Oh, how relieved I am to read that I am the exception that proves the rule!

Community gets overused and misused a lot. Both online and offline, I should add. And I was and still am a bit hesitant about using it. Even the friendliest group can seem like a frosty clique from the outside. In a way, I use it here in a self-deprecating way: I am no expert on literature, on the classics, on Mantel. An amateur enthusiast at best. So instead of an authoritative interpretation or a scholarly reading, I try to create a space (a community?) where we can engage with the books together.

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Dec 13, 2023·edited Dec 13, 2023Liked by Jill

Love the image of you scaling a wall and the unexpected availability of the hessian sack. Small town life at its best. 🙌🏻

Also, I'm absolutely one of those people that talks about creating a community on Substack and totally get where you're coming from with these thoughts. 🙋🏼‍♀️😅 I hope that my idea of a community here comes across like I'm intending it to - more of an everyone-is-welcome-at-my-house-especially-the-kids-in-the-corner vibe rather than a pay-me-your-money-or-you'll-fail vibe which I'm definitely not a fan of either. Those people are scary and I'm anxious enough already! I do love an in-person event but living on a teeny island (and stuck inside a lot of the time) having online spaces to hang out keep some sane and I'm forever grateful for the chance to speak to more like-minded people. Also, since I've never been part of an in-crowd either, I figured if I started the party I'd definitely be invited even if no one else showed up. 💅🏻😆

Always enjoy how clear and forthright your voice is whatever the topic and, whether it's called a community or not, I'm glad to be in this online space with you and your words. 💗

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Hi Jill, glad to have found your stack. I was hooked by your thoughts on the “community” sales pitch - which have been nagging me these last couple days, more on that next - but I subscribed just because you’re a very interesting writer, and I look forward to hearing more about whatever-you-decide-to-write-about :) I personally get excited about nature, what I think of as “moments of connection”, so that’s what I photo-and-write about.

Anyway, this struck a chord with me because I thought maybe I was a bit cynical last week when I kept seeing references to this new stack popping up in my notes. All these comments “So excited for this community!” “Love-love-love this space you’re creating!” But when I visited this stack that all these writers/photographers/artists in my teeny-new-Substack-circle were excited about, I all I could see was this certain category of influencer that always irritates me on socials: the curated-happy-mommy-influencer. This particular stack happened to be a second newsletter started by someone with a large base on her original newsletter; and I hadn’t subscribed to her original newsletter because it was one of a group of similar cross-posting accounts that all seemed to promote each other and share the same aesthetic: glowy, filter-y, floor-to-ceiling gauze curtains, spontaneous wildflower field outings, off-the-shoulder-robes, tasteful pregnancy nudes, blissful, ruffled toddlers, and always accompanied by the encouragement: “life is so perfect if you can just simply exist in the present, look at these effortless selfies that I just snapped during my normal-day-to-day, trust me, you totally deserve this, too!” I know it’s popular, but I am wired differently, and actually have a bit of a horror reaction to that whole scene, then wonder if it’s weird that I’m so cynical, then decide (again) that I’ll just have to be okay with that.

Anyway, long rant to say thanks for sharing honestly about the community angle - I know there will always be a large crowd that it’s all a bit popular with, but it’s nice to know there’s room for some cynics in the world, too. And I also find Lauren Hough’s work endlessly spot-on, how does she do it? She is just 100% entirely who she is 🤣

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We are definitely stealing Mills. 🤣❤️

Agree big time with all of this. That distinction is what I was trying to pull out with the “friends are people whose work you like” quote. There’s genuine connection and there’s exploitation. And man it riles me to see exploiters cloaking what they offer (nothing) as “community” - because THAT DEVALUES THE CONCEPT OF COMMUNITY. It is not community if you have to pay for it; if it isn’t given freely and generously.

Anyway yes please to the contributor list, drop me a line and we can figure it out. The deadline is 27 December so there’s still some time.

Happy hols to you and yours, my friend. 🥂 We’ll raise a glass in the pub yet, one day.

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I am very interested in the app that Joel is developing, even more interested in the idea of setting once abd sharing it wherever simultaneously. These ",islands" with their rules and algorithms and limitations exhaust me.

Still I write and I've been writing here for three years more happily that bon other platforms. I've loved discovering writers I look forward to reading. I think your take on in community is spot on. At their best, the comment section in my newsletter and the ones I read offer the ideas, support, encouragement, stories and/or a laugh that banding together to save a pub produces. I wish you luck with your efforts on the pub. Thank fur this thoughtful piece.

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I feel the same way about the pay-me-to-show-you posts.

But I've found a few people, may be a half dozen tops, who write about similar stuff to me and routinely read and comment on each other's posts. Each one is generous to a fault. I haven't found a better word than community to describe them. It feels like a lot of "real life" communities I'm part of.

Rooting for the pub! 🍻

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Already a believer, and signed up. But sign me up again!

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I don’t have words to do justice to this awesome post, Jill. So here’s an emoji chain for you:


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YESSSS! 🙌 I totally feel you on the false community aspect. It feels like there’s been a lot of toxic positivity whirling in Notes. That being said, I have also connected with interesting writers/ artists on this platform, and have even collaborated with some (which was more fun than some real life collabs I’ve done!). I’ve met a few of them over Zoom (not a paid thing/ our own volition) and it was lovely to put a face and personality to a Substack. I’m lacking a creative community, with whom I can bounce ideas and frustrations with etc, but I’m slowly meeting a couple peeps here to form that with (again, for free).

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Loudly - probably quietly because we prefer the non-shouty Substack - celebrating Simon Haisell as the epitome of the sort of encouraging 'community' space we are seeking here. Really love what Tanya Shadrick is doing to build a space for writers - I won't call it a 'community' but it kind of is ... a gentle spaces that encourages folk to share their writing (really good writing) and which offers the multiplying effect of togetherness. Nothing offered, sold or pushed.

But, yes, railing against 'faux' communities with price tags (see also 'Substack goals' for growth ... I am considering setting up a group (not a community) of folk who will set no goals for 2024 ... I shall call it 'Laissez Faire'.

Lovely writing, Jill. Bon chance with the pub.

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Well you got yourself another subscriber. My gal Riley lives in London and now I’m fairly certain she'll be heading over to take a gander at your pub and those lovely stocks

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Not much for the "community" of Notes and so forth - I don't think it's a bad thing to float your latest post or friends' posts that you loved - but the community is right here in the comments. I quickly rush past without making eye contact at the Notes and Posts about how they grew their Substack from zero to $40K in a year (in the most recent example) - good for them, I guess? I would have to twist myself into such a pretzel of not-me to even imagine such an enterprise.

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Dec 14, 2023·edited Dec 14, 2023Liked by Jill

Hmm, I'm not quite sure why Wordsmoke hasn't secured the fortune for the pub to be enshrined as a world heritage site for the rest of human existence, but there's still time, right? (lemme know if you want me to share a list of those contributors with you, I don't think i have yet).

Community is an expansive concept and an overused word IMO. I don't know if I am trying to build community, but I am trying to build solidarity and find community to some extent. I am definitely here to connect with people. Those connections and collaborations with people who's work I admire is a huge part of what makes Substack interesting to me. They help me think deeply about my own work and pay closer attention to the work of others, which is invariably rewarding in my experience.

Writing and most types of art-making are solitary endeavors. Being able to share work and actually get a tiny micro amount of encouragement from others doing the same thing is a big deal and I think why writers are so encouraged to find others here.

Music is more of an exception to the rule, but only in typical ways of musical collaboration. Personally, I am here to make art and find community because late band practice and gigs are not something I can (or want to) do anymore. I also want personal control over my work and I want to write.

I think there are two important sides to this...those looking to exploit artists and artists looking to lift each other up. I agree that there is a danger of Substack going full artist exploitation industrial complex and it might go that direction if continuing to wall itself off or if it gets sold. Sure the glad-handing gets to be a bit much but the collectivism is the same thing as with your pub. The motives are to build something that doesn't have to do with profit, and the pub is the perfect case study for this type of thing.


(also, if substack goes to shit, can Joel build a new one and can we steal Mills?)

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This was fantastic. Not letting the word 'community' slip away is certainly something that I can support: "It means the people who turn up within five minutes on a stormy evening to help climb a wall and close a window." Thank you also for your words about my writing—I really appreciate it.

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Jill, I might have missed this, but were you stepping on Steve the whole time you were knocking on that window? 400 words on the pain of removing shoes to climb a wet stonewall, and 20 for Steve’s poor knee🤣

I always tell mom she’s my only reader. She was my first reader when I wrote gibberish at 3, and she has always been my consistent reader even as Im hitting 30. I’ve changed writing platforms, and even styles of writing. I used to send it to friends and close relatives, and they disappeared, or worse, pretended to read or like it. But mom’s always been my silent cheerleader.

I’m always happy to see 0 likes (mom’s not on substack, never will be. If you are on a different island in the presence of software tech, mom’s in a different universe) . When one of my articles gets a like, there’s a 95% probability it’s you, and a 5% that I dreamt it 😊 This small community of 2 people who come for my nonsense is enough for me. I can write without filters, without looking over my shoulder.

I write for myself because it’s easy. I do feel a little sorry for you though, you write so well to attract a crowd that you noticed when you got a grand total of 1 like🤣. On that note, time to change that. I was way too busy with work so missed a bunch. Everything crashes and burns right before the holidays, don’t they 😔

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Yes. Yes. Yes. I’ve tried to get into/feel part of this ‘community’ people are bragging about on notes but I keep feeling like an outsider knocking the incrowds’ doors. So I gave up and decided to focus on my writing and my real community in my real life. What a relief.. I’m totally with you on this one.

Also, it’s amazing what you’re doing with the pub. We need more caring and determined people like you in the world! And I’m curious to hear more about Joel’s app as he develops it further. Keep going! ❤️

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