A Small Town’s Biggest Thing is Gossip

Small town Neighbors help each other
Neighbors helping neighbors

Not too long ago, I answered a question asked on Quora.  For those of you not familiar with Quora, it is a social network “where you gain and share knowledge hoping to promote people to learn from each other.”  The subject of the question, “how do you deal with small town gossip?”, fell within my wheelhouse. My point of view about small town living shares with you a little insight I personally learned.

The idea of small town life appeals to me.  Norman Rockwell is my favorite artist. He and his art represent the epitome of small town life. Even he realized that gossip happens in small towns. His print of “Gossip” shows the humorous side of it but realistic. There is a nostalgic touch to everything I do, including watching old movies and preferring small town than city life. However, there is a downside to living in a small community. Namely everyone knows you, even if they may not know your name.

How gossip travels around town painting
Gossip by Norman Rockwell portrays the humorous epitome of small town life

Living in a town haunted by whispers of the past as well as its present for over eight years educated me on the subject of gossip. Today, Peyton Place is not as notorious a novel nowadays but back in the day, it certainly left its mark. Like myself, years earlier Grace Metalious resided in town with her husband.  Grace Metalious published one of mid-century America’s most controversial NY Times Best Sellers in 1956. As most authors, she wrote from her surroundings, background, and imagination.  The problem being her imagination was too close to reality.

She once stated “Even Tom Sawyer had a girlfriend, and to talk about adults without talking about their sex drives is like talking about a window without glass.”

The town of Peyton Place was a fictional collaboration of several New Hampshire towns: Gilmanton, the town where she lived with her husband (school principal). The town resented the insinuated notoriety causing gossip for years of its own. Laconia, and the neighboring towns of Alton and Belmont completed her backdrop. The village of Gilmanton Ironworks is where in December 1946, a daughter had murdered her sexually abusive father (upon who the book is partly based). The murder was investigated by the Sheriff of Belknap County, Homer Crockett, and members of the New Hampshire State Police.

Cover jacket for novel Peyton Place

Gossip, a rumor or report of an intimate nature, as defined by Merriam-Webster.    Mainly the side effects of gossip can cause catastrophic and lasting scars.  My children arrived in town as “flatlanders”, a term usually a label for Boston area commuters who invade the quiet hills and woods of New Hampshire towns.  So, they didn’t quite fit into the clique of native townie children because they entered the K thru 8 grade school as

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

newcomers. They often received the butt end of criticism. Unfortunately, it traveled with them the entire time we lived there, except for my oldest.  He actually assimilated into a well liked transplant to the town.  Most often though you need to apply the old adage of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…”.  If you don’t take things in stride, nothing but suffering becomes of it.

Haunted by Whispers of its past and present

Small towns aren’t all gossip but I’m not going to lie, you may stumble across some whispers around town.  Sometimes, a sense of humor is the best way to deal with so-called scandals sifting around town. In one case, the news of my pending separation from my husband offered a touch of irony during a rough patch of my marriage.  The news of it happening actually got back to me before it officially happened.  LOL! There are other things found in small towns that make living there worth the occasional whisper. News travels fast in small towns but keep in mind that it is not necessarily accurate!

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<3 Make the most of your ordinary everyday because you will find all your momentous ordinary moments in them <3

The Most Common Components of a Community

Beginning Bloggers’ Circle

 

What is a Community?  By definition the Merrimack-Webster Dictionary claims it is “a unified body of individuals: such as a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.” In other words, a community could be a neighborhood.  A neighborhood perhaps consists of social groups that share these common interests.  A group may take shape as a circle forming a tight unified effort to reach a goal.

So, our first component of a community is obviously a group of people.  When writing a blog, you start out by moving into a distinct neighborhood called a niche.  Your articles, posts, pictures and all the behind the scenes fonts, tags, and categories address your community.  How do you find this niche?  When looking for a house in a certain neighborhood, you would call a realtor.  But when looking for your niche, you call on yourself.  Introspective questions and examination is your best bet brainstorming possible ideas and narrowing them down by your highest interests and knowledge base.

Louisa May Alcott by Norman Rockwell writing

I just moved into a new home the weekend of last Christmas.  Although the past two years I previously lived in the same town but in an apartment, it wasn’t until I started to settle into the house I truly felt part of the town.   How do you become part of your neighborhood?  What is it in your community you share with others?  Do you enjoy the arts and cultural aspects of your community?  Is it recreation and entertainment that attracts you?  Or does it come down to the people who share the space with you? These are the kind of questions you should ask yourself.

Gram’s Kitchen

A community is comprised of common interests.  Are your interests the same as your niche?  That is the number one question!  As a blogger you hope and work hard searching for the interests you share with your audience.  My audience target are grandmothers, housewives, mothers, and maybe a percentage of baby boomers.  Thinking to myself, “what kind of interests do these type of populations share?”  It occurs to me family, cooking/food, struggles, antiques, grandchildren, relationships, and  reminiscing the past open up a great deal of topics.  I realize though that much of these topics are common and rather ordinary.  That is why I embrace it!  “Come in and enjoy the beauty of the ordinary because momentous moments are found in our ordinary everyday! <3

A Gram Blog is my site.  I picture it as a neighborhood with my “home” center stage.  It is comprised of spaces described to produce an illusion of different rooms.  “Kitchen” is where I keep recipes, cooking tips, and the world of food.  “The Family Room” holds movie, tv, and other reviews pertaining to entertainment.  “My Home Office” files posts such as this one related to blogging or my direct sales business.  I know one of the predominate things I recall about my grandmother is her home.  The rooms, the wallpaper, the furnishings, and everything about it right down to the aromas associated with it continue to comfort me.  That is what I wish to pass on to my audience.

As Matriarch of the Family a Gram usually heads over multiple households

How else do you build your blog traffic up?  The same way you befriend your neighbors. You visit people.  You join in social groups.  You invite your neighbors to come over.  Getting involved in community events and organizations opens up a different way to meet others.  My website is about 5 months old now.  Consistency is an important factor that I have not yet been able to master.  After missing a number of gatherings did you lose contact with that group?  Admittingly, my traffic is less than favorable.  You need to keep putting yourself out there.  I use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter as my welcome mats to the world.  Have you started your blog yet?  Which social media do you use most?  Did you have a hard time building up traffic?

While you want to watch your posts go viral, integrity plays an important part in blogging.  You must maintain an honest profile of yourself.  The strength of a blogger comes with their creditability.  Profess who you are!  What makes you able to write what you write about?  My background as a wife for 36 years, mother of four, grandmother of five, and a reasonably educated individual accounts for a bulk  of my writing.  A writer fictional or otherwise derives material from real life.  A blogger is a writer!  Be honest with yourself and your audience in your writing.  You are not writing to blow your ego up!  Remember offering things like comfort, ideas, support, and insight bring people together.  Who likes the big mouth neighbor always boasting about themselves?  Don’t you like leaving a wedding or a party with something in hand?  Think of different types of “party favors” for your audience.

Society splits us up into many styles of groups.  There are religious groups, gender groups, age groups, political groups, and the list goes on!  What makes a group into a community and a community into a circle?  Below you see my interpretation what characteristics are comprised in a community.

Most Common Components of a Community

  • Interests
  • Group of people
  • Integrity
  • Consistency
  • Exposure
  • belonging

The major distinction between a community and a circle is a common goal.  “A circle of friends”.  “A quilting circle”.  “A beginning bloggers’ circle”!  Each circle encompasses a common goal to reach through the interests of its community.  A circle of friends goal is to maintain a close relationship.  A quilting circle’s goal comes upon the completion of squares patterns pieced together by several individuals into one prized possession.  It is the goal of “A Beginning Bloggers’ Circle” to bare the burdens blogging brings us provides information of behind the scenes.  The purpose to share your strengths serves to teach others. Necessary in any community is caring!  My hope is to come together with other beginning bloggers who care to be part of a circle!