I shared a special moment with my oldest daughter over the Fourth of July weekend.

No. It wasn’t watching fireworks.

Although, that was nice.

And it wasn’t seeing hot air balloons.

That was cool, too.

It was, instead, during a family meal as we discussed the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner.

My husband was explaining that the reason we shoot fireworks was to remember the battle for freedom, “You know, like in the song. Oh say can you see?

At this point, I remembered what I ALWAYS remember when this song is sung:

That Ramona Quimby (beloved Beverly Cleary book character) thought that the next line of the song, By the dawn’s early light was actually by the dawnzer lee light.

When I mentioned this, my daughter had a lovely moment of respect for the fact that I actually remembered something I must have read when I was around her age.

Plus, it felt like a shared secret.

Dad and sister just didn’t “get it.”

Although I enjoyed reading aloud to my daughters before they could read themselves, I take great joy in the concept that when we’ve each read something individually, we’ve shared an experience.

Writers have the ability to create communities of readers that don’t need Facebook groups or Slack chats to know they belong to each other. All they really need to do is speak in code, using a term or phrase from the world that the writer built, realize they are members of that community, and bond over the excitement of the shared mental experience of reading that particular book or series.

I tend to gravitate toward friends who have overlapping reading tastes with my own. At times, it feels snobbish, but I can sometimes catch myself thinking, “If you haven’t read X, you probably don’t get me.” It’s a strange phenomenon.

Does your newsletter create this sense of mental community for your subscribers?

There’s a bit of chatter about community lately and the value of creating one (which I don’t discount), but I think some of the best communities are the ones built by sharing experiences that trigger almost sentimental memories.

Powerful writing, disruptive ideas, anything that sticks with others forms this sort of community. The experience of consuming the same content creates the bond.

A newsletter can BE community.

It’s a powerful thing, the dawnzer lee light.

Today’s issue offers ideas for preparing for Apple Mail’s upcoming privacy changes, a prompt to discuss what makes a newsletter “need to have,” and tips for enjoying the process of publishing.


Ashley Guttuso  

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Have a great week sending, y’all.

Ashley Guttuso