalo and screw people over just so that you can make your million!
Where Jennifer hangs out:
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.” ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman