Do you remember your first year participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge on Two Writing Teachers Blog? Think back to that initial year, when your fingers itched to write, when you felt so inspired to challenge yourself and to grow your writing life, and yet. . .
It was a big commitment to sign on for 31 days of writing in a row. Would there be enough to write about??
It would take confidence and vulnerability to put stories out there for strangers to read. What if they were not perfect? What might others think or—ack—say?
Were your palms sweaty when you finally forced yourself to paste that link in the comments section? Did you worry that no one would read your post. . . that no one would comment on your post. . . or (yikes), that someone might be critical of your writing?
If your experience was anything like mine, on that very first day in March, you were surprised and overwhelmed by an enthusiastic group of visitors who read that first slice and left words of support and encouragement. They read your slice like writers who care deeply about the craft of writing, offering feedback that left you eager to slice again the next day.
Those visitors built you up, coming back day after day to cheer you on. You visited their blogs, getting to know them as writers, too, offering them the kind of positive, thoughtful feedback they were leaving for you.
This is how we begin to belong.
At the time, I had no idea that these amazing slicers were part of an organized Welcome Wagon. I just appreciated all that they did to make me feel like a member of the community. I kept writing because of those generous slicers; I had an audience, and I quickly began to care about the kind individuals who made up that audience.
Now is the time to organize an experienced audience for the 14th annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge. If you have participated in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge at least once before, you are eligible—hooray! And if you have ever felt gratitude for the Welcome Wagon volunteers who brightened your first Slice of Life experience, we hope you will consider joining us.
It is an extra layer of work during an already busy month. . . AND, it is an opportunity to make a real difference in the writing life of someone new to our #TWTblog community. Think about the teacher of writers you have become since prioritizing your own writing life, the impact you have had on countless students that is a direct result of embracing your identity as teacher-as-writer. By supporting a new slicer, your generosity has wide-ranging impact.
What Does a Welcome Wagon Volunteer Do?
Each Welcome Wagon volunteer will be gifted a group of brand new slicers. The number will vary, based on the total number of volunteers and new slicers, but it is typically between five and seven.
Each day of the challenge, the volunteer will visit the sites of their new slicers, leaving positive comments. This serves both to encourage the writer and to model the kind of feedback the new slicer might leave for others. Over the course of the month, seasoned and new slicers will get to know each other, connecting and sharing.
Signing up is a commitment to support your cadre of slicers across the entire month. If you’ve sliced before, then you know how energy can ebb and flow; consistency with feedback is key for new slicers.
If you decide you’d like to join our Welcome Wagon—and we hope you will—please let us know here. February 22 is the deadline to sign up, so that we’ll have time to create and communicate groups of names/web sites. You will receive an email from Kathleen Sokolowski and/or Amy Ellerman in advance of March 1 with all the details you’ll need. If you have any questions, please ask in the linked Google form or in the comments section of this post.
We would love to hear from anyone who had a positive experience as a first-time slicer because of our Welcome Wagon volunteers. Or perhaps you’ve served as a Welcome Wagon volunteer in the past, and you would recommend it. Please share in the comments why it’s worth the time and effort to give back in this way.
Two Writing Teachers Blog is an incredible community, and our Welcome Wagon volunteers are proof of that. Thank you!